Sunday, 19 August 2007

Harry Potter

I feel I sort of know JK Rowling as my friend Bridget went to Exeter University, but a few years before JK, so I know someone who nearly knew JK Rowling, as Sweet Irene puts it.

On holiday once we also went to Christ Church College, Oxford where they film some of it, but weren't allowed in, but peered in through the window at the great staircase they use in the films, until chased off by one of the college wardens.

Today we went to see 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix', and we took Jack's friend Ross. I notice that the staircase still features, but digitally remastered so that it goes on and on.

Sad to say, I think that JK is spinning it out rather as the plot is labyrinthine and complex, with more twists and turns than the fabled bull-like beast himself had to face. It is so complex that as usual I had to ask my kids what was going on. I think complex plots are a bad sign, perhaps that JK has run out of ideas.

Of course, a few years ago, when the whole Harry Potter phenomenon came into being we all thought it was great. The first book is the only children's novel I have read through to my son, a chapter a night, and which we never abandoned in the attempt. All the spin-offs were great fun, we had loads of little round Harry Potter specs (Eleanor got some real round ones, but pink), Harry Potter coins, games, dolls and I've just noticed that we've still got a Harry Potter water bottle at the back of the cupboard. Lots of broomstick action occurred, with little would-be Harrys flying around the garden with anything to hand, mops, sticks and once they even wanted to use those broomstick-like fire beaters that you sometimes see left out in forests in case there is a forest fire. Indeed, at the time, I must have had broomsticks on the brain because (another eg. of my faux pas)once at a toddler group I was going to help sweep up the debris and said to the leader 'Have you got a broomstick I could use, please?' Actually, this isn't too bad as at least I am putting myself down too.

We got some proper broomsticks when we bought the dressing-up gear, which means that we are now never short of outfits at Halloween, when my kids go trick or treating, as they all do round here. A great American custom which has cuaght on here, and which everyone takes in the right spirit.

I think the secret of the Harry Potter phenomenon is the great central idea of Hogworts, the magic academy, which is a whole new imaginary world which JK can elaborate on to her heart's content, partially based on Exeter University, I suspect. If it is magic then anything can happen. Then she can have flying, talking telegrams, games of quidditch where people go flying through the air and people walking through walls at stations. I think one of the stations they used was on the North York Moors, and we've been there too.


Rima said...

Except for the first movie, I've been disappointed by all the Harry Potters onscreen. BUT, but, but...

I Looooove the books, I really do. Even though it's for children and teens, I did get into them big time. I'd started the first one over a year ago, and have caught up since. I've even paid retail price for the last one, so I could get it the same day it came out. Well, it was on discount, plus free shipping, plus a $5 coupon - so all in all a good deal.

The books are marvelous, trust me. Have I ever led you astray? Trussst innn meee, like that snake in Jungle book.

No, seriously, if you let yourself get lost in the books, you'll appreciate them in a whole different way than the movies. I have to say that I watch the movies after I read the books, and I get lost even though I know what is supposed to be happening.

Frances said...

Rima, my 2-year-old nephew Gabriel calls snakes meeeeeee he plays with a fakefur snake we have here and scares us all with it going meeeeeeee
and today he was creeping down the stairs on his belly going meeeeeeee - guess why? Jungle Book -
Harry Potter? I know nothing. Read the first two. Never saw any of the films. My daughter thought the films would spoil the books for her. After that she got bored and moved on to some Darker books.

Sweet Irene said...

I must be one of the few people who has never read a Harry Potter book and has never seen a Harry Potter film, except for sort of seeing one on an airplane with the sound off. People I know have all read the books and seen the films, but I guess I am not in the mood for that much fantasy and magic. I suppose I am too much connected to reality or something. Harry Potter could be a new modern day hero and the stories could be a new mythology. We do need new heroes.

Debi said...

I hope my daughter Audrey reads this post (I'll nudge her). She is another huge Harry Potter fan. Me, I couldn't get through the first book. Please don't ban me from your blog! I think if I had a little one to read it to at the time I would have enjoyed it more. I just don't really "get" fantasy very well.

Speaking of broomsticks and fantasies, for some reason I do love the Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki's "Kiki's Delivery Service" and love seeing my granddaughter love it too.

Hayao Miyazaki is awesome. I also love "Spirited Away" and forever and ever and ever will adore and worship "Totoro."

Eleanor said...

I find the books are very well-written and good literature, the first one that I read, at least. I will have to try the rest, on Rima's recommendation.

Debi, the Japanese seem to be very good at animation. All the kids round here were into Pokemon and Digimon big style. I wonder whether you had them over there.

Debi said...

Beverly, oh yes, they are big here too. Or were. I don't know. Now that my kids are grown I don't know what is current anymore. I still say "cool" and "dig it" for pity's sake.

I don't think Miyazaki is of that same ilk, though. I can't describe his work, but if you ever get a chance to see it, take the opportunity. You won't be sorry, I promise.

Eleanor said...

Yeah, the Pokemon was a bit basic, but the kids liked it! I'll try and catch Miyazaki on You Tube, as they are getting older they might appreciate something like this.