Thursday, August 4, 2011

My journey with Harry

So many bloggers have written of their love for Harry around the time the last movie came out, and I've been wanting to do the same. I realize I've missed jumping on Hogwart's Express with the rest of book blogdom, so I decided to take the Knight Bus and arrive late to the party. (hahaha). I figure late is better than not arriving at all. Even if my contribution is rather long and boring. But it's a post for me, not so much you, so I'm not feeling bad about being long. And boring.

How We Met:
I first came across Harry Potter in the summer of 1999. I was home for the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college. My mom had a teacher friend who was raving about the Harry Potter books so she bought a copy of the first 2,  Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, from Barnes and Noble. I, of course, could not resist picking them up, though I knew absolutely nothing about them. I began by reading the Chamber of Secrets because I didn't know what order they went in. I didn't get far before I figured out my mistake--it was super confusing. But once I read them, in order, I was IN LOVE. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came out that September. It was my favorite of the three.

You know when you read something that is so wonderful you want to share it with everyone? (of course you do--isn't that why we blog?) That was me. My younger sister isn't much of a reader, but I kept insisting that she read HP. She wouldn't. So Christmas break 1999 I began reading the first HP book to her before bed (we shared a room). It only took a few chapters before she didn't need me anymore and she read all three herself. Really, you'd think she'd know to listen to her big sister. Sadly, she still hasn't learned.

I also shared the love with my roommates. I got the first three HP books for Christmas that year and brought them up to school where all three of my roommates took turns reading them. Julie and Amy loved right along with me, but Katie wasn't much of a fan. Which was okay. She still joined in crushing on our neighbor, a boy with the last name Potter. I don't remember his first name, or even what he looked like, but at the time all four of us obsessed about him purely because of his last name. I don't think he knew we existed, but didn't stop us from loving him from afar.

Interestingly enough, it was this year (1999-2000) that the big hullabaloo over Harry Potter teaching children evil sorcery really began (at least to my recollection). A fellow student was writing a paper for a class (I remember what class or why this topic) asking the question, "Is Harry Potter Evil and Bad for Children?" I am not joking. She interviewed me as one of her sources. I, of course, was of the opinion that he wasn't.

Falling More Deeply in Love:
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was published July 2000. Media Play was having a party and a midnight release of the book. I believe it was the first time they'd ever done this. My sister and I were so totally there. We arrived around 9pm and were disappointed to see that all the activities were for the little kids, none were for kids-at-heart. So we got in line and the employees STARTED HANDING OUT BOOKS. Yes, they did. We were fifth and sixth in line to check out, and from 10 to midnight while waiting, we were standing in line READING the book before it was officially released. It was awesome.

In all honesty, when I began reading HP and the Goblet of Fire, I was disappointed. The feeling and set up of the novel was so different from the first three. The first chapter is about He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named killing the poor Riddle care taker. It was darker and grittier and different than I wanted it to be. There was a loss of innocence for Harry, and I missed that. But by the end, I loved it just as much as the others, possibly more so. I accepted that Harry and his world was changing.

My sister and I went to the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix June 2003, but this time Media Play did not let us read the book in line. We had to wait until midnight. Bummer. The same with Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in July 2005. My sister and I had races to see who would finish the books first. She'd get so mad because it was usually me. We'd get very little sleep for the days it took us to read the books. I remember us having rooms down the hall from each other and yelling frustrations or exclamations of excitement as we were reading the same book. My parents would read the books after us and then we'd have epic dinner discussions.

When the last book was released July 2007, the Main City Library in Salt Lake City had a huge release party. By this time, libraries and book sellers had realized that HP wasn't just for kids, but for adults, too. They had party activities for all ages. Smart move on their part, and a lot of fun and fanaticism on mine.  

A bunch of us attended the library party, then went to the big Barnes and Noble store in Salt Lake to pick up our pre-ordered books. They were also having a party. There were HUNDREDS of people, many of them dressed up, waiting in line to pick up their book, but I'd gotten a ticket earlier in the day and had a number in the early 100s, so the wait wasn't so long for me. The line wrapped all around the mall, outside the store entrance. It was crazy. And then we stayed up all night reading the books.

I've read all of the books at least twice, the early ones I reread each time a new book was coming out. I love them so very much. Though that doesn't mean some aspects dont irritate me. Dumbledore not avoiding Harry in book five? LAME. Harry having an attitude in book five? LAMER. Harry's obsession with Malfoy in book six? ANNOYING. The whole, long episode of Grawp? BORING. But over all, I love Harry and his adventures.

What I Love about Harry Potter's books:
I love story arcs that build through multiple books. I loved that about HP. With each book, the story got more invovled and the stakes are raised so much more.  Each of the stories had a twisted ending (except for maybe the fifth) that was so surprising and cool. The whole world of magic was new and fresh and so fun to read about. And of course the characters--Umbridge wasn't evil like Voldemort, but she was evil in her own way. Characters were never black and white, there was a lot of gray in there as well. I loved Neville and Sirius and Snape. I loved them all, which kept me up reading late into the early morning.

Talking Pictures with Harry Potter:
I love how the people in pictures in HP's magical world move, so what could be better than Harry Potter walking around on a screen real to life? For me, a lot.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone came out Friday November 16, 2001. I remember the date well because I was leaving the country for eighteen months as a missionary for my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or Mormons)) on November 14, 2001 and for that whole eighteen months I would not be watching any movies. But I loved Harry so very much! I was really lucky because I won tickets to see an advanced screening for the movie on November 12th! It was very exciting.

However, the movie was anything but. I sat in the theatre for over two hours utterly and completely bored. BORED. It was actually lucky for me because then I didn't spend eighteen months pining for a movie that sucked. 

In general, I have a hard time letting go of the book when a movie is made from it. I try, really I do, but the books tend to be so much better and the movies aren't what I think they should be. Having said that, I don't love the HP movies. The first two are so boring, and in a lot of the others they change little things that either make no sense or are only to make it more exciting and in doing so, they make it less exciting and just ridiculous. The dragon escaping and chasing Harry all over Hogwarts in The Goblet of Fire is just one example.

A month before the last movie came out, I hosted a Harry Potter Mega Movie Marathon and watched all seven. We started Friday night by watching the first two, then began at 8:30am Saturday morning with movie 3 and finished movie 7 at 11pm Saturday night. It was Epic. I don't think they make much sense unless you've read the books. Jaye, who has not read the books, concures. There are things I like about all the movies (except the first two), but also things that bother me about all the movies.

As for the last was good. Some little things were a tad silly (since when do tears contain memories?) but mostly I felt like the ending battle with Voldemorte and his snake was beyond annoying. Another example of trying to sensationalize something beyond what was needed. And the whole sequence with Nagini at the end was just so not epic, when it was just so cool in the book. Though I will admit I got teary-eyed mulitiple times while watching the movie.

What I've heard more than anything as I've eavesdropped on conversations about the book is that people were disapointed in the last five minutes. The characters didn't look older, they just looked ridiculous. That didn't bother me at all.

Yes, I freely admit I am picky. And because of that, I will stick to the books. But I did really like this picture.

In Conclusion:
I did warn you this was long and boring. If you actually read this whole epistle, you deserve a prize.

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