Or, There Will Be Mild Spoilers
I have really, really mixed feelings about this movie.
I think that it’s probably why it has taken me so long to write this review. I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One) on Thursday night. It is currently Sunday, and I still haven’t gathered my wits about me to write a ‘real’ review for it. As a fan, I think I’m predisposed to love it automatically. But let me quote the teen classic (LOL) 10 Things I Hate About You to illustrate what I felt when I was watching the film, “I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”
The past few days, I am usually in that place where even though I am not super satisfied with the film—but this just might be because they left out this one part that I held dear and found really crucial to the story so I just might be resentful—I also want to maul and attack everybody who says that they found it dull, boring, and dragging. Much like this dude.
My Harry Potter film reviews always seem to turn into a long list of all the parts left out from the movie, so I’m going to try and not do that this time around. I think that because this series really, honestly means so much to me is why I am so protective of how it is being portrayed and adapted. And when people write it off, I get defensive because I truly feel like I am being personally attacked, even though I obviously am not. (My issues, not yours, don’t worry. I’m trying to get past~ this.)
Yes, it was a very beautiful movie, both visually and score-wise. The shots were beautifully composed, and it gives us a change of scenery, and also a change of overall mood. The tone of the film is set by the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour’s speech, preparing us for what is to come. The film’s aesthetics really matched the content—most of it was dark and dreary, ominous and at times, kind of hopeless—and coupled with the excellent score, the scenes were made whole. I think, though, that they succeeded so well in upping the excitement of the fast-paced parts, and highlighting the hopelessness of the the dreary parts, which is why when the parts filled with action were punctuated with those bleak and tragic times, there was such a big shift that it was a bit confusing to deal with. Which is why some people found it boring and dragging. Everybody stepped up their acting, especially the Trio, with performances that have into something really commendable.
One of my favorite parts of the film was something that wasn’t in the books, but encapsulated just why I loved Harry and Hermione’s friendship. It was when they were dancing to a song by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, inside a tent in the middle of nowhere, after being abandoned by Ron. I am definitely not a Harry/Hermione shipper and, even though people might read this scene that way, I feel like it was really such a great depiction of their sibling-like relationship. The song choice was also perfect, speaking about living with circumstances that they could not help.
The Harry Potter franchise is largely about friendship and bravery, the weight of our choices, the complexity of a person’s character, the presence of good and evil in each person. And following that vein, I think the Deathly Hallows worked pretty well, but I also feel like this is also where it failed. A friend of mine said that what she loved about the series is that everything, everyone is so grand, and I agree with her. You see how even the slightest gesture affects the greater outcome, how a person’s decision to be good or bad can weigh so much more. To borrow a line from the Great Sirius Black, “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
To display that complexity, and reduce it from a book that is a few hundred pages long is a really hard thing to do. They obviously tried to condense it to fit as much as they could in such a short amount of time, but I really feel like a lot of the tension and moral dilemmas and character layers were glossed over and lost. Speaking of moral dilemmas, I loved what they did with the Malfoys. I really have got to hand it to Draco, and obviously, Tom Felton. It was one of the better performances in the film, for me, and I’ve always loved how they got into Draco’s character. Such a great source of tension—you can really see the fight going on in his head.
This isn’t my Harry Potter post, sadly! What a misleading title, though, isn’t it? What you must know is that I have seen it, and I have loved it, and during the screening I was watching, I won myself a faucet:
The thing is, I have been so swamped—with work and with other deadlines—and I have been preoccupied with other things that I haven’t found the time to write a proper review. I just am disappointed by two things that they glossed over, because those parts really were important to me, but I generally found it such a great adaptation. More later.
Now, about the title. It’s not a big secret that I am easily excited about things, but here are a few that have made the past few days pretty bearable, despite the stewing holiday stress and busy-ness. Obviously, Harry Freakin’ Potter is one of them. From the last post, you could say that I was conducting an experiment. Here’s what came of it:
More photos under the cut, way down in the post.
I’ve also been making other book-destroying (please forgive me) experiments. Tonight, I started on this one:
I think it’s pretty obvious what I am trying to do. Broke 3 blades so far, but I’m on page 157 now.
If this were a horcrux and I was the hero, we would all likely be dead by now. As I am slow.
And then, books! Excellent poetry collection by Katrina Vandenberg called Atlas. It was published in 2004 and is absolutely beautiful. Will post my favorites sometime soon, maybe? Also in the middle of “Till We Have Faces” by C.S. Lewis. And in the mail, I have finally gotten some chapbooks from Mr. Steve Roggenbuck. It’s a collection of short poetry, and I’ve got a few copies I will be giving away, so if you see me in the next few days, holler! I will hand you one. :)
I actually really do have a lot more to say about these things, but I can’t seem to find the time to really think about what to say and what to write about them. I keep thinking, “Oh, I would love to tell everybody about how this is so-and-so,” but every time I sit down, there are a million other things I have to attend to, and my brain flits around too much and I end up not saying or doing very much.
I think that’s an indication of something; I’m just not sure exactly what that something is.
