Friday, November 18, 2005

I'm just wild about Harry ...

It's been a few months now since I finished Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Pretty much instantly after finishing the book I realized that it would be a few years until the final volume came out. 2007 I believe?

I was quickly reminded though that the fourth film had a November release date. Well, ladies and gentlemen, today's the big day!

I have not always been a Hogwarts disciple. My first actual indication that these weren't just books for kids was when a co-worker had a copy of Goblet of Fire on her desk. She worked with kids, and at a bookstore previously, so I didn't think that much of it. When I asked her about the book though she told me it was in fact hers, and that she loved the series.

Soon afterwards I discovered several others were reading the books, then my own wife got hooked. By this time, I'd already seen the first film, which I enjoyed enormously. They still to this day have what I might consider the best casting of any film franshise in all of history. Kenneth Branagh, Robbie Coltrane, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Gary Oldman, Emma Thompson, Richard Harris, Miranda Richardson, Ralph Feinnes ... Ok, I'll stop - you get the picture.

It was in anticipation for the film version of The Prisoner of Azkaban that I began reading the books myself. The first is really nothing more than an appetizer, and the second was like a salad. By the time I got to Azkaban though I felt like I was finally into the meat of this story, and felt that J.K. Rowling had really hit her stride as a writer.

I'm all for anything that encourages reading, and I really like how the books and films have been paced to aid in that. I know a lot of folks that even go back and do refresher-reads as the newest film nears release.

This franchise has it all - books, films, video games, incredible soundtracks, merchandise (can you believe I couldn't even find a t-shirt to buy this last weekend to wear to the premiere as they were all sold out?) and a zealous fanbase that writes their own stories (and not all of it is kid friendly, if you get my drift). The also have one of the best fan-maintained websites I've seen.

I am forgiving of how commercialized this has all sort of become. As much as it might pain my inner commie. Primarily because I feel like the quality hasn't suffered. The books have remained true to where she bagan, and the films honest to the story. And I don't know how in our day and age how you can find much fault with things that inspire children (and adults) to read, to dream, to use their imagination.

After all, who doesn't want to believe in magic?

- David J.

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