Tag Archives: harry potter

Re-Reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Post-Election

I re-read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire last month, and there were many things that stood out to me as very timely in the wake of the election. (Just to be clear, in case my readers are of differing opinions, I view the election of a man who consistently spews racist, sexist, hateful rhetoric, and who has shown a willingness to protect and preserve his own ego and assets but not our national security interests or constitutional integrity, as a very negative event that will harmfully impact much if not all of our citizenry, and which I am committed to mitigating and resisting in every way that I can.)

Oh, and also, this post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

trump-voldemort-google-image
Google Image results that confirm I’m not the only one making certain comparisons. But maybe it’s more accurate to say Voldemort represents Facism, which has ‘returned’ in a new body despite lots of people having been under the impression it was defeated decades ago

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Green Eyes

I’ve always been annoyed by the treatment of green eyes in movies and books.  I have green eyes myself, and as a child I always hated that green eyes were supposed to be some sort of shorthand for villainous, jealous, or somehow evil characters. It’s like, blue eyes are for “pretty girl” characters, brown eyes are for “smart girl” characters, green eyes are for “crazy/jealous/evil or minor character girls.”

Green eyes in this movie poster let you know Loki’s the bad guy.

One of my favorite books growing up was A Little Princess, (which I would have loved anyway since it is a delightful story), but one of the reasons I clung to it was because the heroine, little Sara Crew, is repeatedly described as having gray-green eyes.  I loved Sara’s imagination, bravery, and selflessness, but most of all I loved that she was such a good character who also happened to have green eyes.

“Oh,” sniffed Lavinia, spitefully, “that is the way her shoes are made.  I don’t think she is pretty at all.  Her eyes are such a queer color.”

“She isn’t as pretty as other people are,” said Jessie, stealing a glance across the room, “but she makes you want to look at her again.  She has tremendously long eyelashes, but her eyes are almost green.” (–Sara’s first day at boarding school, from chapter 2 of A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett)

Then of course Harry Potter came along when I was a bit older, and throughout seven glorious books the boy who would save the Wizarding world again and again was the proud owner of a pair of green eyes, just like his mother.

Harry had a thin face, knobbly knees, black hair, and bright green eyes.

“Las’ time I saw you, you was only a baby,” said the giant.  “Yeh look a lot like yer dad, but yeh’ve got yer mom’s eyes.”

-(from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by J.K. Rowling, chapters 1 and 2)

Of course, the movie adaptations of Harry Potter feature a blue-eyed star, (and inexplicably his mother has brown eyes as a child), so needless to say that was a disappointment.  And in both of the Little Princess movies that I’ve seen, the main character had blue eyes.

What sparked this post was the release of the first image of Angelina Jolie as Maleficent in her latest project, a live-action version of Sleeping Beauty.  The first thing I noticed were the eyes.

The accompanying article in Entertainment Weekly describes her image by saying:

There’s a kind of vampire quality to the tipped back head and slightly parted, blood-red lips, and of course the glowing eye — pure nasty.

I know they aren’t outright saying that green eyes are nasty.  But it still feels a little personal, that the costume designer went with glowing green eyes and not blue or brown or some non-human color like purple or red, and especially because my eyes actually have rings of color similar to this rendering of Maleficent; green on the outside and then brown and yellow in the center.  (I would post a picture, but I’m paranoid about the personal information that I put online, and what if iris scanning becomes a thing?  You’ll just have to take my word for it.  Some might classify my eyes as hazel, but they are predominantly green and I’ve always self-identified as a green-eyed girl.)

I’m just so sick and tired of my fellow green-eyed people being negatively stereotyped onscreen!  Or, more often, completely absent from the screen.  Thank goodness for books, where my imagination’s casting director never has a hard time projecting characters that actually match their written descriptions.  I recently came across a new book with a green-eyed heroine for me to admire, the main character in Matched.

“Greenspace, green tablet,” Grandfather said, and then he looked at me and smiled.  “Green eyes on a green girl.”

“That sounds like poetry,” I said, and he laughed.

“Thank you.”  He paused for a moment.  “I wouldn’t take that tablet, Cassia.  Not for a report.  And perhaps not ever.  You are strong enough to go without it.”

I close my eyes and think of Grandfather’s poetry.

Green tablet.  Green space.  Green eyes.  Green girl.

-(Matched by Ally Condie, Chapter 10)

The movie rights to Matched have been sold, but I won’t hold my breath for accurate eye-color casting.  With the exception of the Twilight films, contact lenses and digital re-touchings seem to be too much bother for film producers to concern themselves with.  Just look at The Hunger Games, where the books describe Katniss and Gale as having gray eyes and Peeta as blue, but they cast blue-eyed actors for the former and a guy with brown eyes for the later.  And they didn’t bother with contacts.

