:: Running from the Thought Police ::

Reality-Based Thoughts, Ruminations, and Unsolicited Opinions of a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign student alumnus and employee.
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:: Saturday, November 19, 2005 ::

Harry Potter Thoughts

Warning: This may contain spoilers. I dunno. I fully expect that if you're a literate human being on this planet that you have read - or had read to you - the first four Harry Potter books, and if you have not then you can suffer my spoilers at your own peril.

I went to see the new Harry Potter movie tonight, and I have to say that I liked Azkaban better. While I know that there are hordes of people who hate Azkaban since it takes too much liberty with the text or some nonsense, I like it because the excision of side detail is the least, the plot isn't terribly hampered by time (pun intended), and the movie managed to keep/set up details involved with foreshadowing for later books.

Goblet of Fire, the book, was the reversal of the trend of the Harry Potter books becoming shorter - instead, this one was far longer than its predecessor. While a lot of the book was spent on exposition that's not a major problem with a movie (a page of description is established with a single shot), there's still tons of plot and character detail involved. Hhouse elves, the Dursleys (and starting off there is a very important detail in the books), the beginning-of-term feast, Rita Skeeter the Animagus, and most of Ron and Hermione's lines were sacrificed in lieu of fitting the main plot into two-and-a-half hours, and even the plot itself was chopped up to the point that if one hadn't read the book, one didn't know what was going on. The movie was worth seeing, I'll admit that, but it wasn't a good movie.

I am still of the opinion that the movies should not have been made until after all the books were written. Even so, in fifteen to twenty years I fully expect to see the whole series redone, but actually done well. By this I mean that the movies will be shot with an eye to foreshadowing and a willingness to swap out the child actors with every movie. It doesn't take much to set up an actor as a given character from a children's story - if it's got red hair than it's a Weasley, for example. (Gred and Forge were great in this, actually, even if their roles were reduced as well.) Also, what the next set of movies will do (and hopefully this set, now that this movie's been done) is to split the movies from Goblet of Fire on into two parts, shown a couple months apart. That way there'll be time to get into the necessary details of the later books without being completely rushed.

I think one of the reasons why Goblet of Fire was kept as short as it was is that, even though it intentionally carries a PG-13 rating, it was still shot, set up, and marketed as a kids movie. (It's not like any 8-10 yr old Harry Potter fan didn't already know that people died, gruesomely, so it's not like I disapprove of that age group seeing the movie, mind.) The thing is, starting with Goblet of Fire, the books are definitely at a Young Adult level. While the writing doesn't become terribly more complicated, the intricacies of the plot and the lengths of the books do increase. Instead of being able to read one of the earlier books in three hours, it takes a couple days to blow through the later novels. The added complexity and detail should be reflected in how the movies are concieved of and shot, hence my position that the movies should be split in two to do better justice to the books on the screen.

Lastly, and this goes for any children's or young adult book that gets made into a movie and is marketed to kids, if you're going to go see the movie you can read the book first. If you're too young to read through the whole thing (which I can understand if you're 7 and going to see Goblet of Fire), have your parents read the book to you. That way, there'll be a lot fewer children sitting in back of me asking everyone around them what's going on. At least they got shushed enough that they were silent from the maze to the end.

If you're still reading at this point, congratulations! I don't have a massive conclusion to this rant, so leave a comment.

:: The Squire 12:15 AM :: email this post :: ::


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