P.S. I think I will change the font size of this blog. Is the text too small? I’m kind of thinking that it is.
The Start of September means a lot of things to me. It means that it is Kirk Long’s birthday, which in turn means that I am a creeper for knowing that sort of information (but it’s kind of along the lines of cannot unsee, you know?). It also means that it’s the start of term for Hogwarts students, which in turn means that I am a huge dork unable to move on from this fantastic series. Not that I would particularly like to, because I do enjoy being part of this fandom.
I was toying with the idea of posting a Harry Potter-related post for everyday of September, just to prove to you all that my obsession knows very little bounds. But I am restraining myself. Also, it’s very hard to think of things to post for thirty consecutive days. And also, I fear for my bandwidth, because it’s just really not going to hold.
Anyway, I’ve decided, instead, to curate a list of some of my favorite things about the Harry Potter community. While it houses the strangest, most repressed people in the world, the HP community is also home to some of the most brilliant people still roaming about on this earth. And, you know, I’m really out to prove that. And so, a list! Of my favorite HP-related, unofficial projects. Get ready for some totally awesome finds.
First up is Wizard Rock, or in shorthand, Wrock! The pioneers for this strange genre of music is a little group called Harry and the Potters (who’ve actually had their own Daytrotter session!). It also paved the way for similarly-named groups (e.g., Draco and the Malfoys, Ginny and the Weasleys. Another name trend follows The Remus Lupins, e.g., The Whomping Willows, The Moaning Myrtles, etc). The genre is curious because it doesn’t lump the groups by sound, rather, by subject matter. Most Wrock groups are just bands that are inspired by Harry Potter, most of whom have songs that center on the series. Here is a website to cater to most of your Wrock needs, because a bullet point is way too short to delve into the whole business. Here’s a list of most known Wrock bands, though. It is quite a sizable list.
To the untrained eye (and ear), this is probably the dorkiest thing in the world. However, if you must know, Wrock has a very big following—sometimes, these bands even go on tour! My favorite is probably The Remus Lupins, whose battlecry is: “Fight evil, read books!”
The Harry Potter Alliance
HP Alliance exists for the furtherance of good. It was set up to combat our world’s version of “dark and difficult times.” Targeting issues like global warming, genocide and poverty, the HP Alliance uses its connection to the millions of HP fans to campaign against these issues, partnering with organizations like Genocide Intervention Network, Amnesty International and Oxfam. Just recently, they won $250,000 from the Chase Challenge, meant to benefit causes such as literacy and GLBT rights. They’ve also helped protect the civilians of Darfur and Burma, and had a hand in Helping Haiti Heal. An excellent use of their powers, if you ask me.
A Very Potter Musical
Where do I even begin? This is one of the best things on YouTube right now, probably. A Very Potter Musical is a hilarious fan-made parody of the World of Harry Potter. Highlights include excellent cast performances, most notably of Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy, and of course, the appearance of Rumbleroar, the Headmaster of Pigfarts, Hogwarts’ counterpart… in Mars. You can watch the hilarity ensue over here. Uh-huh, yeah, I made it easy for you.
The Shoebox Project
A Marauder-era fic, complete with photos and drawings and letters between Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. It is, at the same time, tender, endearing, charming and funny. A hypothetical glimpse at the life of James Potter and his friends. One of the best things ever to grace LiveJournal, if I may. It was used to be housed over here, I don’t know what happened. However, a kind soul has uploaded the .pdfs, so you can still read up and catch up with the rest of the internet. It hasn’t been updated in a while, however. We’re all still waiting for that fateful day.
Mugglecast might be my favorite Harry Potter podcast, ever. I remember listening to all sorts of wonderful discussions and theories on my way to and from school. It was particularly exciting, pre-Deathly Hallows, and the hosts were all speculating as to what the remaining horcruxes were, and who exactly R.A.B. was, and what would Harry’s demise be. There was even one episode where they tried to piece together the ending of the book based on the released artwork of the hardcover edition. As far as I know, it’s still up and running, especially since the last film adaptation is still about to be released, but I haven’t listened in lately. Maybe I should take this as a sign that I should start again.
Well, that’s it for now! Honorable Mentions include The Draco/Hermione Fic Exchange, which is only my favorite fanfic exchange in the world (Yes, I’m a D/Hr shipper, what of it?), The Draco Trilogy, which was written way before Harry Potter came to an end (so there’s a lot of inconsistencies now). The author, Cassandra Clare, has recently launched a professional career, with a fantasy trilogy of her own. Lastly! My Immortal, which is the best Harry Potter fanfic on the Internet right now.
By best, I meant worst. But I suppose it is good for the lulz.
OK, for the rest of September, I will be posting a lot of Harry-centric bits and pieces. Consider this a warning, to stay away or for excitement, your pick! Additionally, you can read my Harry Potter story here, on Book Report.
I keep forgetting to put this up, but a few months ago, I tacked two sign-up sheets for Dumbledore’s Army in school. Loads of people signed up — most of them were fictional — but by the time I took the second one down, I knew I had to scan it in and show whoever reads my claptrap this glorious thing:
click for bigger.
