Monday, July 23, 2007

The Cusp of Harry Potter

*May contain Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows & Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film) spoilers. You've been warned.*

Welcome to Harry Potter Central (also known as Barnes and Noble at Union Square).

"And now, Harry, let us step out into the night and pursue that flighty temptress, adventure."
—Dumbledore in The Half-Blood Prince

It's difficult ending a series whether it be films, TV shows or in this case, books. Think of all the disappointing series finales. Take Sex and the City: big fuckin' deal, his name is John, wow. Compare that to Six Feet Under's beautiful series finale, which is hands-down the best finale I've ever seen. It is expected and unexpected at the same time, answers all of my questions from the entire series, doesn't get old and made me cry. Alan Ball knew what he was doing.

And in the same way, J.K. Rowling knew what she was doing with Harry Potter. From the amazing tale of a baby surviving the most notorious evil wizard's failed spell within a magical world where wizards and witches live along with Muggles (or, you know, non-magical people) and there is the fight between good (Dumbledore, Aurors, the Order of the Phoenix, Gryffindor and most of Hogwarts) and evil (Voldemort/You-Know-Who/Tom Riddle, Death Eaters), Rowling's story grew into a fully developed and wonderfully explored story and an enormous phenomenon, both for children and adults alike.

Because it was the last book, Josh, my sister and I decided to go all out and join the festivities at the Union Square Barnes and Noble after making a quick stop at Scholastic's blowout at Mercer and Prince Street where the mechanical Whomping Willow almost broke and a hand popped through one of its wailing branches.

Making wands at the wandshop.

There, as we were surrounded by people dressed up like Harry Potter, parents, a dog dressed up as a bat and random Harry Potter characters (my sister was terrified of the thestral), we drank potions at The Apothecary, made wands (where we waited near the travel section, thank god, and an adorable boy kept biting Josh), listened to Jim Dale read bits of Order of the Phoenix out loud, randomly ran into people that either of us knew (friends from college and my sister's elementary school friend), watching the press run around and get their interviews, videos and pictures, and just waiting, lots and lots of waiting. Because we didn't reserve the books ahead of time for gold wristbands (they didn't exactly advertise that, did they?), Josh waited in line that Friday morning and received a red wristband, which meant we would receive our books after all the lucky gold wristbanded people got theirs. And that meant we wandered around Barnes and Noble a lot.

Adorable little Remus Lupin.

After leaving the store at 2 a.m. and getting home at 3 a.m. I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at 12 p.m. Saturday. After all the hype, it didn't even come close to being disappointing.

I don't want to spoil the book too much. The sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was completely spoiled for me and to this day, I hate that person. But like I said earlier, with the exception of one chapter, this book was amazing. Rowling dished out the expected but it didn't seem too cheesy or predictable. There were flashbacks to earlier books and she even brought up minuscule details that didn't seem important at the time but here in the world of Deathly Hallows, everything depended on them. She explained all without letting the readers down. And while Harry Potter is ideally for kids, she threw in more mature developments, such as the eagerness at which Harry kisses. The battles are epic, especially the final showdown and Rowling shows no mercy with who ventures to the other side, whether they be a Death Eater or member of the Order of Phoenix. She also has a wonderful way of creating scenes. My favorite in this book, besides the battles, was the house on the cliff overlooking the ocean.

Counting down to midnight for the official book release.

Now, taking a step back, the week before, on July 10th, the three of us watched the midnight showing of Order of the Phoenix. Director David Yates (previously of mostly British television shows) took the reins from Alfonso Cuarón (HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Y tu mamá también) and created a brilliant film. Yates focuses completely on the larger picture—the question of what is behind the door that Harry (Daniel Radcliffe, who is incredibly attractive and looks older than he actually is and is legal as of today so it's okay for me to say that) dreams of as he enters Voldemort's mind and everything that leads up to it: Dumbledore's Army, the Order of the Phoenix, being reunited with his godfather, Sirius Black (the wonderful Gary Oldman). Though I did wonder how Cuarón would have approached the dark halls of the Ministry of Magic's Department of Mysteries.

The Whomping Willow at SoHo.

I could have done without Harry's and Cho's awkward and near-romance. Yates also created more implications within the film than they were in the movie, which isn't a good thing. As Sirius and Harry duel Death Eaters, Sirius outrightly calls Harry James, the name of Harry's dead father and Sirius' best friend, thus not subtly showing that that Sirius viewed Harry as a James-substitute. And there were far more longing-/loving-glances at hopeful-significant others. Other than that, Order of the Phoenix ties with Mike Newell's Goblet of Fire (which happens to be one of my favorite Harry Potter books, along with Deathly Hallows now). Whoever directs the final movie must do an excellent job, especially with the epic battle.

The line outside of the Union Square Barnes and Noble. Sadly, those people couldn't buy the book because they closed the store after all the red-wrist-banded people got theirs. My friend, who was waiting on that line at first, walked over to the 22nd and 6th Avenue Barnes and Noble and got his book at 1 pm. Yeah.

And now that the tales of Harry Potter are over, there's nothing left to do but go back and reread the books, starting from The Sorcerer's Stone (or, if you prefer, The Philosopher's Stone) and look for all the details I previously missed and just wonder if Equus is really coming to Broadway.

1 comment:

Bothan Spies said...

xenophilius lovegood's house was also another awesome scene. but shell cottage was also my favorite little nook. i'm glad you loved book 7 too. i wish i could've gone to the little fair thing, but i was housesitting on eastern li!

cool new blog, nadia.

ps. if you can see hp5 in imax, it's definitely worth it.