Friday, July 22, 2011

The End of an Era

In the past few days I had the chance to see the final Harry Potter movie... in 3D, no less.

The word bittersweet comes to mind when I think of the end in a series which I really enjoyed watching.

I hated Snape, wished I'd had a leader like Dumbledore, wanted Ron to be good at Quidditch, understood Hermione, and knew that no matter what, Harry would do the right thing for the right reasons.

Being a wizard (or witch in my case) would have been sooo convenient. There have been times in my life where I wish I could use the "Reparo" spell. Of course "Accio TV Remote" would have been cool, or there are so many times I could have used the "Point Spell" which would make a wand into a compass. These spells even worked their way into my everyday conversation. I remember once telling a friend to stop being mean or I would "... get all Avada Kedavra on their ass".

Not bad for a franchise that in the beginning I had poo poo'd.

When I first heard about Harry Potter it was the as "The Philosopher's Stone" came out. I worked in morning radio at an "adult contemporary" station (read women/moms 25-45). It was our job to know the pulse of our listener, and these ladies were talking about a movie their kids had been begging to see. A British flick about some teenager who goes to a school to learn magic.

OK, so how do we "own this" as the jock used to say? Well, we could have a look-alike contest on the opening night. Sure. Who's going to judge it? Um... none of us, we had NO idea what it was even about, let alone what the kid looked like. So we coupled with a local movie theater to give us a party room before the film, found a mom who seemed to know what she was talking about to judge the thing, got the theater to provide a prize package which we sweetened with some other stuff we had lying around. Alright, that's settled... now who should go? Crickets.

Let's send Snooker! Yes ladies and gentlemen, our high-priced talent would not be caught dead darkening such a scene... so they sent the producer who had actually put all the other stuff together, so surely she would be the best choice, right? Yeah, my job was pretty glamorous, haha.

The night of the movie premiere the place was swarming with kids. Out of all of them, there were about 20 who had been creative enough to enter the contest. Some had recycled Halloween vampire costumes and wore a scarf in what I later learned to be Gryffindor-colored stripes. Others had gone all out and found round glasses.

One kid - the winner it turned out - had actually used makeup to make a lightning-shaped scar on this forehead. It didn't matter that he was blond, the judge-mom said that was the best idea, so he was the winner. (I really wish that I still had the pictures I took at these events) The rest of the kids ended up getting tickets and a free popcorn from the theater, they all received radio station bumper stickers... 'cause EVERY kid NEEDS a bumper sticker, you know.

No, sadly I didn't watch the movie that night. I headed home after a super long day of work (morning radio starts before people wake up... ahem... dark thirty, so to speak). I came to regret that decision.

When the second movie came out, I allowed my curiosity to get the best of me and did a Dollar Theater visit. This was the Chamber of Secrets, and not a bad movie at all. OK, I said, I will catch up on the first one, and watch the others as they come out, which I did faithfully.

Once I made it to Germany in 2005 I found myself with lots of time on my hands which lead me to perusing my new wife's book shelf. She had purchased the first Harry Potter and gotten partway through it before coming to the conclusion that she doesn't really enjoy fantasy, and it had been gathering dust on the shelf ever since. I poured through it and hungered for more (like so many others before me). Not having much extra money, and seeing the waiting list after doing some research at the only English library in town, I realized that my options were limited.

I downloaded the 2nd book, yes illegally... no, I don't think JK Rowling will be hurt by it. Pre-Kindle days, books could be read on an Palm device, and I had a nice one. I had been reading Gutenberg-downloaded classics for a while, so it made sense to try. Google search brought me to a few places where I could download all HP books to date as .pdf and view them on my Palm, so that is what I did. One after the other, I read them. Carrying around my Palm and pulling it out whenever I had an extra three minutes... waiting for a train, standing in line, waiting for a movie to start, anywhere, anytime. I even read in bed, the backlight feature allowing me to read all night long if I wanted to, if my nose was cold I read under the covers... just like Harry. Well, I didn't have the cool wand and the "Lumos" spell, but it was a close second.

Of course these .pdf's were usually simply re-typed by some person with more time on their hands than typing talent, so there were errors, but that didn't matter to me. Then there was the time I started reading "The Order of the Phoenix" and quickly realized that the writing quality was nothing like the magic of J.K. Rowling. It turned out to be a work of fan fiction, written by someone with a love of Harry coupled with a creative mind. I eventually read it all because it was rather interesting. Harry developed a love of jogging, really got back at Dudley Dursley in an evil way, and eventually got into Hermine's pants. Whew... that was a wild ride, let me tell you!

Waiting for the last book was the hardest. A friend and I queued at the bookstore for the midnight release. I read the entire book in one weekend, laughed, cried, yelled in frustration, and generally had a lovely time. Poor Sweet No just kind of drifted in and out of my life that weekend, making fun of me as she passed the vacuum cleaner under my feet.

Not to introduce any spoilers, let's just say that the movies were great but the books were still better. Character development was fantastic and the stories felt so believable. J.K. Rowling is rolling in money, and I am happy for her.

I really WANT to find out that there REALLY IS a Hogwart's or something like it, even if I wasn't invited. Am I alone? What about visiting the Harry Potter Theme Park in Orlando? Would you spend your hard-earned money to visit the studio where much of the film series was made?

And what of JK Rowling? There is a 19 year gap to fill, as well as the possibility to write about what happens to the kids of the magical trio. Would she, could she, SHOULD she write more about the adventures of Harry Potter?

Bittersweet indeed. But our ride on the Hogwart's Express has been enjoyable.

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C N Heidelberg said...

I liked the books. I wouldn't say she should write any more, though. I know that doing things like that is kind of common nowadays (movie prequels, video games that come in six billion parts, etc) but it often ends up feeling like a dead horse is being beaten. I think the series would stay sweeter if it stayed as is. :)

Jul said...

I am in such withdrawal now that we've seen the final film and there's no more Potter to look forward to. I need some awesome new books to read to distract me. Unfortunately nothing in my to-read pile is inspiring me. Mope mope mope.

AstroYoga said...

I saw the movie Monday night, I broke out in an awful fever just as the movie started. I was shivering and in pain, but I STAYED the entire movie because .... Well, really, what choice did I have. I spent the next two days in bed. Totally worth it.

Ironically my husband (at the time just a guy I barely knew) gave me the first three books for my birthday one year. I remember thinking, "why is he giving me children's books?". A few months later, after we started dating, I got hit by a car. I was laid up for a while and finally ran out of books! I started the 'children's' books he gave me. I was standing in line a midnight by the time the fourth book came out, completely hooked.

Such an awesome story.

Snooker said...

@ CNHeidelberg - I tend to agree that continuing the series might cheapen it. But at the same time, and for selfish reasons, I would like to see what kind of mother Hermione would be, what will happen to Hogwarts now, who would be headmaster (or mistress).

@ Jul - May I suggest fanfiction? There is a LOT of it out there, and some of it is actually going to be fairly good. Some of these people know the characters as well as JKR, and are able to be more creative because they're not worried about pissing off their base. So stop moping, girl! :)

@ AstroYoga - What a nice gift. Your guy must be a special one. Thanks for dropping by.

Goofball said...

I think I stranded at the 4th book