Want to know what my pet peeve is? When a bunch of icons featuring actors walking down a red carpet are (mis)represented as “Goblet of Fire” icons. Who gives a fig about the actors? OK, I guess we wouldn’t have the movies without the actors and their fine acting, but I’ve never been a celebrity ogler.
For me, it’s all about the story, and in the case of TV/film, the realizing of that story in picture and sound. So enough of my whining about how I can’t find a *single* icon of Harry either doing one of the tri-wizarding tasks or facing down Voldemort because all the icons are either of the movie premiere, publicity shots of the pretty actors, or the shippy shippy Yule Ball. On to the realization bits.
Anyone who has read the books and commented on the movie has already noted that the beginning of the movie feels utterly rushed. Blink, and the Quidditch World Cup is over. But, as it turns out, there’s a good reason for this–devoting the time that the Tri-Wizarding Tournament and the final showdown with Voldemort deserves. The fans may have their priorities all out of balance, but the producer of the film didn’t, although I still wish they’d have stuck to early rumors that the movie was going to be four hours long. I would have liked to have seen a moment or two of the actual *action* of the Quidditch World Cup and a brief appearance by the love-to-hate-them Dursleys. Not to mention the political sub-plots, especially Hermione’s S.P.E.W. crusade. Nevertheless, the Tri-wizarding action was exciting (the aerial battle with the dragon did go on a *bit* longer than it had to) and the final show-down with Voldemort was equal to its importance in the story. The acting of faux Mad-eyed Moody was inspired.
The rising importance of Wizard politics in the fourth book was underplayed here, which is one of the producer’s choices I had more of a problem with. The movie was not shy about playing up the dark tone, and in fact the Tri-wizard Tournament had a tone much darker than I got out of the book. But in a good way. Still, one of the important aspects of Wizard culture (besides its complete and utter disregard for elf!Rights!!OMG!!1!) is its simultaneous strong resistance to the possibility of the return of Voldemort (which becomes the centerpiece of Order of the Phoenix) combined with the blatant actions of the Death-eaters. The “we’re in control and all is well in our world” attitude of the politicians in GoF The Book gets a bit lost here in trying to focus on the action of the Tournament, which is more pleasing and less subtle for general movie-goers.
Lord, I can’t imagine what it’s like to go see these movies without having read the books first. It must all be a big puzzle of WTF? What just happened? or Why did *that* happen? Actually, I lied, I can imagine what it’s like, I didn’t start reading the books until after I’d seen the first two movies, and I *did* get a fairly distorted (as in over-simplified) idea about the story from the movies alone.
I was going to title this post “Why I like Harry Potter”–meaning the book series, not the character, although I like him, too. Just to put forward why this particular book/movie series, despite its overwhelming popularity and annoying commercial tie-ins, is actually worth my time (snob, snob). At the moment, I would call it probably my only still-current fandom. There’s just nothing out there right now that’s still in production that catches my interest to the degree this does. Doesn’t mean I’m an active part of the on-line HP fandom, I’m not. The Buffyverse burned me out. I can’t take all the pointless kerfluffing you have to wade through just to get a moment of true, enjoyable insight from another fan.
So I keep this pretty much to myself, but the truth is, this is the first film/book/TV series I’ve found since Trek, Star Wars, or the Buffyverse that has its own fully-realized, ever-expanding and detailed World, complete with its own metaphysical rules and social customs which it sticks to with fair consistency. ALONG WITH an entertaining story, an intelligent story, and likeable, complex characters. It has heroes and villians and folks in between with real motives and flaws, causes worth fighting for, and a fair bit of action and fun.
And it has that element that gets to me every damned time–it’s a story of the supernatural or sci-fi that pretends to happen in the real world. Harry’s world is *our* world, not an alternative universe or a galaxy far, far away. So every moment of magic and mystery has to be carefully hidden from us ordinary folk, which is why we see no evidence of it. It’s a hidden subculture and its story. I always love that.
So I immerse myself in that story with much pleasure. But if I do have a meta-perspective at all, where I pay attention to the men and women behind the camera and behind the books, it’s my utter, complete envy of J.K. Rowling. I WANT HER LIFE. O.K., maybe not the husband part of her life, but the rags-to-riches fame and fortune because she wrote an entertaining, complex fantasy series. You can learn a lot from envy, and that’s what I wish I could do. I know after a year plus of struggling with The Destroyer and Angel Season 6 that it’s not beyond me to write a fantasy series. Of course, I’d have to come up with own Fully Realized World, rather than borrowing Mutant Enemy’s, but there you go. I could be her if I wanted.
Hey, I can dream. ; )