22 July 2011

Farewell, Harry.

I took Elder and Younger to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2, today.  It was good, with reservations.

One of the things that has always irked me about the movies is how the books are chopped up and altered, with many passages missing, and something not in the books inserted instead.  Many important dialogues are cut from the movies, but this is to be expected.  Books as a medium favour words, are made of words, whereas movies favour action. Dumbledore explaining to Harry the meaning of what has happened may make for good reading, but boring cinema.  Or so the directors and producers seem to think.   But this problem has plagued the movies as whole, so nothing special here.  I have said before:  I believe the books would have been better served as a television series, than a movie series.

There were many good scenes, and on the whole it flowed better than many of the other movies.  It had many good scenes.  (Spoiler alert)  The action sequences are well done.  Snape's memory sequence was touchingly rendered, finally giving Rickman a little something to sink his teeth into. The scene could not convey all the information given in the book, but it did a fine job of getting the most important bits across.  On the other hand, Harry's dialogue with Dumbledore was so thoroughly butchered it served no purpose whatsoever.  Harry's final fight with Voldemort is more complicated than in the book, with none of the explanations.  I saw the movie in 3D, and I don't believe it added anything to the movie, beyond a "gee whiz, look what we can do" factor.  The final scene, where the actor's are grown up with children of their own, was, sadly, unconvincing.  They appeared to be playing dress up more than anything.

This, then, is the farewell to Harry Potter and his world, for now.  I am a fan of the books, though not a raving one.  I owe the books a debt of gratitude.  I was introduced to the books around the time I realized I had to abandon my PhD studies.  Studying English at my university in many ways killed my old joy of reading.  I had been stuck reading books about books, or books about books about books, or books proposing a hypothetical approach for the study of other books, and so on.  Dead dull, dry. Nihilist, or written to justify a political perspective and maintain a narrative.  Puff, who worked at a daycare at the time, came home with a book the daycare had asked her to read to see if it was offensive, as some places were banning it.  She asked me to read the book in her stead.  "It has come to this," I thought.  "I, whose work was once hailed as interesting and important, I, who am referred to on my record as an intellectual maverick, am now reduced to vetting children's books for daycare centres."  I reluctantly opened the book, the first of the Harry Potter novels, expecting to reach a new low.

Instead, I found myself doing something I hadn't done for a very long time:  I was enjoying myself, reading.  I had almost forgotten the feeling.  I went out and bought the second book, and then the third.  I was among those awaiting the other books as they came out, and though I thought the books never quite had the same magic as the first three, I still enjoyed them.  I will always fondly remember this series, for it reminded me that I love reading. 

The final movie, for its flaws, does connect the dots, cross the t's and dot the i's.  Harry, Ron and Hermione have lived their great adventure, and go off into their happily ever after.  I bid them adieu and wish them well as I would an old friend.

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