So I went to see the latest movie today. It’s one of the perks of being in Montreal, being able to up and go to see a movie without having to fight crowds at a mall (read teeny-boppers for “crowds”) — we aren’t exactly overrun with different cineplexes and the ones that do exist are, probably rightly, hangouts for teens out of school.
I left my brother and sister-in-law and their new baby (O light of my life, apple of my eye) and trundled off downtown to the cineplex (which should be Cineplex). Had I been 10 minutes earlier and a little smarter I could’ve seen the movie in iMax, which would have made things really exciting, but silly me, I didn’t know better. That experience will have to wait for Miami or some other metropole.
Now, I keep this very quiet, but I am a Harry Potter fan. Not one of the fans who would dress up or anything, or who would have gone to see Equus just to see Dan Radcliffe in the all-and-all, but a fan nevertheless. It was inevitable, I suppose; I was weaned on British adventure stories, on Enid Blyton and C. S. Lewis and Arthur Ransome and (later) Tolkein and Alan Garner, and I was also a voracious inhaler of school stories — the Swiss Chalet stories and the Mallory Towers stories and the Clare stories. So the combination of magic and boarding school seemed to me to be a sure thing in the beginning.
I read the first two Potter stories with some interest. I liked them, yes, but they didn’t compete, in my mind, with any of the above — well, perhaps with Blyton, but not with Ransome and Lewis and Tolkein. There was a lightness, a superficiality, about the first two that I resisted. They were charming, but I wouldn’t read them again; and I haven’t. In the third book, Rowling’s darkness began to show itself and the episodic nature of the first two changed into the long-term storytelling that now marks the series; I liked Sirius Black, liked Scabbers/Pettigrew, liked Lupin; and the danger of having a werewolf teaching at a boarding school, and the execution of the Hippogriff were a far cry from the insipidity of Quirrell and the narcissism of Gilderoy Lockhart. (And, as far as I’m concerned, Cuaron directed the best movie of the series).
I really, really loved the fourth book. I defended my doctorate thesis on the same day I bought it, and showed it off to my supervisor, who probably thought I had lost my sanity (and if I had, who cared? I’d got my doctorate). But in it, Rowling came into her own. The length and complexity of the book and the characters and the world made the adaptation of it into the film difficult, but it meant also that I could enjoy the story two different ways — by reading it and by watching it. (I have reread Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, and will do so again; but it’s likely to be a long time — till I’m reading it with one nephew or another, probably — before I read the first two again. Didn’t help that I was trapped into buying the Sorcerer’s Stone — Scholastic will never live down that bit of idiocy).
So now. The movie. I enjoyed it. Found the adaptation fairly good, though I questioned some of the choices. For one, there was no quidditch in it at all, which I didn’t miss, but which I think for Harry was a mistake; the fact that he is a Seeker is fundamental to his personality, IMO. Still. It probably saved a bundle in special effects.
For two, and more worrying for me, were the editing out of St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and the bringing of Arthur Weasley into Number 12 Grimmauld Place, and I’ll tell you why. It’s my opinion that Neville and his parents are crucial to the ending of the story. The removal of the hospital also coincided with the removal of the Longbottoms, except in a small exchange between Neville and Harry (which worked in terms of a stand-alone script, but which I suspect will have problems later). And the bit about the prophecy at the end, when Harry learns the full prophecy, and the context in which it was made, and how it might not actually refer to him at all, I believe to be significant for the ending of the series.
But that will have to wait. This post has woffled on far too long.
I liked the movie. If I were starring it, I’d probably give it 3 and a half stars, out of five. Worth the $10.95 Canadian I spent on it? For me, for sure. For someone else? Well, I’d send them to see the Cuaron film instead.