Saturday, May 28, 2011

Re-reading Harry Potter

I'm on the train at the moment with HP and The Order of the Phoenix in my bag. Sadly, in oh so many ways, that book is as thick as ... oh I dunno - maybe six Gutenberg bibles? not to mention the fact that it's the hardback kiddie edition. I.e. it's conspicuous as hell and I'm too embarrassed to take it out on a packed train.  With the ease built into this Blogger phone app I could take a photo of its massiveness, but due to the above I won't.

I went on this Harry P kick after we watched the last film again not long ago. Of all the films it's my favourite. They manage to convey a feeling of bleakness and realism that lifts the story to a better level. All good science-fiction and fantasy should, ironically, be realistic. I'll get back to that when I write my Tolkien post someday THIS YEAR - see how I've committed myself now? I read that part two of The Deathly Hallows is going to me more spectacular though, all effects and 3-bloody-D I suspect. How utterly boring, predictable and disappointing.

My very favourite part of the film is the telling of the story of the three brothers, done as a sort of shadow puppet show. When I was little we saw a lot of high-quality children's programmes of that type on tv, since Swedish television bought in bulk from Eastern Europe. I've always been a real sucker for miniatures, stop-start animation and the like. There's an unbeatable dreamy quality to them. That animated sequence to me really made the whole film, and Emma Watson reads it beautifully. In fact it was much better than I remembered in the book, where the story made no impression on me that I could recall. Hence - re-reading. I started with The Deathly Hallows and am working my way backwards.

I used to diss Rowling as a writer, but I'm more sympathetic to her now. I can appreciate what she's trying to achieve. Nonetheless it's more than a little frustrating to think how great the books could be if they'd been edited to be a bit sparser, with less repetition and monotonous shouting. However, this is the adult me thinking. She never really wrote for me, but for a bunch of kids who didn't want it to ever end and at that age you positively revel in repetition and one-liners.

Aw shite, the bus is packed too. With school kids which would make the reading the book doubly awkward ... How they'd stare!

Much more than last time I found TDH very moving. I bawled my eyes out frankly. A lot of that is the more poignant feel of the film affecting the reading experience though. To my taste the books are too explicit and detailed to allow me as reader to be stricken by the emotions the writer wishes to convey. Less is more - but again, it's for kids and they need things spelled out. Hell, I'm risking a read now. I'll never meet any of these people again (I usually take the earlier bus).

Right, final instalment of the post now, at home in the comfort of my own living-room, and after several days and re-reading accomplished all the way back to book 3, The Prisoner of Azkaban. Book 1 and 2 are somewhere else .... no-one knows where so they won't be read.

Been pondering the writing style a lot. Plenty of people have written more about that elsewhere I'm sure, about how the books grew in complexity and maturity just as the readers grew up with them. I find myself liking the early child-style ones. I think by the time the books had turned into bricks with more adult issues inside Rowling was so famous that they didn't dare tell her to edit or re-write. Pity! However, am consumed with sudden envy, madly jealous of those kids who grew up with this series. Imagine being part of this international community longing for and reading and discussing the books as they came along! And then, all together, savouring the last one. I'm always too late for stuff like this! Also have been pondering how the films must have influenced how people read the books. The imagery, the actors. How they've grown up with the books just like the readers or audience.

Noticed that I've clearly never seen HP and the Half-Blood Prince - odd that I've missed that one! Had no visual memories of any of the things happening in that story.  (My eldest daughter is a fan, you see, so I've had no choice but to see them.) I'll have to rectify that oversight.

I think Rowling has fantastic imagination, but can't always live up to it in writing. But I'd like to see her write something new. I'd like to see if she's developing. Re-reading the books I see so much promise, and I totally understand why the series became such a hit.


DIY Technician said... says-I really like the films. I have yet to read one of the books. Are they way better than the movies?

bani said...

They are better than some of the films - the first one isn't terribly good, as films go, but alright for kids. Sometimes the films get it right, they can be more succinct whereas Rowling goes on and on a bit. You should give them a go, definitely! The first ones are so easy, just for children, so it's not even hard work. ;)