“Harry Potter! Harry Potter! Harry Potter!”
In case you’ve been living on Mars and just returned to earth, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, is about to be launched on November 19th. The film, adapted from the last book in the series by J. K. Rowling, is about Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione searching for Lord Voldemort’s Horcruxes, which are the secret to his possible immortality..
What’s so great about this film and the previous movies, is that not only are kids of all ages and both genders, scarcely able to restrain their excitement, but adults, myself included, can also barely contain our ecstasy.
Having my wife read each of Rowling’s seven books out loud to our youngest son was always magical. It just so happens that our son’s chronological age almost matches the students at Hogwarts year after year. He is now almost 18, just like the characters in the book and films and has read some of the books 2 or 3 times.
Our first reaction to hearing about any of the books being displayed on the silver screen was “Oh no! They’ll ruin it! How could the reality of a movie ever compare to the ones the author has created in our minds?” Everyone who has read the stories had there own idea of how each character sounded and acted. How could anyone give justice to Harry Potter? How could anyone match a million different personal images and visions?
After the initial shock wore off, we began to realize that the movies could be enjoyed for itself, separate from the books.The directors and screenwriters didn’t have to follow Rowling’s words exactly as they were written. She said herself that a movie is a movie, a different medium and one shouldn’t expect it to be like a book.
The first good news, after hearing about the movie versions, was that the author insisted the actors be less known English children. Which worked wonderfully, even though they are now known around the world. The second was that they were going to take as much time as needed to produce the films. If the last films in the series are as good as the previous ones, then the wait and hype will have been well worth the apprehension.
What is it about this boy with a lightening scar on his forehead that has kids and adults panting like sheepdogs to see the film? Here are a few of the time-tested ingredients.
1. Place what appears to be an ordinary boy in unbelievable circumstances. Have him raised in a home where he is hated, then adopted by a family of wizards, with children his age, who love and adore him.
2. Make him someone special, like the only person to ever survive an attack by “he who must not be named”.
3. Throw in all the dynamics, frustrations and complications of being an adolescent and teen.
4. Mix it up with the English school system run by benevolent and terrifying wizards and witches.
5. Add a game called Quidditch that is a cross between soccer and hockey played on broomsticks.
6. Provide some intriguing, funny and/or frightening monsters, dragons and ghosts.
7. Write amazingly sharp and witty vocabulary and dialogue.
8. Make it accessible and understandable for all ages.
9. Top it all off with good versus evil.
10. Voila, you have the adventures of Harry Potter.
Now, if you see a strange family with lightening bolts painted on their foreheads and wands in their hands camped out in front of the theater at midnight on Nov. 19th, you’ll know it’s just another bunch of those crazy Potter fans trying to get in ahead of the crowd and I’ll probably be one of them.
P.S. Emma Watson (plays Hermione): If you happen to read this, will you please get in touch with our son Shona and ask him out on a date. He talks about you all the time and is willing to travel to Rhode Island and meet you at any time. He’s only a few years younger than you, has your picture on his wall and thinks of applying to Brown just to meet you before you graduate. Contact me directly and I’ll pass on your invitation.