Until Rapnzel in 2010’s Tangled, I don’t remember encountering an on-screen princess with green eyes.  None of the Disney Princesses have them.  If I had still been a little girl when Tangled came out, I probably would have idolized her.

You do see green eyes in Disney movies.  It’s just that they’re always the bad girls.

Then of course there are neutral portrayals of green eyes, like how the Earth Benders in Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra tend to have them.

And while we’re on the subject of Legend of Korra, I have to give a shout-out to Asami Sato, a non-bender who holds her own in combat, drives race cars, stands up for herself and is on team Avatar.  You go, green-eyed Asami!

In conclusion, I guess I feel like I can relate in a very small, insignificant way to the frustration that other minority groups might feel at being under-represented, sidelined or negatively stereotyped in film and literature.   There’s just something about having a hero you can admire and say, “Hey!  They look like me!” that resonates.  I can only imagine how much more it would matter if to me if I were talking about skin color or cultural background.  Eye color is relatively trivial by comparison, but I will still always keep a (green) eye out for positive green-eyed representatives.

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Is McGonagall Filch’s Mother?

I’ve noticed several people asking this question online.

The answer is: NO.  There isn’t even a hint of confusion to anyone who has read the books, (who would know that Professor Minerva McGonagall never married and* has no children,  and that Filch’s full name is Argus Filch so they don’t have the same last name anyway, and also his magical family is ashamed of his being a squib and I don’t think McGonagall would ever be ashamed of her own child if she had one).  But for people whose knowledge of the Harry Potter universe is informed only by the film adaptations, I think I can pinpoint the moment of misunderstanding.

images from purepotter.tumblr.com

About forty minutes into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, after Harry has returned to Hogwarts and Professor McGonagall has dueled Snape right out the window, and Voldemort projects his voice and says they should hand over Potter, and Pansy Parkinson yells “someone grab him!”, then Filch comes running into the Great Hall where everyone else is assembled shouting about the students being “out of bed!”  An exasperated McGonagall says, “They are supposed to be out of bed, you blithering idiot!”  An abashed Filch responds, “Oh…sorry Ma’am.” Next McGonagall intones, “As it happens, Filch, your arrival is most opportune.  If you would I would like you please to lead Miss Parkinson and the rest of Slytherin House from the hall,” and Filch asks, “Exactly where is it I’ll be leading them to, Ma’am?”  (To which McGonagall zings “The dungeons would do,” an exchange I have outlined non-linguistic criticisms for elsewhere.)

The confusion for audience members who have only watched the movies lies in Filch’s dialect; although “ma’am” rhymes with “ham” in Standard American English, in some dialects of British English is rhymes with “farm.”  Furthermore in some dialects of British English “r”s are deleted, so that pronouncing “ma’am” to sound like “farm” but dropping the “r” ends up sounding like the Standard American English pronunciation for “mom.”

Okay?  Got it, confused googler?  Now why don’t you start actually reading the Harry Potter books instead of googling silly questions like this one?  They are great reads and I promise there are a plethora of rich and interesting character relationships and dynamics, even if Filch being McGonagall’s son isn’t one of them.

*information released on Pottermore.com has now informed us that McGonagall was in fact married.

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The Hogwarts Cheer

The Hogwarts Cheer is something that appears in several of the Harry Potter movies.  I don’t mean a “go-fight-win” cheer, I mean an actual, clapping, cheering, whoo-hooing phenomenon that I have dubbed “Hogwarts Cheer,” which I now use to label similar cheesy celebrations in other movies.  A Hogwarts Cheer isn’t just a crowd cheering–lots of movies have cheering crowds and they aren’t cheesy at all.  But if it is cheesy, and especially if there are children, (and at least one of them is saying “yaaaaaaay!”), and the whole thing is symbolic of the protagonist’s victory and/or the antagonist’s downfall, then you’ve got yourself a Hogwarts Cheer.

The original Hogwarts Cheer ^

The original Hogwarts Cheer of course is at the end of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, when Gryffindor wins the house cup.  Click here to see the clip.  See what I mean?  It’s a little overly enthusiastic, right?  But it’s the feel-good end of a children’s movie, so, it fits.  We see the Hogwarts Cheer again at the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, (click here to see), when Hagrid is released from Azkaban and re-instated as Hogwarts groundskeeper.  Then in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, the students give a Hogwarts Cheer to Professor McGonagall for vanquishing Snape from the castle, (click here and skip to 3:05 to see), and right after that when she sends the Slytherins to the dungeons, (an action which I have already pointed out as a flaw in the film), there is an abbreviated Hogwarts Cheer. (Click here and skip to 49 second mark to see).

