The ramblings of a freelance writer, novelist and avid reader.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

HP Monday – Why Ask Why? Just Enjoy It?

So my friend Joe (Hi Joe) writes a lot when he’s sick. He posts a lot of blogs too. I discovered last week that when I’m sick I like to curl up in bed and watch/read mindless things…and absolutely can’t stand writing a single word.

That being said, I took a break from all things in the Potterverse last week – didn’t watch or read a thing. I’m back on track now, watching the third movie this afternoon. Wow! I love this movie almost as much as I love this book. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m just a mindless fanatic and can’t use my critical analytical skills at all when it comes to HP. If true, it just won’t be as fun for this blog.

So yep, I agree with all of you: Don’t know why book 3 and movie 3 are so great, but why ask why every time. I’m just going to say there are some things that you’re just going to enjoy for no other reason than entertainment. I’m sick of trying to answer the why I like it question, so I officially give up.

I had you going there, didn’t I?! Why ask why? Well because I want to know why – hello! I’m not the type to give up on something, even if it is trying to figure out why my crazy brain works the way it does. This doesn’t mean I’m going to think about it so much I’ll miss out on the enjoyment; that would be ridiculous. But that analytical part of me just keeps niggling away at my enjoyment.

I’m breaking it down this week. And I’d like to start by saying: Until this point I really have thought of book 1 and book 2 as separate entities to movie 1 and movie 2; but not so with book and movie 3. Movie 3 seems to be an extension of book 3. As I’ve stated before, this is the first movie I felt myself getting right into the wizarding world – stretching my legs and walking around for a while picturing a grander scope than just Harry’s perspective. Now this is strange to me because I’ve already talked about this book being a Harry, Ron and Hermione love fest – I still think it’s about these three and their friendship. They’ve blocked out a lot of other characters and are really only thinking about themselves for most of it; yet the movie has more depth, more vibrancy. (Even in its muted color themes of browns, tans and oranges – Danny, movie guy, feel free to extrapolate on Cuaron’s use of surroundings, colors, and sweeping camera shots here…and that big, beautiful clock that no other director got rid of.) I can’t think of these two separately anymore – I really think I like the book so much BECAUSE of the movie and vice versa; the two compliment each other almost perfectly.

Time is a big theme in this book and movie (again with the big, beautiful clock AND the tiny Time-Turner) and although it may have been done before, I still like seeing the same three hours replay themselves from a different viewpoint in the book and the way time cannot be the same twice…or how messing with time will have effects and the unbelievable happens – i.e. Harry knows he can produce an extremely powerful patronus because he’d already done it before. Or, in the movie – Hermione sees the shells and rocks and knows she has to throw them to get herself, Ron and Harry out of Hagrid’s cottage. Don’t get me wrong, time is always a theme – as are numbers – in the realm of Harry Potter. Each book is a school year in the life and moves from birthday to end of term, Harry continues to notice in book 4 how time sometimes runs quickly and sometimes moves as slowly as a snail, time ages, time will tell, all of those adages apply; but book 3 is the only one that has extreme time manipulation. Does Hermione even use the Time-Turner after this book? So why does time have such an impact this year? And, that’s another reason I love this book and movie. As a writer I’ve always been fascinated with the way time runs – is it really linear? Does it have a beginning and an end? Can my characters manipulate it? From that writer perspective it’s a little bit like playing God – for me more than even developing characters and choosing what they say and do, when they fall in love and when they die – trying to grasp the concept of hours, minutes and days and change it around is truly mesmerizing. The fact the Rowling chooses to play with the same questions and manipulations makes me appreciate this text even more.

The one thing I didn’t like in the movie – that made more sense to my sensibilities about the internal character of Harry (and Ron, Hermione and Snape for that matter) was the scene in the Shrieking Shack when Snape walks in on the little tableau of discovering misunderstandings while creating more. In the book, Ron, Hermione and Harry all pretty sure Sirius is a good guy at this point – they’ve heard the evidence, they think Scabbers may be Pettigrew – at the least there is a seed of extreme doubt in each of their minds. So they band together and all three strike Snape with the disarming charm, knocking him out cold. In the movie, it is just Harry, and there is no reason for his trust yet, Lupin and Sirius haven’t gotten around to explaining anything. The knockout is just as strong as in the book though, but just Harry performs it…and is then chastised by Hermione for disarming a teacher.