Did you find it? Did you figure out why this is so cool?
So, for the past few weeks, I had been perusing the Tumblr syndication of My Life Is Average, a (somewhat) counter-”attack” on the negativity of the popular site F* My Life, where readers share mishaps and mayhem of their own (miserable, little) lives. MLIA operates in pretty much the same way — readers submit, others vote, et cetera — but unlike FML, it centers on the average things that happen in life.
The quality of these “average” posts aren’t the boring, Bella-Swan-narration type of entries, though. The people that frequent this part of the Internet are those who have not been disenchanted by the screwed-upness of the world, but are, instead, still fascinated by the little things. An example: “Today, I took a test in science class. One of the questions was “What is arguably the most dangerous element?” I said the element of surprise. I got extra credit. MLIA.” (link) Another example: “Today my husband and I pulled over at McDonalds after visiting a viking market. We were fully dressed up as vikings. The girl at the drive-through stared at us. I told her it is rude to stare at time-travellers. MLIA.” (link)
I guess another quality of MLIA that drew me in is the seeming domination of people who liked Harry Potter, cats, zombies, ninjas, Narnia, Pokémon, finding Waldo and so on. The appeal of MLIA lies not in second-hand embarrassment or pity commiseration, but in the joy of finding “kindred spirits” — for the lack of a better term — in the course of daily life.
Inspired by this thought (and the rousing feeling in my bones!), I read this MLIA post, and this one, both of which concern putting up sign-up sheets for Dumbledore’s Army on bulletin boards in school. (Dumbledore’s Army is the insurrection group Harry Potter put up in Hogwarts when the toad-faced Dolores Umbridge threatened to take over the school, putting up systems and rules that remind one of the Dark Ages.)
I put two sheets up on bulletin boards in school yesterday, and this is what I saw at about 9 a.m. today:
(free board on the way to the library)
Ateneans, I’ve got to say, I’m a little bit disappointed. I don’t know, maybe I was expecting actual names instead of fictional ones that were in the books. (I’m not going to even touch on the desecration of the Sec-A sign-up sheet. Edward Cullen, GTFO.) Anyway, I’m a little sad about this little failed experiment. I was looking forward to see who would actually take the time to put their names on it, not see a bunch of names of fictional characters written by who knows who.
A big hello to Irene Lukban, Matt S. and Myta Santigo, though. Whoever you are, you guys rule!
I have a rather peculiar history with Harry Potter. I started reading it in between fourth and fifth grade, I think (I remember I bought the first book right before a cousin’s party at Racks, and reading the first few paragraphs because I really couldn’t get into the rhythm of the story), but my love affair with The Boy Who Lived was quickly stunted because right after I finished the first book, my parents thought it best to disallow me from pursuing the rest of the series, since they believed it to be potentially harmful in certain ways.
In the sixth grade, I began to sneak off to the library and read the Chamber of Secrets, chapter after painstaking chapter, in between classes and a friend lent me her copy of the Prisoner of Azkaban. The first film, I saw by accident (and without sound), because it showed on a plane I was on, but I didn’t want my parents to find out I was watching so I didn’t wear the earphones. That was really enough for me — seeing the books that were so dear to my heart onscreen, even though it was on mute, was really like magic for me.
I don’t really blame my parents — they were pretty hardcore Christians, and they just wanted the best for me, and I suppose literature on witchcraft and wizardry wasn’t high on their list. I snuck off to watch the films, and read fan fiction (Draco/Hermione through & through), went to HP fansites occasionally, though not very often since each time after, I’d have to clear the browser history and delete cookies. I even got caught a few times, but my parents had been pretty merciful.
Needless to say, my obsession with Harry was pretty covert, that is until I was in fourth year high school and Goblet of Fire was coming out in theaters, and I asked my dad if I could please watch the movie. And he told me that, yes, yes I could. Biggest shock in my life, I tell you. Since then, I’d bought my own copy of the books and have re-read them again and again, and I know you know this: I have never looked back.
Not a lot of people will understand this, but the series really, truly changed my life, and each time I encounter it, still does. JK’s writing is not that great, but holy crap, the things that Harry and all the other characters have taught me. Even the Vatican sees it now. Every time I think about it, I still get shivers, my heart still swells. Because I know that no matter what happens, no matter what kind of shit hits the fan, no matter what new evil appears — the world is still good and it will be safe, as long as there are people who keep fighting for it. It sounds like a stupid thing to do, but whenever I get upset and I can’t stop crying (and this has been happening quite a few times recently), I only get a Harry Potter book, no matter which one, read it, and I calm down almost instantaneously.
I don’t know, I guess I just wanted to get that out. I have a rather complicated opinion regarding the HBP film, but no matter what they left out, kept or added, I still do love it because it’s Harry Potter. I never got my Hogwarts letter, but I never stopped believing.
An extensive blow-by-blow is available on my LJ. I didn’t put it here, because it’s spoiler-laden, and I wanted to be careful.