Monday, July 16, 2007

Order of the Phoenix

I love the Harry Potter books.

I'm not one who leaps blindly into the popular. Not that I would or do necessarily dismiss the popular out of hand, I am often skeptical of them. Perhaps over-skeptical with some.

In this case, my friend Jo introduced them to me right as they were at the first beginnings of what would become a popular phenomenon.

The books, at least the six out at the time of this writing, with the seventh coming out in the next week, are wonderfully rich. They have layers of meaning. They are rich in understanding of the myths of the world and what they represent. They are also rich in literacy, plays on language and love of language abound in them.

Even if I didn't enjoy them personally, I'd have to acknowledge the benefit of their popularity. The fact that a popular phenomenon has gotten millions of children to read and enjoy books. Not only books, but books that are very solidly literate, about literate characters who live within a literate world. In this post-literate world, it will undoubtedly not cure the problem, it can only help to have more children learning the joy of reading.

Unfortunately, this makes many of the pleasures of the books impossible to translate wholly into cinema, and many of the others difficult at best.

The movies made have been a mixed-bag, at best. All have done well with casting and set-design. The first two get the details right at the expense of creating any substantive sense of mystery or wonder, at least on any level that even approaches the books. Prisoner of Azkaban runs much tighter and finally captures the mystery and wonder in spades.

My initial reaction to Goblet of Fire was mixed, but positive. In retrospect, that feeling has become more mixed. It continues only a bit of the wonder, but loses most of the mystery.

Order of the Phoenix comes much closer to replicating the success of the third movie. The mystery is still a bit buried in things, but the wonder is returned to nearly the same levels. It is also the first to make any substantial effort to recreate the literateness, and generally with success. It's also the most British of the movies, all of the previous movies have had their Britishness at least a little bit watered-down.

I could give further detail, compliment the many excellent performances, etc. Just as I could acknowledge that the CGI giant is so incredibly bad that it should have been cut from the movie entirely.

In the end, I'll merely say that I'm confident in this remaining one of the two Harry Potter movies I feel positive about as a whole, at least until I feel that way about a third.

And I can't help but feel joyous about so large an audience seeing something so... applicable to the current state of the world.


Noel Tanti said...

i agree as regards the giant... and they made him look like the MAD MAGAZINE boy...

otherwise i thoroughly enjoyed the movie:

Neil Sarver said...

Yes. That's it exactly! Thank you!

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