Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter: He is risen!

The last forty minutes of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2”, in 3D Imax, indeed make for pretty compelling epic filmmaking, nodding not only to the Toiken Ring cycle, but even “Inception”, British style. And the idea of playing with the afterlife – how you can go there and come back to tell about it – is presented, with J.K. Rowling’s theology.  I have to say I have thought about some of the same ideas myself, as I noted in my last post on this series.

Harry has grown from tweenhood to young manhood, morphing from a geeky boy (who likes chess) to a superhero, even if a bit shorter than Clark Kent.   Daniel Radcliffe was 21 when the film was shot, and there is an early English beach scene where he changes shirts, and shows off his chest hair, known from stage appearances, and trim body. Rupert Grint, as his best friend Ron, does not fare so well in that scene, with love handles and a little soft paunch; he needs to go on a fitness program, and he is only 22. (My own father, however moralizing, used to make remarks about people like this: “pot belly, no ambition”.)   And in the Epilogue, where “all is well”, 19 years later, Harry has his own wizardly kids, as does Ron, who looks just fat, whereas Harry, supposedly 40 now, could still pass for 28 and looks trim.  The “Ron” character needs to remain a good, physically fit role model for young people just as Harry does.

The Epilogue introduces some of the film’s most stirring music, supposedly by Desplat (“The Tree of Life”); but the actual music that concludes the film before the credits start sounds like the brazen, postromantic  close of William Alwyn’s Fourth Symphony in B-flat. It would have served William and Kate well at the wedding.  That is one thing about English music: it can be very loud and virile. The AMC Tyson’s audience (in the 3-D, Imax auditorium) applauded as if at a concert.

The “afterlife” scene takes place in London fog, supposedly at King’s Cross, without trains; Harry goes without glasses and looks a little younger, but the photography remains just slightly vague.

The Wikipedia articles on the novels explain how horcruxes work. But by now most visitors know that just before the film’s climax Harry overhears a conversation in which he learns that he is a horcrux for Lord Voldermort (Ralph Fiennes – and by the way, Warner Brothers uses this infamous villain as part of its opening trademark – an unusual idea for trademark law).  My own novel explores the idea that people can have other people’s souls – but not “parts of them”, as in this novel and movie. (I worked out my own ideas, not yet made public, without reading any of the HP books.)   But the whole concept is intriguing, as it delves into basic questions about consciousness – “what makes me into me”.  And does that identity remain intact after “death” and could I (or anyone) conceivably return?

One of my favorite lines occurs early, "Wands choose their wizards."  Quite existential!

The film is directed by David Yates and was produced by Heyday Films. Here is WB's official site.

Warner Brothers offers this YouTube embed:

Will grad students do PhD's in English Literature by focusing on J.K. Rowling? Don't go back to the classics.

Update: July 17, 2015

Visited Diagon Alley myself in Florida, rode the Hogwarts Express. 

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