Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Emma Watson's smirk is my favourite bit so far

I finally broke down and bought The Deathly Hallows, Part 1 on Blu Ray disc. Used of course. On for 30% off at Blockbuster. With another $11.00 or so deducted for an old gift card I had almost forgotten. So about $5. Not bad.

I've seen the movie about six times already but am looking forward to enjoying it again, and again, and again.

My favourite bit at this point: Emma Watson's facial expression in the scene when Ron votes for going to see Lovegood, shortly after he comes back to them in the Forest of Dean. Priceless.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Harry is with us all the time

It's amazing how many times Harry Potter pops up in every day life. Today, for example, I got involved in a discussion of some ceremonial coins the local university has decided to give to each graduate this year and someone said that it's a great idea, as long as you can use them to communicate with other graduates like Dumbledore's Army did with Hermione's special Galleons.

And in another discussion, several of us agreed that there is a certain feeling of calmness you can achieve even in the most dire situations if you know that there is nothing you can do to change the outcome, a serenity like Harry finds as he walks into the Forbidden Forest to die under Voldemort's wand.

These comparisons came up naturally each time. And were made by others, not me. It's amazing how much J.K.'s world has insinuated itself into our own lives and world.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Recognising Rowling's interesting writing techniques

It's interesting to be reading J.K.'s first novel again, but this time in French. Because I'm not fluent, I'm forced to read more slowly and to pay a great deal more attention to the words.

Sounds funny, doesn't it? But I'm finding it a very worthwhile exercise because I'm seeing things, recognising strategies J.K. is using, that I had never really noticed before. For example, she does a wonderful job of pre-introducing characters, often long before they become regular parts of Harry's life.

McGonagall, Dumbledore and Hagrid all appear early at Privet Drive, then disappear for several chapters. Harry encounters Draco Malfoy in Madam Malkin's robe shop and then doesn't see him again until the Hogwarts Express. And Quirrell makes a similar appearance: at the Leaky Cauldron during Harry's first visit to Diagon Alley and then, chapters later, at the opening feast at Hogwarts.

It's a useful strategy because it gives the reader a feeling of familiarity with the character when they start to take on a larger role in the story.

It also highlights J.K.'s other neat strategy: she usually introduces a characteristic (either a physical or behavioural marker) by which the character will be recognised whenever he or she appears later. For example, Draco is known by his pale skin and his nose, the Weasleys are all recognisable by their red hair with Ron's long nose an extra marker, while Hermione has the infamous bottle-brush hair and big teeth.

Rowling is then careful to repeat the description each time the character re-appears on the scene.

This is a highly effective strategy since it gives the reader more than one way to remember the character. In fact, we are probably more likely to remember the witch with the stern face and tight bun than we are to remember the name "McGonagall", at least at the start.

It sort of reminds me of the way ancient Greek epic poets used to assign similar trademark descriptions to characters to help us remember them. I've never forgotten "the winged-footed Achilles" from my high school classes!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How will Harry find the diadem in the final film?

Help me to understand this.

In the novel The Half-Blood Prince, Harry hides his potions book inside a cabinet in the Room of Requirement and marks the place where he put it by placing a strange sculpture and a rusty tiara on top of the cabinet. This is important because, at the climax of The Deathly Hallows, Harry remembers hiding his potions book and, more specifically, recalls that he used a tiara to mark the spot, a tiara which he then realises is actually the lost diadem of Ravenclaw. This diadem, of course, is a Horcrux.

In the movie version of The Half-Blood Prince, on the other hand, Ginny hides the book while Harry keeps his eyes closed, so he won't be tempted to go looking for it again. Harry never sees the tiara nor does he use it to mark the spot where the book is hidden.

So how are they going to deal with this in the final film? How are they going to explain how Harry suddenly knows where the diadem is?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Seven weeks until part two

Seven weeks until the release of the final film. I am so psyched.

I expect it will be non-stop action: the break in at Gringotts, then the battle of Hogwarts. And I expect we will see every character, major and minor, from the first seven movies.

It should be an absolute riot!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Harry shows his stripes

J.K. does such a wonderful job at the start of the first book in depicting Harry's excitement at finding out he's a wizard and his fear that he won't fit into his new world.

The scene between Harry and the yet-unnamed blond-haired boy (Draco Malfoy) in the robe shop is especially effective in conveying a number of layers of Harry's personality. He's excited to have escaped the Dursleys and to be a part of a magical world, he's in a state of shock to find himself with a pocketful of gold, and he's fearful that this exciting new world might reject him.

