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Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More Reviews: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Yes, I've read all of the books and yes, I am anxiously awaiting the seventh and final one. People who have only read the first one or maybe two books always say the same thing: "I read the first one and didn't understand what the hoopla was all about." Well, yeah! If you only read the first book then you are simply reading a cute kid's book. It's basically about a kid who is the hero of a story centering around him, and while it is creative, it's like every other kid's book in that exists to give kids a sense of adventure and hope that they to can overcome obstacles, blah, blah, blah. Feel good blandness. The second books seems to set the precident that the series would be more of the same. You've now got a really interesting well written childrens series. But then J.K. Rowling does something that will forever set it apart from even the most successful children's books. It matures with it's audience. The third book in the series is grittier, more complicated and introduces elements of darkness that the others did not contain. The subject of witches and wizards is considered by many to be inherently dark, but in the firs two books, while they exist in a dark world, are white-washed quite a bit for the reader.

On the fourth book we finallly see the truest and most honest nature of the world of Harry Potter. The times that the characters live in is brought to new hieghts of darkness and realness. It would seem strange that I would use "realness" when describing a movie about witches and magic. When I say realness I'm not talking about reality, I am referring to the idea that, if we suspend our disbelief and really exist in this fantasy, the story seems honest as opposed to a contrived children's story.

Which brings me (finally)to the movie. I am a firm believer that a movie doesn't have to be a strict retelling of the book. In fact, the more a director tries to be "faithful" to a book, the more I believe he is going to fail. Do I think that a director should completely change intent, story line, and other things that were vital to the success of the book. If he's smart he will try to excentuate what made the book a success in the first place, but I believe a filmmaker should try to make the story as visually their own as is possible. Film and books are two separate and completely different in how they get a message across. While books rely on the reader to imagine the words that an author has created, director and filmmakers are more like a painter whose images are supposed to inspire thought and discussion. It can be said that movies and books are opposite mediums.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is 600 plus page book that is made into a movie that, for marketing reasons, has to be under three hours. There is going to be much left out and for continuity other things added. The movie focuses on the triwizard tournament and the love life of the three main characters. The book has many more subplot that aren't even hinted at. Additionally, the Triwizard Tournament in the book is only dealt with occasionally, but it is pretty much the entire movie. Even when we are watching Harry fumble over words as he tries to talk to girls, it is only during breaks from worrying about the Tournament.

But the similarities and differences between the book and the movie are not what are going to make or break a film. This film is based on a book that has already won me over, as well as millions of others, so the story is not really worth mentioning, except to say that I think the filmmakers chose the right things to focus on. The scenery and cinematography in Goblet are by far the most excelled in the series. A low dolly shot near the beginning of the film that comes up on a boot that serves as a portkey to another location is beautiful. As always the British countryside is beyond words and Mike Newell does a better job than either Chris Columbus or even Alfonzo Curan of capturing the beauty and majesty of the land in which Hogwarts resides.

4 bulls (out of 5)

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