Sunday, November 18

We all went to see Harry Potter today. My assessment? Same as most critics in general, with a few differences in specifics. It's a good adaptation, but not great. The concern to be faithful to the book lest the rabid fans be disappointed or enraged obviously placed a bit of a leaden hand on the proceedings. Most of the tricks were there, but it wasn't quite as enthralling on an emotional level as it could have been - but maybe not. Perhaps our familiarity with the book and our closeness to it chronologically limits our appreciation. I'm not a filmmaker, so I don't know quite how to explain these things, but I guess I felt there was an emotional thread that was missing - it popped out once in a while, but it wasn't there consistently - the sense of being mysteriously different and finally finding a place in which you fit, where your differences are explained and understood - the quest of growing up.

Seeing the film only deepened my puzzlement at the Harry-haters among some religious folk. The magic here is so absolutely not the point. The point in the Harry Potter books are human and humane values of honesty, loyalty, courage, friendship and sacrifice. Harry, Ron and Hermione aren't rewarded because they perform "occult" acts. They're rewarded because they want to stop evil and use their wits and other natural talents to do it. Good lessons, if you ask me.

I didn't think as badly of this movie as John Podhoretz of the National Review did, but nor can I rave as did Roger Ebert. It was a good adaptation - faithful. Didn't violate the author's vision. But it didn't expand on it either.

It's interesting that my little Potter-phile Katie, while living in happy anticipation of the film, didn't get nearly as excited about the release of the movie as she did about the release of the fourth book in the series a year and a half ago. The written word obviously still has a story-telling power that film can't always match. (The difference might be simply that while she was interested to see how the images in the book might "really" look on film, in the end, there would be no real surprises for her in the movie, as there would be in the book. And there weren't, as it turned out. She liked it, but she wasn't entranced, preferring, at times, to be entertained by Joseph to the movie.)


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