Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Harry So Fine

Six of the eight Harry Potter movies are out and the thing to be noted is that they have been so consistent in quality. These movies have excellent production values, the special effects are there in a good measure but they never overawe you. As Harry Potter was literature before anything else, they are very well grounded story-wise. Its not something stretched from cartoons or cooked up just for the sake of producing a SFX heavy movie.

The story itself seems to borrow a lot from fantasy-lore and is yet fresh. The forces of dark and fair is familiar to the readers of LOTR already, but unlike LOTR, Harry Potter is based in current times. The magic world is parallel to the normal world. We are all poor magicless muggles, doomed to live our lives as we know it, while somewhere we cannot see, lies a world where battle rages between the good and evil forces.

Hogwarts seems like the countless boarding school stories we gobbled up when young. For me, notably, the Mallory Towers and St.Clare's series. The children grow up and learn values in these series, quite similar to the kids in Hogwarts. There are feasts and sports and studies. Except in Harry Potter books they learn about the dark arts, fortelling future and casting spells.

The horcrux that contain the soul of the dark lord is also so similar to the evil magician who could not be killed because his life was in a parrot kept in a cage in a faraway castle.

The muggles world which Harry Potter grew up in is so Dickensian. He is an oppressed and disadvantaged orphan, subject to ridicule by his foster parents, living in a tiny room and denied any privileges or rights. He is denied any knowledge of his legacy, and is not allowed any letters even. By contrast, in the magic world he is famous, rich and accomplished. The magic world could be a fantasy of a poor orphan, like the magic world conjured up by the match-girl. But this world is so real, that you quite believe something like this could be going on right now.

So while Harry Potter story absorbs so many elements from other such tales, it is unique in its own way. There are no elves and dwarves and talking animals, but there are lot of people who work magic, giants and weird animals. Its world is lovable and warm and full of people you like instantly. Like Hagrid, Dumbledore, the weasly twins. Hermonine and Ron are the kinds of friends you would like to have.

Yes ! No wonder the books and the movies have such a hold on millions of children and grown-ups.

The books were so vivid and popular that it was inevitable that they would be made into movies.

In the first movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone we were shown the poor orphan boy who is having a bad time with his foster parents. He soon discovers his wonderful legacy and enters the world of wizards. Unlike the muggles world where he is a disadvantaged orphan, here he is already famous and rich. Along with Harry it was great to step into Hogwarts, the moving staircases, the talking pictures, the talking hats, Hermoine, Ron, Dumbledore, quidditch. OH the WHOLE JING BANG ! This movie will never lose its sheen for me.

Things are still at kid-level, but are getting a bit serious. The world is still hooked on to Harry Potter. He is gradually getting more clues to his legacy. Looking back it is easy to connect the unease with which Harry will later face regarding the pull of the dark side.

The kids are no longer wee. In this one they have to take some action. It is really my favorite of all (so far) HP movies. Ron-Hermoine action starts tentatively. Hermoine looks fabulous. Emma Watson is turning into a hottie without getting into the gauchy teen phase. Sirius Black is not what they thought he would be. Harry gains a godfather.

Harry finds himself embroiled in a serious game which could be fatal. Goblets of Fire does result in a death, that of a senior student. But Harry comes out of it, growing wiser and stronger by the year.

Decidedly dark, Harry begins to find out the extent of evil that the dark lord can summon around him. In this bleak movie, Harry learns what makes him different, its his friends who nourish his soul and keep him away from evil.

Harry has to learn how to be quick on his feet, be a bit of a sleuth, be a bit clever to find the means to serve his needs. He has lost one friend already and must lose another. He knows now that the time has come when he has to venture out and seek to defeat the Dark Lord.

The last book in the series is to be made into TWO movies, slated to be released in the years 2010 and 2011. Here is wishing there is no postponement and our decade long fellowship with Harry Potter comes to a satisfactory culmination.


  1. nice summary! i love to bash the movies but i do own all of them ... and will definitely get the remaining when they come out :) i love the way rowling worked the story arnd, since hp is new to all the magic stuff, he's constantly learning and we the reader/viewer learn through him! the last two parts should be very exciting, the book is pretty intense and since they will be making up plot points they shld have some very crowded movies. i'm a bit sad that the romances of the half blood prince (because the book is actually abt relationships, romantic and family) were missed out except for ron-hermione and ginny-harry but oh well u cant have everything!!

  2. Wow, one stop read for the whole series. I don't know if something is wrong with me or not, but I haven't enjoyed the HP movies. I liked the books for sure. No doubt, it if nicely executed and shot but still it does nothing to me. If I go by the funda of movies cant be better than the books on which they are based, then what do I call this that I just Love LOTR movies.. Loverly ones...

  3. CP - I was a slow starter on Harry. I have read only the first book. I do wish to read them all, but all in a good time. I keep watching all the movies on POGO, tho they are in Hindi there, but still they are fun.