Even so, he very quickly recognises that Draco is not the kind of person he wants as a friend and, even though Draco makes him feel quite ill-informed about the magical world, Harry is quite willing to stand up to him and challenge the nasty comments Draco makes about Hagrid.

This is really the first scene where we start to recognise Harry's courage and moral core. He proves himself a true Gryffindor even before we know what a Gryffindor is!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Hagrid Flies? Really?

I've often wondered about this and it has struck me again as I read J.K.'s first book in French. When Harry asks Hagrid how he got to the rock in the middle of the sea to deliver Harry's Poudlard (Hogwarts) letter to him, Hagrid tells Harry he flew there.

J.K. never explains how Hagrid flew there.

He could not have come on a broom for two reasons: first, he doesn't bring a broom back to London and, second, it is explained in a later novel that Hagrid is too heavy for a broom.

He could not have come via Sirius' motorbike (upon which Hagrid had flown the infant Harry to Privet Drive in the first place) since he would have had to leave it on the rock when he takes Harry away with him on the boat.

He could not have apparated there, since Hagrid is never shown to have mastered Apparition, he was kicked out of Hogwarts in his third year before he could have taken lessons and earned his Apparition license, and, besides, Apparition requires a fully functioning wand. Hagrid's was broken in half when he was forced to leave school.

Since it is established in The Deathly Hallows that only Voldemort can fly on his own (several members of the Order tell the others with amazement that "Voldemort can fly" after the Death Eaters ambush the seven Harrys), it would seem to me that there are only three possible explanations as to Hagrid's claim that he had flown to the rock in the sea:

1) He flew in on a Hippogriff or Thestral, which delivered Hagrid and then flew away again. I wonder if either a Hippogriff or a Thestral would be strong enough to carry Hagrid, however;

2) He was taken there by someone else via Side-Along Apparition, though I don't understand why that person wouldn't have stayed to talk to Harry; or

3) Hagrid is not being truthful about how he got to the rock.

It's one of the few details in the entire Harry Potter series that doesn't make sense to me, that doesn't seem to follow Rowling's usually consistent rules for the wizarding world.

I know. I'm probably holding J.K. to too high a standard: this is the first book and it's likely she hadn't quite worked out all of the details of her magical world at this point.

More on flying tomorrow.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Use the Force, Harry

Does anyone else see the similarities (the many many similarities) between Harry Potter's life story and that of Luke Skywalker, from Star Wars? Both were apparently orphaned in their infancy, both were raised by their aunt and uncle far away from the world of their parents, both were gifted with great powers that they didn't even know they had.

In both their cases, their aunt and uncle tried to keep them from escaping to their parent's world. In both their cases, they were taken under the wing of an older father-figure, who trained them to use their powers and helped them to understand their past.

I can even see parallels between the Harry, Ron, Hermione trio and the Luke, Han and Leia group. This similarity was brought into clear focus in The Deathly Hallows when Harry, channeling Luke, explains to a distraught and jealous Ron that he loves the female heroine (with Hermione standing in for Leia) like a sister and nothing more. Leia, of course, turns out actually to be Luke's sister but the scene in The Deathly Hallows after Ron finally destroys the locket Horcrux strongly recalls the Star Wars storyline.

I can point out for you a lot more parallels but I think you get the picture. This is no criticism of J.K.; it's just an interesting parallel between the two epic stories.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How do you say "Hogwarts" in French?

I'm well into the french translation of The Philosopher's Stone, though in French it's called Harry Potter a L'ecole des Sorciers which translates into "Harry Potter at the School for Sorcerors".

I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the novel is just as fun and exciting in French as it is in English.

I feel entitled to feel surprised, though, that the translator, Jean-Francois Menard, has chosen to "translate" some of J.K.'s made up words as well. For example, "Hogwarts" has been changed to "Poudlard" and "Muggles" is "Moldus" in French.

Menard could have simply left them as is: not changed them at all. After all, "Harry" is still "Harry". And I'm told by French-speaking friends that neither "Poudlard" nor "Moldus" has any real meaning in French, at least no meanings that are related to the novels.

Interesting.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Harry's battle with the dragon is well presented on film

Speaking of The Goblet of Fire, I have to admit, I love the way the filmmakers handled the beginning and ending of Harry's battle with the dragon in the first task of the Tri-Wizard's Cup.