Snape would never participate in a Hogwarts Cheer. He claps too slow, plus he would never say "yaaaay!"

Basically, a Hogwarts Cheer is anything that sounds like this:

I know there was a great big Hogwarts Cheer at the end of Dolphin Tale, but I can’t find a clip of it online.  There have got to be tons of other examples, too, but since I am the only person I know so far who uses this term I can’t exactly google “Hogwarts Cheer examples other movies” or something.  I think the fact that I continue to use the label “Hogwarts Cheer” even when the context isn’t related to Harry Potter is just another example of the far-reaching cultural influence of the beloved series.

Do you know what I’m talking about?  Can you think of any other examples of the Hogwarts Cheer?

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Nerdy Harry Potter 7.2 Criticisms

I finally saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2, for the second time yesterday.  I have decided it is probably nearly as good as it could have been.  I think I may have enjoyed it more at the second viewing, being prepared for what was to come and less distracted by my disappointments, but I missed the enthusiasm of the crowd at the midnight viewing.  This dumb audience yesterday hardly laughed or cheered at any part, and they smelled of nachos and loudly crunching popcorn and a large group wandered in forty minutes after it had started.  Muggles!

Anyway, even though I would say that overall this movie is “very good,” there are still several things that I didn’t like or that just bothered me as a fan of the books.  Some are more trivial than others, and this post will probably not include every criticism I have for the movie adaptations.  Nor am I including praise for the hundreds of things I do love about the films.

Okay, one of the things that really irked me about HP7.2 was McGonagall’s lines to Filch after Pansy Parkison cries out, “What are you waiting for?!  Someone grab him!” (Harry, whom Voldemort has just demanded).  Filch comes running in yelling “Students out of bed!”, which, yes, is funny, and an exasperated McGonagall informs him “they’re supposed to be out of bed,” but then she continues, “As it happens, your arrival is most opportune.  If you would, please lead Ms. Parkinson and the rest of Slytherin house out of the hall.”  Filch asks where he is supposed to take them, and McGonagall replies, “The dungeons would do.”  Her remark is followed by cheesy cheering from the rest of the students.

I really dislike this exchange, mostly because it undermines one of the great messages of the Harry Potter series, one which is even included in the epilogue concluding the entire saga.  When little Albus Severus Potter is worried he might be sorted into Slytherin house, his father reminds him “You are named after two headmasters at Hogwarts, one of them was a Slytherin and he was the bravest man I’ve ever known.”  When Albus is still unsure, Harry says if it happens, “Then Slytherin house will have gained a fine new wizard.”  It echos back to what Dumbledore tells Harry at the end of Chamber of Secrets, that “It is our choices, Harry, not our abilities, that define who we truly are.”  I’ve always really loved that message, and McGonagall’s line and everybody’s stupid cheering sweeps it aside, glossing all the Slytherin’s together just because Pansy Parkinson is a dumbass.  Yes, probably (definitely) there are other Slytherins who would rather join the Death Eaters than fight against them.  But they should be given the dignity to choose their own side, just as they and all the students are in the books.  And let’s not forget that this is the installment that finally reveals what a hero Snape of Slytherin house is!   The movie gains nothing from a line like this except comic relief.  Well, shame on you, Steve Kloves, you should have been able to come up with something funny that wasn’t so Troll-ish.

Second major criticism: child Lily’s eyes!  ALL of my Harry Potter friends that saw the movie had this same complaint.  When the dying Snape asks Harry to “Look at me,” and the movie even added the line “You have your mother’s eyes,” just to make it super-ultra clear why he wanted Harry’s eyes to be the last thing he saw, (which is one of my favorite parts of the book), you would think the producers would realize that it is very important that Lily’s eyes actually match Harry’s!  But in the very beginning of Snape’s memories, there’s a close-up of her eyes, and they are BROWN!?!!  It is already a great annoyance to me that Harry’s eyes are blue in the movies instead of the green from the books, but very well, you’ve decided to go with blue, so, then, you damn well better make Lily’s eyes blue as well.  Did you not have the budget for contact lenses or CGI?  You know this movie is just about to make a billion dollars worldwide, a billion, and no money could be spared on this very important detail?!  I wouldn’t be quite so annoyed if you hadn’t specifically called attention to it mere moments before!  In the dialogue, not subtly!  I cannot fathom how such an obvious error was made.