    Ya - I guess for cinematic effect they have to compress the books. If there were a tv series they could be detailed and endless.

  4. Vee - I couldnt read the books, but got hooked via the movies.

    LOTR are my special love. The books are almost like bible to me. In scope they are immense - epical. I liked the movies too, given that they couldnt be as sweeping as the books. LOTR is like early early history before men became common on earth.

  5. hey ava
    iloved this last one. emma watson is a hottie for sure. very grim film like you said but for some reason i liked this the most. found it captured the eerieness of the wizard world well. lovely write-up.

  6. Y - so true. I was captivated too !

  7. Going through the post was like going through my own heart where a wish of going to Hogwarts is always alive.
    Isn't it amazing that the story talks about a magical world which is so different than ours and still it's so easy to relate to it and feel like a part of it. Harry having spent his childhood in Muggal world, the joy and curiouscity at the encounter of Magical world was just same as the readers... and from there on I always found myself walking wid him and going through the same things. While reading the part when Dumbledore died... I cried my heart out.... and felt the joy of victory when Harry defeated the dark lord. Such beautifully written magical story. I wish J K Rowling will come up with more stories and books about Harry...or may be his kids ;)

  8. :)Purvi:) You said it. It is the Rowling magic which makes you identify with this world.

    I am not too sure about hermoine and Ron, but am sure that Ginny is going to be Mrs Harry Potter and they will have a kid who is better than them both and their parents in magic. That will be something.

  9. Hi Ava,
    I dont like the movies, yet I have all of them. I too had thought of the parrot thingie when I saw thr movie. If I remember the movie correctly, the hero had to go thru a maze of swinging axes to get to the parrot!

  10. Eisi, I love the movies. But I read about the parrot in so many fairy tales, dont tell me there was a movie like that too !

  11. Wow that was goooood.....I guess I am the only one who hasn't watched the sequels of Harry Potter although I loved the 1st and 2nd part....

  12. Val, you are a rare one I guess. Love it or hate it, cant ignore Harry. The premiere show I went to was jampacked with fans.

  13. Hey I first came to know about Harry Porter through films and then moved to read a couple of the books which could not move me the way it did the world but anyway I liked the movies and watched them also because I am bit lazy so want a shorcut way of knowing the story :D

  14. Dhiman, ha yes ! Even I have read only one Harry Potter book so far. But I will .. later .. own the whole DVD set AND the set of books.

  15. Love the revu and all the info.
    I always loved to watch HP as a movie ... but for reasons unknown to me .. i liked the LOTR trilogy much more facinating

    Great writeup !

  16. That's a nice review! I have just read the first 2 parts and the 4th one, and saw the first 2 movies. I prefer the books to the movies any day.
    Nice blog! :)

  17. Pirate - LOTR is toppers fo rme too. But kya karen, its over now.

    HP is ongoing !

    Anubha ! thanks

  18. Sorry babe...read this when you wrote it and promised to myself that I would come back that same day and comment...totally broke the promise :(

    anyway I am here right now..to tell you that i love this ....a awesome job getting all the seven on one post...these are some of my most loved books as of now.


  19. Thanks gal .. HP is spl ! for sure !

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  21. Thanks for ur help AVVZzz

    you may delete it now .. works done .. god bless

  22. Love your article on HP .
    I think i agree with you.
    But if you watch the films you can notice a difference in the storytelling from priznor of azkaban onwards .. thats coz of change of director

    cool write up

  23. Pudding after dinner to this Hari Puttar fan!

    You are marked absent and negligent on your other sites!

  24. Ashwin. Am reading books these days. No time t write. :)

  25. I've read a few of the Harry Potter books, and as far as children's literature goes, I think they're alright.

    But something about the whole story disturbs me. Especially how Harry Potter is sort of 'destined' to be great and do great things.
    I mean, there are plenty of others in the story who are better at performing magic, or are more daring or smarter than Harry Potter.
    Yet, Harry Potter is kind of 'born into' greatness. Everybody loves him because of who he is, not what he does.

    I realise this is how things are in the real world many a time, but the presentation of this as a 'good thing' bothers me.

  26. Tinku,

    Yes, most time the great Harry Potter is really a legend. It is almost like a christian thing - the meek shall inherit the earth - so downtrodden Harry, the David, is destined to slay Goliath.

  27. Nice summary.. I loved the cartoon a lot :) did u read the books as well?

  28. ET, naah, havent read the books except the first one. I liked it. But now I am thinking I will get the set after i see all the movies.

  29. I cant make up my mind who I love more....Harry Potter or JK Rowling;-)).

    I've seen the 1st 4 movies but I have to admit here tht I enjoy reading the books more.
    I have the whole set & read them all in order atleast once a year.

    Harry Potter rules;-D!!!!!

  30. Good for you Reflections. Maybe I will also get the entire set.