Monday, June 3, 2013

on potter.

i’ve just finished a self-induced journey.  one that took me across the pond and into the realms of a world previously unknown to me.  i’ve journeyed to hogwarts and back in the last couple months, and i’m ready to dish.

first, some background.  i’m a freaking geek.  everyone who knows me is aware of that fact.  i have read and watched tolkien so many times i can recite it.  i love sci-fi/fantasy so much that i’m teaching a freaking class on it.  yet, somehow, harry potter was always just off my radar.  i knew the gist, and it seemed right up my alley, but there was always some other book, movie, or series that took precedence. 

until now.

after collecting bits and pieces and threads of info about the whole series for years, i decided to become a pureblood by reading and watching all of the potters.

here, in fragmented, piece-meal bullets, are my thoughts on the experience:
  • i didn’t expect so much allegory.  there’s a definite WWII/hitler/nazi thread here that just needs a bit more pulling.  voldemort and his deatheaters hate muggle-borns/mudbloods (i.e. wizards/witches born of two muggles) and aren’t too fond of halfbloods (i.e. wizards/witches with one wizard/witch parent and one muggle parent).  they want mudbloods removed from wizarding society so as to keep the race pure.  they put out propaganda on the dangers of mixed society.  they hold rigged trials to convict and intern them in prison.  mudbloods must register their existence with the ministry of magic.  many flee the country or are taken in by bloodtraitors (i.e. wizarding families who are sympathetic to their plight). sound familiar?  it really works in the texts, though, as it’s not heavy-handed or blatant.
  • snape is an amazing, truly well-written character.  i knew the character’s endgame going into the text, but i couldn’t help hating him along the way.  there is something so deeply sinister about his character that makes his revelation at the end that much more painful and breathtaking. i wonder how shocked i might have been if i didn’t know the truth of the character the whole way through.  i should probably ask someone about this…
  • alan rickman was made to play snape.  perfect.
  • hermione, like √©owyn from LOTR, is bad ass.  i wasn’t a huge hermione fan until the last book.  in books 1-6 she seemed undernourished as a character—always on the periphery, there to swoop in in some dues ex machina device.  only in book 7 did she really develop as a character for me as i began to see her stake in everything: a mudblood forced to cast a spell on her parents for their own protection, 100% dedicated to the fight against voldemort regardless of its costs. 
  • rowling hit adolescence on the nose in these texts.  everything you expect from a group of teenagers is present, but it is all contained by the overwhelming struggle they find themselves in the midst of.  they have all the problems of a typical teen drama, but these issues are set against a backdrop of immense evil and a rapidly changing world, thereby minimizing their importance.  the characters are forced to think beyond just themselves for a good portion of the series.  a series about teenagers that isn’t super angsty: well played, rowling. well played.
  • sweet neville gets his moment in the sun.  and it is beautiful.
  • the most important horcrux twist was amazing.  as was the inclusion of the deathly hallows instruments.  just when i was beginning to question how rowling was going to bring everything together in the end, it happened and worked amazingly well.
  • house-elves rock
  • the films, especially the last five, are really well made and reflective of the texts.  the first two are very, very childish, but that seems appropriate given the age of the characters in them. 
  • poor lupin and tonks!  but at least their orphaned child, the mirror of harry himself, will be surrounded by a community that loves and protects hims.
  • harry finally gets some peace and the family he has always longed for.  i'm not usually a sucker for a happy ending--i much prefer it when things are allowed to end badly--but this series needed a bit of peace for its principle character.  harry suffers so much throughout the texts and is intensely lonely for a good part of them.  i was actually glad to see it end well.

overall, i can now say that i am spellbound by harry potter {terrible pun intended}.  this series is yet another badge to add to my nerd-scouts vest.

and finally, in case anyone cares, here’s how i rank the books and movies from favorite to least:

fave: 7 - deathly hallows
5 - order of the phoenix
6 - half-blood prince
4 - goblet of fire
3 - prisoner of azkaban
2 - chamber of secrets
least fave: 1 - sorcerer's stone (or the much better named british version, philosopher's stone)

fave: 7.1 - deathly hallows, pt 1
7.2 - deathly hallows, pt 2
5 - order of the phoenix
6 - half-blood prince
4 - goblet of fire
3 - prisoner of azkaban
2 - chamber of secrets
least fave: 1 - sorcerer's stone