Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Can You Enjoy The Harry Potter Movie If You've Never Read The Books (or seen the other movies)??

Well, Himself would say a resounding NO!

As with anything involving our family there is a story involved in this.

The day had gone relatively well with a few minor hiccups to my well planned schedule.
The Doctor's surgery was closed due to power cuts (which were over by the time I got there so I was well irritated); the BA flew back in on the first leg of an international rather than a normal domestic flight which meant a few anxious moments in Sydney as she didn't have a passport and was initially not allowed to board! Once she arrived here she had to go through customs and immigration so it was 45 minutes before she came through the doors.
Nevertheless we were on-time for her netball match where she once again performed well; her team victorious: 48-30.

After a nice visit with Kindergarten Friend's mum who is the most remarkable, sprightly 85 year old I know, we arrived back home minutes before Himself and Small Boy returned from the football, all within the prescribed time frame in order to get to the 6.10pm session of Harry. There was only one small fly in the ointment whom I shall call 'Two Doors' (as in; Two Doors Down), Small Boy's bosom buddy from down the road. He'd been to the football with 'the boys' as he frequently does and bounced back in to plonk himself down in front of the X-Box immediately.

"Two Doors," I called from the kitchen,"You have to go home now because we're going out."
His eyes never left the screen. "Ummm, I don't think my mum's home."
"What do you mean your mum's not home?" my head shot around the corner, looking somewhat accusingly at Himself who was all wide eyed and innocent. Hadn't he checked this out before he took the lad with him?????
"Well, the house was all dark when we came past," Two Doors continued, still playing X-Box for all he was worth.
"Well Two Doors," I shrilled,"Hadn't you better go down and check because we're going out in about 10 minutes??!!!"

As ever, he was unperturbed and cheerfully agreed to go and see where she was. Well, she wasn't. There, I mean. Nope. House locked up and in darkness as it was now nearly 6 o'clock.
"Don't worry," he chirruped, "I'll ring her."

No reply on her mobile.

At this point I was starting to steam. Obviously Himself had not communicated to her that we were going out because no-one goes out while their kid is out and doesn't come home and doesn't let him know where she is, right? He called Grandma. Grandma didn't know where Mum was either but she agreed to come over and pick him up.

"I'll just wait outside our house for you Grandma," Two Doors announced to her and hung up. He is nothing if not stoic.

Well of course, there was no way I was leaving the kid waiting outside his house in the dark for his Grandma who might take 15-20minutes to arrive. We all drove down and sat outside his house in the car with the engine running and the clock ticking on the session commencement time. Eventually I said to Himself, "You take the kids down and get popcorn etc and I'll wait with him and catch up in my car when his Grandma gets here."

I thought this was a perfectly reasonable compromise. Had I been driving and Himself in the passenger seat, I may have suggested Himself wait whilst I drove but that was not the situation and so I suggested what I thought to be the best option. For some reason this did not meet with Himself's approval; he was insistent that we should all wait whilst I felt that it was a shame if the kids missed out on the first part of the movie. When I asked why he wasn't keen on my suggestion he rolled his eyes and said that it was 'all too hard'. I'm not very good at seeing the other side of a situation if it hasn't been explained to me so I became quite frustrated by this recalcitrant attitude. As the minutes ticked by and the session time clicked over I announced that they should get going, emphasising the point by getting out of the car with Two Doors. Himself wouldn't take the tickets so I gave them to the BA and proceeded up the darkened drive as Himself, realising that I meant it, took off in a less than pleasant temper.

So here is the scenario: Himself, who had not wanted to attend a Harry Potter movie (he's more of a Jean-Claude Van Damme man) is now alone with the kids, a situation with which he is never comfortable, on his way to Marion, a venue he loathes. Hmmmmm. This was not going well. I had intended, until the mix-up with Two Doors, to 'fill him in' on the Harry Potter plot on the way to the cinema but naturally, this didn't happen. As a result, by the time I had delivered Two Doors to his apologetic grandmother (less than 10 minutes later fortunately) and caught up with the family, Himself was seated in the theatre with Small Boy, a face like thunder and absolutely no idea what the story of Harry Potter was all about. The previews were just about over and there was no time to redress the plot deficit so the BA and I sat back to make the best of it.

Now, let me just say here that I was so proud of my girl. She was duly upset by Himself's bad humour but calmly organised him and took the responsibility for queuing for popcorn while the boys found their seats. She was prepared to miss out herself to ensure Small Boy had his dad with him and saw the beginning of the movie. As it turned out we all saw the beginning of the movie so all was well but I was just really impressed by the mature way she dealt with things. On the other hand I was a little annoyed that she had to deal with them. A little case of 'who's the adult here...?' :-(

Because we arrived later, I was about as far away from Himself as you can be in a group of four seats and so I did not even have the opportunity to fill him in as the film progressed. Consequently, as the lights went up at the end, his first words to all of us were that it was 'the worst movie he'd ever seen, it made no sense at all, had no plot, no recognisable good and bad guys and was basically a lot of pretty pictures!'