What bothers me most about this scene in the movie is the disservice it does to Hermione’s growing and changing character. To me the essence of her character development is seeing things in a not so black and white / good and bad perception. Hermione is definitely seeing shades of grey by this point in the books and until you read the final book, I think you (at least I did) wonder just how far she can push those shades of grey before she walks on the dark side of the path. She IS a powerful and talented witch and a bit scary as Ron has pointed out, but here she comes off a goody, goody who would never think about stepping a toe out of bounds. And yes, perhaps I’ve put too much on just the one scene – both in book and movie – but it stood out both when I read the scene, and then later when I watched it.

It’s time to hear your thoughts on book and movie – or my ramblings this week. So, what do you think?

Still discussing book 3 next week – and I may take a break from HP Mondays (or whatever day I get them posted, seriously) in November so I can work on my new novel (November IS National Novel Writing Month after all) and we can pick up in December with book and movie 4.

Jibber-jabber and chat on!


  1. I noticed too how the Time-Turner was disposed of after the 3rd book. Hermione actually gives it back to Professor McGonagall and tells Harry and Ron that she's going to quit being a huge over-achiver and stick with just being an over-achiver. (Which I don't mind at all, I feel like I am an over-achiver sometimes myself) I personally think that time, such as the beautiful clock and the Time-Turners, plays such an important roll because of the age Harry, Ron and Hermione are all at, which is the magical age of 13. The age of 13 is supposed to be the "age of change" (or something of the like) Time feels like it has suddenly slammed an energy drink, and now has an extreme sugar/caffeine rush. Now, this is merely my opinion, but perhaps Rowling was trying to say that with all of the time references? Harry is finding out more about his dad. His dad was a Animigus along with a bit of a rule breaker, and his best friend didn't betray him, the tagalong of his little group did. (A very significant difference) He discovered that he has the closest thing to a godfather-Sirius. Downside, Sirius is an alleged murderer. Bummer. Anyways, a lot is changing for Harry and we all know that when life is just chucking things at you, time seems to fly by. With the Time-Turner, Rowling is expressing what we all want--a break, and the chance to go back and fix what we stupidly decided upon in our adolecent years, or even just have a few more moments to digest the new developments in our lives.

    I so very much agree with you on Hermione's portrayal in the movie. She is given the image of a very tightly-wound girl who wishes only to abide by the rules. In the books, she increasingly agrees with Harry and Ron's rule breaking tendency's. The movies (I feel) don't portray that at all, except perhaps the first one when she casts a spell on Neville to get him out of their way.

    As I said before, this is all my personal opinion on Rowling's use of Time. The third book is my absolute fave by the way...

  2. Good insight Christina and yes, I think their age has a lot to do with it. Do you too remember thinking summers would never end - they would drag on forever and ever and so much could happen in a day. Now, I feel like I only get one thing done a day and it's already gone. And summer? What's that. It went away before it began.

    I had a chance to listen to the author Vince Flynn talk this weekend about his books and writing in general. He pointed out somehting I'm going to steel from him to use in my blog - so I might as well give him credit here. He said Rowling (yes, when a bunch of writers get together to discuss writing, they do indeed talk about Harry Potter and JK Rowling!) gets shorter with her descriptions to speed up the pace in her books. Time moves more quickly because her sentences are shorter - it is very deliberate. He suggested looking at the flowing details in the first book and looking at the denseness of the last book to notice just how much the writing changes along with the characters. Part of this is because we - as the reader - have a pretty clear idea of what the characters and Hogwarts look like by the last book, but part of it is also swiftly moving time. Brilliant really, if you stop and think about it!