Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HARRY POTTER: A LAMENT

(Warning: Total geek-out and spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.)

Back in 2006, I wrote a piece for Dumbledoreisnotdead.com, a special part of fantasy media officionado David Haber’s WizardNews.com family of Web sites. As you might have guessed, the site dealt mainly with the backlash caused when JK Rowling killed off that most-beloved character Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Unlike a lot of people across the Internet, though, I didn’t waste my time hemming and hawing about how Rowling would bring him back to life. Rather, I talked about the malleability of death in myth and fantasy. Turns out I was pretty close to how Rowling planned it, after a fashion.

Anyway, as a great admirer of the books, that next year I said my final goodbyes like so many others when in July 2007 I read the last printed installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I rather liked the flash-forward in the epilogue. It left me with a sense of open-ended finality I found very satisfying. I have this image of Harry, grown up and walking his beat as an auror, keeping the streets safe, perhaps using similar methods as another hard-assed cop named Harry. Maybe he’s calling some dark wizard troll shit (and, as you know, three things happen to troll shit), or regaling some old goblin with a tale about a certain wood nymph who specialized in helping old goblins grow mellow and more worldly. (Author’s note: If Rowling had Harry keep the Elder Wand, I probably could come up with more analogies along these lines. Just sayin’. “This is the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in the world…”)

Still, I wasn’t quite done with the Harry Potter universe. After all, there were the movies. So yes, I fell into that rabbit hole as well and watched each as they came out to the best of my ability. Well, this past weekend I rented a copy of The Deathly Hallows: Part Two (No, I didn’t watch it in the theaters. Sue me.). Mind you, I view the splitting of a book-based movie into two segments a fairly lame and underhanded marketing gimmick meant to squeeze as much money out of a gullable public as possible. In the case of Deathly Hallows, though, I will grudgingly concede to its necessity. The book is just too damn long. Trying to compact it into one film would have had the same result as David Lynch’s Dune and Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings cliffnotesian nightmares.

I have to hand it to the cast and crew. Like the rest of movie series it remained remarkably true to the original book’s story line, much more than many other film adaptations. Still, of all the Harry Potter movies, Part Two seemed to deviate the most. Many of the scenes held true, but there still was a good measure of changes, shifting around and cutting out. On the whole, though, I guess I can forgive that.

On the whole, they made a good adaptation, but I didn’t have the kind of sense of sad finality I had when I finished reading the series, maybe because I’d already said my goodbyes. So, as I wait for the specfic media industry to fill the void left by the series’ conclusion in a manner that has nothing to do with hip, teenage vampires; eye-candy werewolves; zombies; warrior princesses; San Franciscan sister-witches; or stories that should start with, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…,” I’ll just keep looking for that new reading fix. I understand Rowling has launched a kind of online continuation of the series, no new stories but little tidbits and factoids about the Harry Potter universe that never made it to the books. I think I’ll check that out, sooner or later.

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