Harry Potter and the Films of Enchantment

Ron Weasley, Harry Potter, and Hermione Granger
After seeing Children of Men the other month (a film which really deserves its own post and analysis…), I decided that I needed to see more movies by Alfonso Cuarón, which meant that I needed to break down and finally see the “darker” Harry Potter movie Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which I’ve actually sort of been wanting to see for a while, but felt silly for getting into the whole Harry Potter series.

Yes, I know that I shouldn’t have felt silly for watching the Harry Potter movies, and I’m sure the books are engrossing and all that, but I just wanted to resist. As I’ve become increasingly more “mainstream” since college (see: Lost, Desperate Housewives, “getting together on certain nights to watch television shows with friends,” Project Runway, etc.), I just wanted to keep part of me not to predictable. Oh well.

And, of course, if I were to watch Prisoner of Azkaban, it meant that I would have to start with The Sorcerer’s Stone and go from there.

So last night I finished The Goblet of Fire and I must say that I’ve been extremely impressed with the Harry Potter movies. They are really quite fun to watch and the acting all-around (the children and adult actors) is really well-done.

One thing that struck me, however, is the difficulty of filming a book series as it is being written. Let’s say, for example, that Sirius Black is mentioned but the filmmakers (and let’s also pretend that when they made the film the novel The Prisoner of Azkaban hadn’t been published) decided that they could toss out the references to his character and it wouldn’t matter… only to find out that he is in fact important and foreshadowing something about him in the first film would really have paid off in the third.

For example, I keep noticing a motif of snakes throughout the films. Not reading the books, I’m not sure whether J.K. Rowling mentions snakes all the time, but I’m sure hoping (and assuming) that they foreshadow some major event that will come in one of the final books/films. If not, it just seems that the World of Harry Potter includes lots of snakes for no real reason.

While I’m glad the I get to watch the films now, part of me wonders if it wouldn’t have been a better idea (from an artistic/storytelling perspective) to wait until Rowling finished all of her books, then film the series so that the movies could pick up and highlight nuances and themes. Plus, the films would’ve maintained consistency (much like the Lord of the Rings), a fact that every single Wiki article seems to note (“The Hogwarth castle has a different layout…”).

That said, I’m definitely looking forward to summer 2007 to catch The Order of the Phoenix, and I am even contemplating reading the novels in the meantime. Scary, eh?

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