The End of an Era

I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan, though I wasn’t to begin with.  It wasn’t until the third book came out that the phenomenon even registered on my radar.  At the time, I remember thinking “What’s so great about a children’s book that grown adults would stand outside of a Borders at midnight just to buy a copy?!”  When I mentioned my thoughts to a co-worker, she loaned me her copy of The Sorcerer’s Stone with a knowing smile.  She was right . . . I was soon hooked.

I never did stand in line at midnight to get a copy of the subsequent books, but I did pre-order them.  An early riser, I would simply show up the following morning when the bookstore opened and pick up my copy.  The line was never longer than 10 minutes that way, which allowed me to scurry home and ensconce myself in the world that Ms. Rowling created even quicker.

When I first learned that the books would be turned into movies, I was thrilled.  Here was a chance for people like me to feel on par with those who had salivated over each installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  We “Potterfiles” were just as fervent in our adoration of the happenings at Hogwarts, and just as excited to see it up on the big screen.

Regardless of what the general consensus is, I think Chris Columbus did a wonderful job directing the first two movies.  I know many critics felt he played it too safe, but I loved how true he stayed to the books.  It was after Mr. Columbus passed the torch that my enjoyment of the movies went downhill.  When he stopped directing the films, the quality of the movies dropped drastically, in my opinion.  So, from The Prisoner of Azkaban onward, I’ve disliked the movies more and more with each installment.  The critics all seemed to enjoy the avant garde aspects that the new directors took to film the movies, and in truth, I have no qualms about the look of their visions.  It’s just that there have been so many plot omissions, or character and location changes, that I feel the original spirit of the books was trampled on for the sake of some eye candy and time “constraints”.  I believe Mr. Columbus would’ve been able to make the films dark as well, while still staying true to the original vision.  And I do realize the screenwriter has much to do with the morph from page to silver screen, but Steve Kloves also wrote the ones directed by Chris Columbus, which remain my favorites.

However, even though I’ve begun to dread the re-imagining of each installment, I’ve still gone to see each movie on opening night.  Now, I’m not a big fan of crowds – can’t stand them, actually –  but there’s some part of me that feels that I owe it to the franchise to continue my attendance the same way as I started.  I did that when Mr. Lucas came out with the Star Wars prequels, and – since there’s just one movie left in the HP cannon – I can do it with this one.

There are some people who would like JK Rowling to continue writing books in the Hogwarts universe (and they’ll get their wish, to a certain extent, now that she’s coming out with Pottermore), but I personally think she ended the story in such a perfect way, that it would almost seem like selling out if she were to write more.  There are times when it’s okay to let something end.  We reached the end of Harry’s journey in the books, and are now about to reach it in film.  As much as I will also miss “visiting” his world, I think it’s time for us to let it go.  It allows more space for the next unlikely hero to enter our realities.

So I will watch the finale of Harry’s adventures on the big screen next week.  I know I will be very upset at some of the major changes they’ve made, but it will still be the closure I need.  Maybe in a few years – when my memory of the differences dims a bit – I’ll be able to watch the movies and find enjoyment in them, rather than critiques.  If not, I’ll at least still have the books to escape to whenever I need a bit of magic.


8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Marie
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 09:19:43

    I could have written your post – I totally agree about Chris Columbus and the direction the films have taken since. Like you, I’ve seen them all and will see the last one, but my enjoyment has been lessened by the ‘artistic license’ taken by subsequent directors.


    • Alyx Morgan
      Jul 08, 2011 @ 10:29:59

      Yeah. If they wanted to change the stories so much, they should’ve made their own movie & called it something else. “Artistic license” is a phrase that bothers me a lot, when it comes to movie adaptations.

      Thanks for stopping by, Marie.


  2. Susan Dunn
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 09:40:59

    I’ve only seen the first HP movie. It was great and choke full of symbolism and fairy tale motifs. It stayed pretty true to the hero myth cycle, too, so it was helpful to watch it for structure and I watched it for a screenwriting tricks for writers class.

    I personally haven’t had a chance to read the books, though. Did you read all of them?


    • Alyx Morgan
      Jul 08, 2011 @ 10:36:17

      Hi Susan. First off, thanks for stopping by. 🙂

      I have read all of the HP books, multiple times. My fiance & I are currently reading them to his daughter, & she’s enjoying them as much as we do. There are many who criticize JK Rowling’s writing style, & I agree that she uses “said” a LOT, but it’s only really distracting when you read it aloud. When I read them to myself, her pacing & vivid characterizations & storytelling are so wonderful that I don’t even notice the “saids” so much.

      The books get darker as they go along – & there was a time or two that I wanted to throw the book across the room; I was so upset about an event – but that was part of Harry’s journey, & part of what pulled me in. The Prisoner of Azkaban (the third book) is my personal favorite. Unfortunately, that’s my least favorite movie, because of how badly they butchered the story.

      Hopefully you’ll be able to read the books some time. There’s even more symbolism & magic involved.


  3. Nancy Adams
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 11:45:52

    Hi Alyx,

    I’m a huge HP fan, too, and like you have read them several times. I agree with you about most of the movies, and especially hate it when they add things that aren’t in the books (as they did in the 6th movies).

    But I thought last year’s first installment of the last book was much better, very true to the book, including the dark tone. Looking forward to seeing the new one.

    Those who have only seen the movies are missing a treat. If you love fantasy, do yourself a favor and read the whole series!


  4. Dana
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 14:47:45

    I love these books… and one of the sweetest things my ex ever did for me was go stand in line at midnight to get me the latest book… and then sneak it on our nightstand so I saw it the next morning.

    While I think CC was true to the books, I found his movies less magical than the ones that followed… part of that was things like having the kids clap hands on their cheeks and yell in tandem (way too Home Alone for me) … but the more obvious style (IMO) also suited the earlier books when the characters are younger. I love how the movies became darker… and felt immersed in the world of Harry Potter instead of as if I was watching a movie. And having adapted a book into a screenplay I really appreciate the art of trying to stay true to a novel and still make it cinematically approachable. So… Love all the movies for different reasons and I think the last book was a great place to end the series.


  5. Alyx Morgan
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:18:30

    Awww…that was a very sweet gesture on his part.

    I also enjoy the dark look to the films. Visually, the latter ones have been gorgeous. And yes, I’m sure it’s not easy to adapt a book into a movie, but there have been some obvious choices that I completely disagree with. In the last movie, I already know that the final scene with Snape is happening in a place completely different from the book. I can’t see any reason that would justify such a switch, but maybe that’s why I don’t write screenplay adaptations.

    Thanks for stopping by, Dana, & giving the other point of view. 😉


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