Another obvious (to me) error was when Ron spoke Parseltongue to open the Chamber of Secrets, (so he and Hermione can get some Basilisk fangs and destroy a horcrux.)  He’s supposed to say “Open.”  In the book he has to try it several times before getting it right.  In the movie, it works for him the first time, and he turns to Hermione and explains, “Harry talks in his sleep, have you noticed?”  The problem with this scene is that Ron most certainly does NOT say “open”.  I’ve seen Chamber of Secrets and Deathly Hallows part 1 (when Harry opens the locket) enough times to know that “open” sounds like this: sh::::ai::::::ah-hae:::suruh.  (Colons mean you hold out the sound.)  Anyway, that’s not what Ron says.  Go watch it.  It’s not even close.  And again, I just don’t understand how the hell a movie with a budget this big, and with so many people involved, doesn’t get something like that right.  How did they manage to have Harry say it the same way in movies 2 and 7, and not get this?!

Additionally, I think they really should have explained the Deathly Hallows more, or at least mentioned them again at the end, because it’s quite an important detail that when Harry goes to face Voldemort in the forest, intending to let himself be killed, he is in fact master of all three.  He’s wearing the invisibility cloak, (of course he’s not wearing it in the movie, because he hardly every does, and it’s such a shame, especially when they’ve demonstrated in the Gringotts escapade how marvelously it can be done on film), he’s got the resurrection stone and he is the proper master of the Elder Wand.  I guess people can figure it out, if they think about it, but I bet people who haven’t read the books don’t pick up on that.

Speaking of people who haven’t read the book, I don’t think Snape’s memories were very clear, either.  I’m glad they are at least included, I’m glad we saw him conjure his patronus and say “Always,” I’m willing to accept that they filled up time we could have been seeing his actual memories with clips from previous films to help revise his history in the audience’s mind, but there is still something lacking.  I dislike the line at King’s Cross station when Harry says that Snape and his mother both have a doe patronus, “Curious, isn’t it?”  and Dumbledore just says, “Actually now that I think about it, it doesn’t seem curious at all.”  This feels out of place, and I mean, it shouldn’t even be necessary because if Harry has seen all of Snape’s memories it should be obvious that Snape loved his mother.  And furthermore, the movies never did mention that your patronus could change if you were in love, because they never talked about Tonks and Lupin in great detail.  One of my friends who has not read the books asked after this movie ended, “So was Snape Harry’s real dad?”  See what I mean?  Not clear enough.

I’m so over the wand cores connecting every time Voldemort and Harry face off.  It is supposed to be this very rare thing, that only happens because their wands share a core, and only happens once, at the end of Goblet of Fire.  I’m sort of resigned to the fact that they love doing it in the movies because it is a visual medium and it has become an iconic image.  But this time I saw a glimpse of Arthur Weasley with his wand connected to whomever he was fighting, and I just sighed, like, really?  I enjoy movies, I love books, it’s fun to see a movie based on a book I’ve read, but it’s always a cheaper, blander universe.  It’s like talking to someone who has read the book, and liked it, but can’t really remember everything that happened, and gets quotes and names wrong, and would probably say “Wingard Levosa!” instead of “Wingardium Leviosa.”  It’s just annoying.

I don’t like that Voldemort disintegrated when he died.  I’m sure that was probably to help keep it PG-13, somehow, but then again there were dead bodies strewn about the entire castle.  Is it to show that he (and Bellatrix, who also disintegrates), are really “gone”?  Because I thought it had the opposite effect; the way that it lingered on the tiny floating pieces in the wind made it look like he was temporarily beaten but his soul might still be hanging around in the ether somewhere, waiting to posses another bald person and live on the back of their head.  I mean of course he’s not, they destroyed all the horcruxes, he is clearly dead for real, but I could see the visual representation of his demise leaving doubts.  Because at the end of the first movie he becomes a dust cloud, and obviously that isn’t the end of him.

Okay, last thought, and this one is really more of a question for the book that I only just realized when I saw the movie again–why isn’t Dumbledore one of the dead that Harry brings back to walk through the forest with him?  Is it because he is still uncertain and unsettled about their relationship, still feeling betrayed about all the things he didn’t know?  (I said before I that didn’t think the films made Harry have to face any of that, by the way.)  Of course it would take the punch out of the King’s Cross scene if Harry had just seen ghost Dumbledore in the forest, but still…it’s curious.  He certainly knew Dumbledore better than his parents.

