October 29, 2011

It's...Magic







Hey all, sorry for the delay. Things have been a bit busy lately. No, nothing is new or out of the ordinary, one of those times were the week isn't long enough, by it through too short days, or not enough days in it.

Anyway, the topic of my post is Harry Potter. Laugh if you want, but please, read this entry before you do so.


What led me to write this post, (I've always wanted to do a post on Harry) was earlier today I watched an A&E / Lifetime film called Magic Beyond Words. It's about J.K. Rowling, author of all seven Harry Potter books (Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, and what I like to think of as the "Horcrux duology", Half-Blood Prince and series finale, Deathly Hallows.) It's un-offical (though the makers must have gotten permission to do it) and un-authorized, and at first glance, a 'money making ploy' etc. Wrong. It was very well done, and shows what she went through and struggled with to get Harry to where he is today. All she wanted to do, and love doing was write

However, this post is not directly about JK Rowling or her life, but what she created. However, I urge you to check out her bio on Wikipedia, or watch Magic Beyond Words, whether you're a Potter fan or not, to see how she struggled. It's on TV (Movie Network is where I caught it) or at the least, Youtube.

As a Harry Potter fan, I feel like it's my duty to tell my story, and how I became a fan. 

Like JK Rowling, my sister had an impact on it. She was in elementary school (I think grades 3-6, I can't remember exactly.). The teacher of her class would read the books out to them, as part of it. Most, if not all, enjoyed hearing the teacher reading them. My sister was quite a fan. And I, I was quite skeptical and scoffed it off. 

Before I continue, I'll dove-tail slightly. This was about 2001, maybe 2000. I was 17, and looking forward to the first of three parts of the Lord of the Rings films. 

Going back to my story, I believed that Harry Potter was "just for little kids". Look at him on that bright cover with a red train & silly clothes...oh, the villain is called "You Know Who"...what? Nah, not for me. 



At my sister's urging though, I checked out the first film. Now, by the time I became interested enough to watch it and judge for my self, it had left theatres but was not on DVD yet. So, I watched it through....other means. And, I quite enjoyed it. Feeling silly (in the sense of not being interested in something, and then liking it afterwards), I asked to read my sister's books, as she had the first four. Now this was 2001, so more books were in the process of being written. So, I read through the books pretty quickly. I remember getting so into it, I read Chamber of Secrets months before the movie came out. And then Prisoner of Azkaban, and finally, Goblet of Fire. I remember being a fan, and actually enjoying the books. In particular, during the last chunk of Prisoner of Azkaban, it's climax. I kept thinking "What is going to happen next??"

Well, needless to say, I considered myself a fan by the time the film version of Chamber of Secrets had come out. I remember, I saw the second part of Lord of the Rings, and the day after, Chamber of Secrets.  It was a good year for blockbuster films that year.

After that, was waiting. Waiting for the next film, or better yet, the fifth book. 



I pre-ordered and got Order of the Phoenix the day it came out in June of 2003. I read it pretty quickly. After that, came the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. Style wise, it was vastly different in look and feel than the first two. The first two appear to be kids movies (like Dahl meets Narnia). But from the third film onwards, these adaptions started becoming quality movies

There was a bit of a longer wait. 2005 saw the book launch of number 6 of 7, Half-Blood Prince, which I also picked up first day (didn't pre-order this time though.) In Nov of that year, Goblet of Fire came out, which was the first Harry Potter film I saw opening night.



One more Harry Potter book to go. And that would be it, the series finale. July of '07 saw the launch of Deathly Hallows, and of course, I got it that first day. Everything must come to an end, and the Harry Potter book franchise did so in the best possible way. Sure, the author has changed a few things as she went (and when writing, when don't things change over various drafts, etc?), the way she wanted. However, not all was not lost. Of course, we could re-read the entire series over and over, there was still the film franchise to end. Since Lord of the Rings ended (in 2003. Well, 2004 for the extended DVD..), and the Potter novels were finished, the films became among my most anticipated films (and since I like orchestrated music, the soundtracks also.) 