Unfortunately he would not let it go at that and was incensed that he'd had to sit for nearly 3 hours trying to make sense of something so ridiculous! I suggested that it was 'just nice for us all to be out together' with the type of eyebrow raising and eye rolling that was meant to communicate: 'keep your opinions to yourself and let the kids enjoy the experience' but it was clear he didn't really 'get' what I was on about.

Back at home I managed to get him alone on the balcony and explain how his reactions impacted on those around him.
"When you get angry like that the kids feel uncomfortable."
"But they know I'm not angry with them!" he protested.
"No, that's the point, they don't! They feel responsible and it spoils their night."
He was taken aback by this and, to his credit, later apologised to them for being 'grumpy' but we did not come to any agreement on the quality of the Harry Potter film.

I thoroughly enjoyed it although I could see why he didn't. I do maintain however that you could make more sense of it than he chose to. I mean, Draco was obviously a bad guy, as were the dudes who kept turning into black smoke and who torched The Warren (that wasn't in the book was it?). But it was full of riddles and I can understand why that would be frustrating if you were just coming into the story.

Himself's point was that in the first films which he had seen, there was a discernible 'plot' which went 'over' the back story. Even if you didn't know all the history, the spider plot, the Azkabhan escapee or the hidden Philosopher's Stone had enough to keep you entertained whereas this did not. To some degree I think he is right but I think that it's the nature of the beast. The closer we get to the all out battle between Voldemort and the powers of good, the more the plot centres on the mystery of Harry himself.

So what did I think of the film? Well I liked Slughorn (Jim Broadbent is always terrific) and the emerging relationships between the main characters. I always love Snape, and knowing what I now know about his motivation adds a whole new dimension to his role. In a way I felt this film condensed things a lot more than some of the previous ones did but I will need to go back and read the book again to confirm that. Obviously the main points were all there.

So what do you think? Do you think the film assumed to much prior knowledge? If so, is it inevitable or should they have been trying to make a 'stand-alone' film? And finally, do you think I should ever bother getting Himself to accompany us to the pictures again?

I am open to all points of view here. Don't be shy! Tell me what you think!


headbang8 said...

If it has Jim Broadbent in it, I'm sold.

we_be_toys said...

Personally, I think this entire series of films, while accessible to those heretics who haven't read the books, do have greater depth for those who have. It was a dark film, because it was a dark book. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and thought Rickman's Snape had even more resonance that ever (I did go back and reread both 6 and 7 right before this, by the by). I did not understand the point of the scene where the Death Eaters come and burn the Weasley's house, but I liked Slughorn far more than I expected to (thank you Jim Broadbent!), and I understood why Harry wasn't stunned under the cloak when Snape came up to finish Dumbledore (that was for the unread heretics, so they could keep up!). We went and saw the first midnight release of this and it had to be the best movie experience ever! The theatre sold 1700 tickets for that night's show and there wasn't a peep heard in the theatre during the film (which is rare indeed in this part of the world - sigh).
I have to say, if you (the collective you) haven't read this series, why the hell not? Rowling's wonderful books are responsible for millions of kids choosing to read for fun, and frankly, I've read all of them at least 4 times, and I never tire of revisiting them. Think of how lovely it would be, if families turned off the TV and read a book outloud together.

Laine Moore said...

I actually stopped reading the books so that I could enjoy the movies. I read the first few books then saw the first movie and all I could see were the problems with it. So I stopped reading and began watching and have loved all the movies since. This one was the worst so far though. However, it's a connecting movie, and for a series of movies THIS LONG I can understand. Probably a poor choice to watch it un-prepped but how were you to know, when most of the other movies could almost be "stand-alone?"

I thought the characters were perhaps too subtle for those of us who haven't read the books. And I completely agree with Himself, you couldn't tell who was good and bad. Of course the black smoke people were bad, but other than that, it was hard to see how evil Malfoy was, was Snape evil in this one, etc.

I feel like it HINTED at the character's moral subtleties but didn't delve enough.

susiej said...

Maybe,,, it is harder to enjoy the movie, if you have read the book -- because the book is deeper... you know?

Suzer said...

So what are you saying; they never grow up?

Arizaphale said...

HB8: Insufficient answer for one of your literary and artistic capabilities. Where do you stand on HP?

We Be Toys: I pretty much agree with everything you say but you haven't told me whether you think they have condensed this book too much. Are there essential plot points missed?

Laine: But isn't the subtlety of the characters a good thing? You're left wondering and primed for the next movie wouldn't you say? Or is that what annoyed you? I thought Bellatrix and Fenhir were obviously bad even to the un-Pottered so was it the fact that we didn't 'see' the dark Lord which bugged people?

SusieJ: Having left a bit of a gap between reading and watching meant I thoroughly enjoyed the film and it has encouraged me to go back and the read the book again. No question that the book is deeper though.

Suzer: Are you talking about the characters or men, specifically Himself?

Stacy said...

We haven't read the books yet, but have enjoyed the movies. I think we have 4 books purchased and need to get on the rest of them before they go out of print. My intent has always been to read them with the kids when they get a bit older. Who knows if that will come to fruition, but I can hope. :)

A Free Man said...

I think that this is an elaborate explanation of your inherent inability to arrive anywhere on time...