Alright, enough whining.  Some other time maybe I’ll post about all the things I liked.  (Neville! Snape! Molly! Piertotum Locomotor! The music! The Gray Lady! Bellatrix-Hermione! The dragon! Neville again!)  Oh, and I’ve changed my header to include a fantastic line from Dumbledore at King’s Cross: “Words are, in my not so humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”

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initial HP7.2 reactions

i went to the midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2, last night.  it was the last time i’ll ever go to a new harry potter movie! the fandom will live on, and i will definitely watch the movies and read the books again, over and over, and have parties where we dress up again, but there is something different about the energy when nobody has seen it yet and everybody is lined up waiting for hours and hours (i got there five hours early and the line was already around two corners of the theater).  i loved so many of the costumes. mine was an authentic ravenclaw robe.

i had expected to cry. i did not. i don’t know if it was because i was so tired, (i felt light-headed before the movie even started), or if it was because i had anticipated it too much and spent all my tears in the week leading up to it, or if i was unable to get into the emotion of the story because of the distraction of all the things they changed and the audience’s yelling and laughing and cheering and obscuring many of the lines of dialogue that i’m sure were great, or, maybe it was too fast.  maybe they really didn’t allow the emotion to develop.

i need to watch it again, under different, move well-rested and less high-expectation-ed circumstances, before i make a final judgment.  because there really were so many things that i loved. moments that i absolutely wanted to see included that were, characters that got terrific treatment.  i’m thinking of mcgonagall and mrs. weasley, and NEVILLE, and SNAPE!!!!!! and the beginning was good, and the gringots escapade was brilliant, and i expected they would change crap around, because they always do and because they had left out so many essentials from previous films they really had to scramble to explain things in this last one.

but.

i feel like it is the movie’s fault, not mine, that i didn’t cry.  i say that knowing i might change my mind after i see it again.  and knowing it sounds really arrogant and critical, and like i didn’t appreciate it, when in truth i absolutely loved so many individual scenes.  but i feel like the movie was too fast.  scenes were slammed together, plot points were included but i didn’t have time to get into the moment with any of them. they were all over too fast, and it was on to something else.  what was included was (mostly) terrific, but…i don’t know…i needed more.

i’m glad they split the final book into two films, there is no doubt we got to see more that way. but. they still left too much out, or didn’t properly handle what they included. for instance, they establish the doubt about dumbledore’s intentions and trustworthiness in part 1. they meet aberforth in part 2 and he is resentful towards his brother, and then…nothing. we don’t get any resolve to that, unless you are satisfied by harry resolutely stating “i trusted the man i knew.” aberforth is right to retort “that’s a boy’s answer.”  film harry never really confronts the uncomfortable truths about his mentor, not even in the king’s cross station. which i’m sure is because of time constraints and pacing concerns and all that. but i’m just saying, there were a lot of subplots like that about which i felt unsatisfied.

another example–in the trailer, we saw tonks and lupin stretch out their hands during the battle of hogwarts reaching for each other. when i saw that clip i got teary-eyed, thinking, oh! lupin and tonks! they’re going to show them fighting together, and they’ll probably have some really great lines and i will cry.  but they didn’t. their part was in the trailer almost entirely.  that was it. just a few seconds of them reaching out, they didn’t even touch hands. and we didn’t get to see them cast any spells, hit any death eaters, protect any innocents. just, hands reaching out, and then later, there they lie.  i really wanted to see more of the good guys fighting.  the battle of hogwarts focused on the trolls and spiders and death eaters and things getting blown up. why couldn’t we have seen just a few quick shots of people like mr. weasley or kingsley shacklebot or lupin or tonks or neville’s grandmother or any of the students fighting back valiently? a hero shot!

neville got lots of hero shots. and i loved every single one of them.

snape’s story got the attention it deserved-snape!  i always believed in snape!  i was most looking forward to his part.  i came the closest to crying then.  i physically jumped in my seat when the snake attacked. i wanted to cry at his memories so badly.  maybe i will next time. i though alan rickman was perfect.   but the memories went by very quickly, too, and were interspersed with these weird quotes and quick shots of other things, and i don’t remember noticing the music. was there music?  was it good?  oh, snape. my beautiful, brave snape.  i love you so much more than the arrogant and reckless harry.

*sigh*  whenever i finish reading book 7 i always think, “noooo! it can’t be over, i need more!”  so maybe my negative reactions are the same phenomenon translated to movie universe.  maybe it’s because anything that didn’t get wrapped up or included never will be, now.  maybe it was any of the reasons i’ve already stated.

i’ll watch it again and let you know.

 

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