We took a short break last week from the scorching oven that is North Central Texas and traveled to cool, crisp, clean Colorado – where it was only 93 degrees instead of 104. Nice, refreshing respite. Michael had a meeting in Aspen (where everything and everyone are beautiful and very, very expensive), so we spent a few days there, then drove over to Denver to see some family and precious friends.
We left Texas for Colorado on Friday morning, July 15. On Thursday, July 14, Meghan returned from church camp, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 premiered at midnight. As you may recall, Meghan and I went to the midnight premiere of Part 1 last fall – on a school night – and we shared the kind of mother-daughter bonding that only comes with doing something a little crazy.
Now that Part 2 finally rolled out, I was so anxious to see it. I reread The Deathly Hallows in the weeks leading up to the premiere, and I so wanted to take Meghan again.
Except that we had to leave for the airport at 8 a.m. on Friday morning, and Michael forbid me to go. Midnight premiere = lost sleep = grumpy mama. And I’m not allowed to be grumpy on vacation. So I couldn’t go.
Meghan, who had just returned from camp (and if you’ve ever been to youth camp, you know just how little sleep these kids get), convinced us to let her go to the midnight movie with her friend, Jenna, and Jenna’s dad…with a promise not to complain about her exhaustion the next day. She left around 10 p.m., tiptoed in about 3:30, and was up at 7:45 for our flight to cool, crisp Colorado.
She said it was the best movie she’d ever seen, and by far the best of the Harry Potter series.
About two years ago, I finished reading the series (for the first time), then I got my geeky little hands on some literary analysis. (I wrote about it here.) These stories are rich, and JK Rowling is a genius. She builds layers upon layers of truth into these stories – children’s stories at first glance, but look closely and you’ll find symbolism, word play, and profound commentaries on good vs. evil, social prejudices, social injustice, love’s victory over death, sacrificial love and resurrection…it’s pretty amazing. (Click on the link above and read more about this. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)
So, like I said, I reread the last book before the final movie premiered, and I began another literary analysis book. I got a little obsessive. I tend to do that when I get really excited about something. It’s kinda scary how consumed I become. (I’m still trying to wrap my brain around literary alchemy.) But when I recognize Truth – especially within art – I want to know more. So I read and ponder and ponder and read and hope that the laundry does itself.
So finally, last Friday, eight days after the premiere, two days after returning home from vacation, Griffin and I went together to a matinee. I was pumped. I couldn’t wait to see this rich, true, enlightening story unfold on the big screen.
And, of course, I was disappointed.
Just a little bit. It was a great movie, and thankfully the screenwriters and the director stayed (somewhat) true to the book. But having just reread the book and studied the detail, and having been so energized by the layers of symbolism and themes and significance, I was disappointed when many of those details were overlooked in the film.
For you fellow literary geeks, below is a list of my disappointments. If you haven’t read the books, 1) shame on you! Get thee to a library! And 2) You can stop here. I’ll see you next week.
If you’ve read the books, feel free to continue reading my ramblings…
Disappointment #1: Emotional restraint.
Three scenes in particular:
First, in the book, Neville emerges through Ariana’s portrait, and he shouts with “a roar of delight, leapt down from the mantlepiece, and yelled, ‘I knew you’d come! I knew it, Harry!…Kept telling Seamus it was a matter of time!’ ” John Granger, in his book, The Deathly Hallows Lectures, notes that Neville reflects the followers of Christ, awaiting the return of the Messiah. Neville knew Harry, their “savior,” would return to them, and when Harry did, Neville couldn’t contain his joy. In the movie, Neville might as well have said simply, “Yo. Harry. Good to see ya.” As if Harry had been gone for a short holiday in Hogsmead.
Second, in the book, when Harry enters the Forbidden Forest with the Resurrection Stone, and his parents appear with Sirius and Lupin…holy crap, when I read that, I was sobbing. James tells him, “we are so proud of you.” Being a 37 year old who still longs for her parents’ approval, that one line slayed me. Sitting in the theater watching the film, I kept waiting for that line, hoping, waiting, tissue in hand…and he never said it. He never said it! So disappointing.
Third, at the end of the movie when everyone is together again in the Great Hall, they’re all just sitting around shooting the breeze. In the book, it was a par-tay. The room “blazed with life and light,” filled with “outpourings of jubilation and mourning, of grief and celebration.” If I were the director, that scene would have been brighter and louder. But I wasn’t. So we get gray tones and chit-chat following the defeat of evil personified. Go figure.
Disappointment #2: Major themes overlooked
In the book, after Harry sacrifices himself to save his friends (as his mother had done for him), Voldemort’s spells don’t stick because Harry’s sacrificial love covered them – just like his mother’s love protected him. (SEE? I told you. Hugely symbolic, beautifully thematic.) The movie completely overlooked that. That one theme brought the story full circle, and I couldn’t believe the screenwriters skipped over it.
The movie also ignored the entire story of Ariana, which explains so much about Dumbledore and gives huge insight into his character.
The frames explaining how Dumbledore destroyed the ring and caught the curse in his hand happened so fast that if you blinked, you’d miss it.
And what about the Phoenix wand? In the book, Harry repairs it with the Elder Wand. So did the screenwriters assume Harry would use slimy Malfoy’s wand for the rest of his life? I would have liked to see the scene where the trio goes to the headmaster’s office and Harry talks with Dumbledore’s portrait, then repairs his wand. Another moving scene overlooked.
Other than that, I enjoyed the movie. Really. But a movie rarely never lives up to the book, which is why the diploma on my wall says “English” and not “Film.”
Now please excuse me. I must Apparate to my bedroom and delve into Ron and Hermione as sulphur and mercury working against each other and together to produce the purified Philosopher’s Stone…