Friday, July 26, 2013

A Harry Potter wrap up... For now...

So when I went to film my critique for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, my lighting equipment (AKA the old as dirt lamp I keep on my nightstand) short circuited. So for now I cannot make videos of me whining about Harry Potter movies.

I do want to say a few things about the franchise before I move on for a while though. First off, some people have asked me if I just plain hate Harry Potter, and honestly the answer is no. I
started reading Harry Potter when I was 14 so I kind of grew up with it. I simply adored the books, the characters, and the adventures Harry and his friends had. The thing is that now I'm 27 years old, the Harry Potter craze is over, and I now study movies professionally. My goal was to go back and analyze what worked and what didn't in the series, and as much as I loved the series there were some things that just didn't work. I feel like the films especially weren't well thought out and that the translation between book and film didn't work well until the fifth film.

Now I'm not the kind of guy who says that the book is always better. I think the Lord of the Rings films are BETTER than the book. I found the books boring, and that may just be me who was used to modern fantasy as opposed to the book that started it all, but I enjoy the original novels of Frankenstein and Dracula, so it may not be that. I also thought that the Hunger Games film was just as good as the book, same with World War Z (Although for Z the book is way different, I still had a good time at the movie).

The part I enjoy most in the Harry Potter story, both in the books and one of the few things the films got consistently right, was the opposition between Harry and Voldemort. My favorite part about both of them is how firmly they are on their own sides. So many writers try to make their hero flawed by having his morals be in question or ambiguous, while trying to make their villains justified to be evil. Here we don't get much if any of that. We follow Harry for seven years of his adolescent life, almost entirely from his point of view, and we know that while he wanted to, not once did he shirk the responsibility of being the hero, even down to sacrificing himself in the end. In storytelling this is known as a Christ analogy, where a character mimics the Savior, and is usually looked down upon. The problem with the Christ analogy is that its usually forced quickly that this person will save us all (Not to be blasphemous, but halfway through Man of Steel I thought the analogy was so forced that Zod was going to nail Superman to a cross). Harry it's subtle and gradual that he's going to be the one to do it. Everyone in his world even does everything they can so that Harry doesn't have to bear the burden alone, and do everything possible to stop Voldemort beforehand, so when it comes down to Harry vs. Voldemort outside of Hogwarts it feels like the natural conclusion of events.

Of course if Harry is Christ Voldemort is Satan. We even get his not so subtle serpent analogy throughout the piece. The story gives Voldemort some background and a bit of reasoning behind his actions, but the reasoning isn't justification, and at the end the only reason Voldemort does anything is because he sees the obtaining of power as the ultimate goal and anything that opposes him is just an obstacle to overcome. He's evil because he doesn't care about what's right and wrong anymore, just what he wants and how to get it.

Ironically one of the biggest critiques of Harry Potter is one of my favorite things: the fact that at the end of the day its the power of love that's stronger than Voldemort's magic. I love that love is a part of magic in their universe, that Lily Potter's love created a charm to destroy Voldemort, and that Harry's sacrifice creates a charm to protect his friends. I'll admit this is one step away from the Care Bears showing up and shooting rainbows out of their stomachs, but I still like it. I like the fact that strip away all the characters, the plot holes, the magnificent world, and the magic and what you're left with is a slug-fest between good and evil and good wins.

We live in a world where that's going on now, where good and evil are having it out, and thanks to the teachings of the prophets, we know who's going to win. In a world though where it constantly looks like evil's going to rule, it's really nice to see something to remind us that at the end of the day it's all going to work out.


1 comment:

  1. Good stuff Joe. I agree with you on love being an actual part of magic in Harry's world. Love is so important and it makes sense to me that it would have such an effect in Harry's life.