They just don’t get it, do they?
They think that they’re exploiting a fad. They’ve taken a fun adventure story about magic and wizardry, and make millions by translating it to the big screen. They think these books hit a zeitgeist, and that the creative and often funny world of Hogwarts is simply a matter of CGI effects and epic punch lines.
These foolish, foolish men. They understand nothing.
Harry Potter was a classic from the moment it was published. My mother, who is a raving Anglophile, gave me a copy of Philosopher’s Stone for Christmas when I was 17, saying “they’re very popular in England.” I love children’s fiction, so I wasn’t as offended as some 17 year olds might have been at being given a book that was clearly marketed for the under 12 set. I gobbled that book in a day, and then bored my friends at school by raving about it. They didn’t get it. So the kid’s a wizard. That’s nice.
…then Pottermania hit Canada, and suddenly all my friends were on a first-name basis with characters that I had known and loved for several years. It was amazing and delightful.
Why do my friends, who have no interest in Dahl or Lewis or Cleary or Pullman or any of the other children’s books that I breathe like air, love this particular set of books?
The answer is because they are amazing. These movie producers think it’s because of Quidditch and Every Flavour Beans, and maybe it is, a little. But Harry Potter was an instant classic because it is filled with those timeless themes of human existence – love, sacrifice, mistaken first impressions, the contrariness of human personality, and finally… triumph over those who would hurt us.
Watching Half Blood Prince last night, I got the distinct feeling that the people who wrote the screenplay and directed the film had asked some English majors “What are the themes of Harry Potter? What is the heart and soul of the story? Of all the story lines in this book, which are the most vital to the meaning of the book?” and when they had their answer, they said “Okay. That’s what we’ll cut out.”
If they had done it by design, they could not have been more successful at cutting out the heart of the story, and leaving a hollow, empty shell.
The themes of Harry Potter are simple (Spoilers coming):