Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Harry Potter and the Magic Realism

In today's Crikey newsletter, Peter Craven reports on the new Harry Potter movie:

... it’s so episodic that it actually has the material for a huge mini-series where the snogging and quidditch alternate with the armies marching by night, the deatheaters speeding like a vision of hell through Britain’s low sky.
A huge mini-series where snogging and quidditch alternate with the armies marching by night, eh? Fantasy schmantasy, sounds like real life to me.


Anonymous said...

deatheaters speeding like a vision of hell through Britain’s low sky

I'm picturing Voldemort, wearing a cowboy hat and sunglasses, cueing the Ride of the Valkries up on loudspeakers hanging from his broomstick, as they all fly low over the Thames. The boys love it, and it scares the hell out of the Muggles, etc.


Pavlov's Cat said...

From what I've seen of the trailers (yes, plural -- there are several), it is in fact very like that.

TimT said...

So basically Matthew Arnold, then?

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

(WV: arlegeba)

Pavlov's Cat said...

TimT, exactly, well spotted. In fact this post originally had an extra paragraph about Craven's gift for chucking in literary allusions that turn up the light on whatever he's talking about, but some blog posts just need to be short and pithy.

Besides, I couldn't remember the whole thing from memory so would have had to look it up, which I didn't have the patience for (unlike you, obvs). But it certainly captures the mood of HP and the Half-Blood Prince. The book, that is. I'm not going to the movie until the school hols finish.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I was also going to mention the rather clever and I'm sure deliberate oxymoron that is 'huge mini-series'. So much more elegant than my accidentally tautologous 'remember the whole thing from memory' up there.

dogpossum said...

I'm rewatching the films. I haven't read the books. The films don't make any sense. Mostly it seems like these things happen in each episode:

a) a boy child lives in an abusive home
b) he is rescued by: a teacher, friends, a bus
c) he goes to a boarding school that is all light and colour, but where the headmaster routinely warns the students that there are horrible, dangerous things on the campus that will probably kill them
d) there is christmas and the boy child from an abusive home stays at school, with or without his friends
e) there are scenes of feasts and images of food that are so lavish as to make me feel a bit ill. It's like Peter Greenaway, with the food and menace and everything
f) children run around in the dark in their graduation gowns and are chased by monsters
g) a high-speed, dangerous sport is played by (mostly) boy children. Violence is not only implied but enacted
h) there is some talk of parents, and of wonderful mothers with wonderful eyes, but mostly there is a lot of talk about male family members - brothers, uncles, etc. These either try to kill the boy child or promise to take him away to a nice home in the country. The boy isn't killed, but he is regularly hurt quite badly. He is not taken away to a nice home in the country; he is never really rescued
i) there is some wandering around inside a large, cavernous, tubey building.
j) the children are always observed by people in paintings or by ghosts, neither of which can protect them.

The only nice bits involve magic and food. But both of these are excessive and more than a little disturbing.

I'm not sure I can handle the new film.

Pavlov's Cat said...

And sometimes the food is magic, and that is even more disturbing, as with the vomit-flavoured Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Beans.

Dogpossum, you are a genius.

If you've been watching the movies on the teeve then you will only be up to #3 and won't have seen the one scheduled for this Saturday night, which -- be warned -- is hard to follow even if, like me, you are a Harry Potter tragic. (A fact for which I make no apology and am happy to bore the pants off challengers with endless uber-literary reasons why.) So when a ship suddenly comes up out of the lake, and other apparent non sequiturs, just go with it.

The apparently cyclical nature of the narratives has to do with the school year. Each of the seven books follows a year at Hogwarts and then Harry goes home to his aunt and uncle for the summer hols, on the grounds that that is the safest place for him, given that Voldemort (Flight From Death, the Death Eaters, aspirant immortals, geddit?) is trying to kill him.

The comparison with Peter Greenaway, who is, like Rowling, someone steeped in a particular vision of England, is ABSOLUTELY FREAKING BRILLIANT.

Ampersand Duck said...

...and hopefully when they make the humungous miniseries, or even a SERIES, they'll damn well get Dumbledore right. I hate both choices up to now.

Stephen Fry. He's the perfect Dumblebore. They can make him thinner by CGI, everything else about him is perfect.

[WV = dedor. That's a spoiler]