[Slight spoilers, just so you know…]
Just saw what seems to me the best Harry Potter movie so far. Was reading in Entertainment Weekly some hubbub about whether the HP franchise still captures attention in light of the edgier appeal of Twilight and such.
Here’s the thing, Twilight rocks. I love it for some of the same reasons as HP and some very different ones. But it’s not been around as long as Harry has, so it hasn’t had the chance to grab us quite the same way, quite as pervasively. Not yet. N said she hoped there wasn’t a new New Moon trailer for HP because she couldn’t deal with the “Beatlemania,” and that’s just it. I’m not saying Twilight is going anywhere (I don’t think it is, and I don’t want it to) and the hysteria is quite livid, but.
But it’s not Harry Potter. I was 17 in 1999, when I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at the recommendation of someone in the Library Club (where I met J, who remains my friend to this day, though he thought I didn’t like him when we first met). They’d already been around in the U.S. for two years and I’d heard about them, but was reluctant to jump on the bandwagon – which seems funny now because compared to how many people would eventually get on the bandwagon, it was nothing in 1999. I was a lonely student who had transferred halfway through high school and I could identify with orphaned Harry Potter and I found it impossible not to get sucked in. I quickly read Chamber and Prisoner, the only books that were out when I started reading. For a long time, HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban was my favorite.
I would eventually turn many people on to Harry Potter, including Mamma Mia! and one of my ex-boyfriends, who was hooked after I read the first chapter to him in the car on the way to a movie. I couldn’t wait till a friend of mine’s son was old enough to be introduced to Harry Potter. Until I could read them to my own children, watch them discover that world for the first time and, in some way, recapture my first time experiencing the world that JK Rowling has given us over the years.
Over the years. That’s an important bit. I’m 27 now. It’s been ten years. A decade. Which isn’t a lot of time in many scopes, but in terms of a “fad” or “craze,” it’s an eternity. So, perhaps, we can say finally that Harry Potter is no fad, no craze. Many of us have grown up with Harry Potter – I imagine the children who were 10 (or younger) when they first read the books, who are twice that now. Half of their life has been influenced by a fictional character in a time when it’s been predicted that every generation will read less and less and seem to forget they have imaginations to use, or even more horribly, sometimes seem not to even have imaginations to use. And I always remember the father who told me, while I was working a HP event at Barnes and Noble, that his 7-year-old son had been behind his reading level, struggling with simple chapter books, then he discovered Harry Potter and finished Goblet in less than a week. That book is 734 pages long. And a 7-year-old boy who’d had trouble reading had finished it in a week. That boy would probably be around 16 or 17 now, the age I was when I began reading. How could he fail to be sentimental or nostalgic about Harry Potter?
I missed out on a midnight showing, but I woke up early to make it for the 10 a.m. at my neighborhood theater. There were some children in the audience, at least two toddlers (who made noises throughout the movie), but by the end of the two and a half hour movie, the entire audience was collectively and completely silent. I’ve rarely experienced that in a movie, where it was clear that we were so wrung out from the emotions we’d experienced and we so needed time to take it in that there was just no way to speak, nothing to say.
Of course I cried. [SPOILERS] An important character died, one who is evocative and beloved by many, but by me, too. And there were two fires at important, cherished dwellings. And much destruction of Hogwarts. That was hard to take, after everything else.
But in its own way, it was satisfying and cathartic, despite the sadness (if that makes sense and I hope it does). I wouldn’t want it any other way because, having read the end of the story, I know that this is the way it’s supposed to be.
I’m going to go re-read the books. I can’t help it. And I don’t want to help it. 🙂