Since, perhaps I'm a bit of a perfectionist in terms of collecting things, or I have slight OCD,  I like things to "match". By that, I mean, for instance, I've got all the Wheel of Time novels so far. But, they are all in paperback. I can't have some randomly in paperback or hardcover, that'll just..seem...weird to me. Gotta be all paperback or all hardcover. Now, Earlier I mentioned that my sister had the first four books. Well, they were from a while ago, and she was young, so they weren't in too good shape. Harry Potter books 5, 6, and now 7 were ones that I got myself. But that meant, I myself only owned the last three! So I got the complete series box set of all 7 books, as well as 5, 6 and 7 to 'finish the series off'; even though my sister was no longer a fan. I think, she liked the childhood aspect of it, as she was a fan when she was young, so she liked the Quidditch, and the beans and all the 'innocent' aspects, not the increasing darkness, danger, and complexity of the stories.

Not only did July see the Deathly Hallows book, but we got the Order of the Phoenix film, too. All of the Potter films are good (I find CoS & GoF to be the two weakest overall), Order of the Phoenix was one of the better ones. 



Then, two years after that, the Harry Potter films began to wind down. July of '09 saw the release of Half-Blood Prince. I'm not giving away anything here (in case there's still people who have yet to read / watch the stories), but that installment is more dramatic and about character. Plus it leans in the direction of where things will head for the big finish.



Speaking of big finish, Nov. '10 saw the films begin to end; as it was decided that Deathly Hallows would be split into two films. Many saw that as a way to get...just...a..little...more...money before it's over, but I (and other fans) see it as an artistic way to send Harry off with the respect he deserves. And besides, so much happens in the book, it just wouldn't have worked.




Then finally, after an 8-month wait after Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was the grand film finale, Deathly Hallows: Part 2

However, there's always more to find for Harry Potter. The book fans have other Potter books (but not NOVELS) to check out if you haven't, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and the best of the three, Tales of Beedle the Bard, which is a great companion piece to Deathly Hallows. There's also Pottermore, an interactive website with games, activities, and things to collect, developed by JK Rowling herself (which is still in beta. I was among the first million to gain access.) And, here we are, October of 2011, and in about two weeks, Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (and the entire series in a box set) will be available to buy on DVD & blu-ray. (please note: it seems that after Dec. of this year, all Harry Potter films will go out of print, sort of like what Disney does. But, I'm predicting, this is because in 2012 sometime, a comprehensive, complete box set of all the films will be out on DVD & blu-ray. Plus, in addition to Magic Beyond Words, JK Rowling & Oprah had a great interview together, which I recommend watching.

What I believe made Harry Potter so great, for me, was the possibility that this magic world could exist within our own. The detail, thought & approach Rowling writes and weaves her way through the stories. The characters. The twists and turns. The way we can't put the book down, and speculate what will happen in the next book, when you have about two years to wait for it. There's powerful things, and things we can relate to. Love. Friendship. Mystery. Even death.
The books grow and mature much as Harry himself does. They start off simple and light, as do most childhoods, and gain complexity & depth.
In terms of fandom, and quality of literature, I don't think another series, or book will come along and match it. There have been some other really good fantasy & fiction to come out since, and during, but nothing will ever be able to topple Potter. If it does, it's gotta be pretty bloody good.

The films were great for seeing sequences and characters come to life. And later on, they became pretty good films, too. 

I'm glad I gave Harry a try. You should too. You never know. It's the #1 franchise for a reason.

The books (dates are hardcover, first releases)

Philsopher's Stone (1997)
Chamber of Secrets (1998)
Prisoner of Azkaban (1999) 
Goblet of Fire (2000)
Order of the Phoenix (2003)
Half-Blood Prince (2005)
Deathly Hallows (2007)
Complete Harry Potter Collection (box set) (2007)

The films (dates are year of theatrical release)

Philosopher's Stone (2001)
Chamber of Secrets (2002)
Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Goblet of Fire (2005)
Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Half-Blood Prince (2009)
Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)







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