Tuesday, July 21, 2009

still wild about harry

We went to watch Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on opening day with our purchased-4-weeks-prior tickets in hand and spirits as high as the Astronomy Tower. We've been rereading the sixth book though unfortunately did not finish before last Wednesday. Our gang plus my best friend Jen and her three boys still giddily headed to the cinema [feeling British, please play along] for our multiple hour entertainment.

I will say upfront that overall, it is a fantastic movie - satisfying effects, entirely engaging acting, and brilliant writing. However, my kids & I ultimately found the story lacking the depth & drama of the book, and we fear it is an inadequate set up for the next, final installment.

Of course we always know the books are better than the movies; when reading we get to meet the characters in our minds and become their friends (or enemies), we get to see and hear and feel with such clarity it is sometimes difficult to move away to the next sentence or chapter, or book. But it's okay, because we can stop and linger and go back. Movies don't really allow us to do those things, and so even when they are well-crafted & moving (as were the first five in the Harry Potter series), we readers still cling to the original version in our hearts.

In The Half-Blood Prince, we learn the secret behind Voldemort's immortality, a shocking yet tragic revelation that, in the book, makes us slightly though uncomfortably sympathetic to him. We also see the other villains, Draco & Snape, more as individuals with feelings and dreams and fears; they become people we might know, for whom we might wish life had treated differently - in the book, that is. The movie focused so hard on showing how grown-up Harry and company are becoming romantically that it missed what made reading the last two novels aloud to my kids so difficult yet significant - witnessing a person's loss of intellectual & emotional innocence is heartbreaking & telling. Though young Tom Felton did a fine job, the movie Malfoy was given too little time to let us feel for him. And the unbearably magnificent Alan Rickman was allowed criminally inadequate space to embody Snape and his secrets.

This telling seemed unnecessarily abbreviated in parts (and unnecessarily embellished in others) and lightened up for the masses. We went away glad that we hadn't finished rereading, because now we can revisit our Harry and The Half-Blood Prince the way we remember them, and love them.


The Superfluous Blogger said...

i haven't seen hp after azkaban. i am woefully behind. bUT! i am current on the books! i am mildly annoyed at it being the end. you know those three-wish things? well one of mine is that there would *always* be a harry potter book to read.

oh, and world peace.

third wish ? a puppy.

Fantastic Forrest said...

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Just a few thoughts to add:

1. LOVED the art direction. The Weasley's home scene when Harry first arrives is splendid, don't you think? You note the different color palette immediately - from icy bluish tones in the opening segments, it shifts to the warmth and golden light of his friends' surroundings.

2. Felton conveyed a LOT even though he had a pitifully small amount of screen time. He's grown into a fine young actor.

3. There was one poorly edited transition; action changed to the second pensieve scene way too abruptly. The rest of the film was splendid.

4. Is it just me, or do you think they've sexed up Snape a bit? The hair seems a little fluffier...I dunno, there's something more appealing about his look in this film. Not that I wasn't panting for him already. And you are correct in labeling his time onscreen as "criminally inadequate." The series really should be entitled "The Tragedie of Severus Snape" - it is thus in my mind.

camikaos said...

The final installment is actually going to be in two parts.

I hate it when I use the word actually... I sound super snobby, but I'm going to leave it anyway.

My point is that with 2 full length movies I have an inkling of hope that it will do the last book justice.

That being said the books will always far outshine the movies and honestly I wouldn't have it any other way.

LarryG said...

i can never figure out why they don't contact me or some other sensible adult (*badmom, et al) for final edit proofing of these things, just think how far superior the product would be! oh well, hollywood trudges on, while trendsetters like you badmom, blaze the trails!

Great review!

Danielle said...

I have to agree with you on the review of the movie. I loved the books, and they were so easy to "see" in my mind as I was reading them. I always thought they did a good job translating the books into movies. But I agree with the depth lacking in this movie. I will however be adding it to the BluRay collection of all the other Potter movies...

apathy lounge said...

When young kids prefer the depth of a book to the ease of a movie adaptation, you know you've succeeded in raising REAL READERS. Congratulations!

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I know not of this Harry, but that's still one of my favorite pictures of my favorite kids.

Janet said...

This was my favorite book, since it really was all about Snape, and as such, this is my least favorite movie of the 6th...I was sorely, deeply disappointed in the chase scene between Harry & Snape towards the end. Sigh...

Stu said...

I love that picture.


Alison said...

I always, always like the book (any book, not just Harry Potter) better than the movie. But I do like to compare--and how great it will be to get to compare with my kids!


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