I'm not fond of the over-long middle part, where the dragon chases him all over the rooftops of Hogwarts, but I think the opening scenes (until Harry leaps aboard his Firebolt) and the final bit (where the anxious crowd suddenly cheers as Harry zooms into view over the edge of the stadium) are expertly done.

I thought J.K.'s version of how Harry outsmarted the dragon was a more clever fictional creation (Harry lures her carefully away from the golden egg then, when she's far enough away, speeds past her and grabs the egg), I can understand why the filmmakers decided to revise the scene to make it more visually exciting.

They've created a genuinely heart-stopping battle between boy and dragon, even if they go a little overboard in the middle section. And they manage to capture the anxiety of the crowd really well too.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Emma Watson's wonderful moment (number 1)

Continuing in the theme of movie scenes that I particularly like, I just watched The Goblet of Fire again. It's not my favourite of the films but it is also not the worst of them.

The scene I really love from it, however, comes right at the end. Cedric Diggory is dead, Voldemort lives and Harry and his friends are getting ready to return to their homes unsure of what the future will have in store for them.

As Harry, Hermione and Ron meet up again on the grounds of the school, Hermione lags behind them, thoughtful, in a stone archway. When Harry and Ron turn around to see if she's okay, Hermione says in a pained voice, "Everything is going to change now, isn't it?"

Harry takes a couple of steps toward her, touches her arm and says, "Yes", in a matter-of-fact voice, with a decisive nod.

And then Hermione pulls herself together and nods back before rejoining the conversation about their plans for the summer.

Emma Watson plays the scene perfectly, with just enough fear in her voice at first, then making a visible effort to accept the truth and be brave in the face of it. Watson becomes one of the strongest performers in later films and I think that transformation, that maturity as an actor, starts in this scene.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Luna's great thestral scene

With the final film now on the horizon (less than two months left to wait), I have been thinking lately of some of my favourite scenes from the movies. I don't always like what they do to J.K.'s novels when they write the scripts but they do manage to come up with some great stuff from time to time.

One scene that leaps to mind is the one in The Order of the Phoenix where Harry finds Luna Lovegood, barefoot in the forest, feeding the mysterious Thestrals. Luna tells Harry that she and her father believe him when he says that Voldemort has returned and, when he responds by saying that they might be the only ones who do believe him, Luna gives a lovely answer.

She says something like, "I guess that's how he wants you to feel. Because, if you're all alone, you're not as much of a threat". Evanna Lynch plays the scene beautifully (as she does all her scenes) and the message worms its way into Harry's brain.

It's a great scene. One of my favourites in the movies. More great scenes tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rowling's Shakespearean Ending

After publishing my post last night, I sat down and finished reading the rest of The Deathly Hallows. I just love the ending. Yes, there is action but J.K. is brave enough, smart enough to insert two extended periods of rest, both for her characters and her readers.

First, there is the trip through Snape's memories, that important montage of scenes that help Harry and us see just how harrowing and courageous a life Snape has led. It's an important point in the novel and helps us to understand both Snape and Dumbledore better.

Second, there is the scene in the mythical version of King's Cross station, where Harry meets up with Dumbledore himself, just after Harry has tried to let Voldemort kill him. Another important scene, both from the standpoint of explaining a number of plot points and of helping us to see both characters - Harry and Dumbledore - more clearly.

I found this structure, this willingness on the part of the author to break up the intensity of the action in this way, to be quite Shakespearean in nature when I first read the novel. And it works in so many ways, making the action scenes even more effective, even more breathtaking than they would be on their own.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Savouring the end of The Deathly Hallows

Okay, here's where I am. Harry has just reviewed Snape's memories, he's told Neville to kill Nagini if Neville gets the chance and he's walking into the Forbidden Forest to fulfill his destiny and die under the wand of the Dark Lord.

I have forced myself to put the book down and take a break. I've read it probably ten times already and I've listened to the audiobook several times as well. But I want to take a moment to savour...

That's long enough. Back to the exciting conclusion of The Deathly Hallows!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ron's Redemption

In The Philosopher's Stone, Ron Weasley played a wicked game of Wizard's Chess to get Harry one step closer to the Stone itself. In The Chamber of Secrets, Ron drove the flying car to get Harry to Hogwarts after they missed the train.

Between those two instances of heroics and Ron's rescuing Harry from drowning in the Forest of Dean in The Deathly Hallows, however, what does he really do to contribute to the battle against evil?

Not much.

I'm glad J.K. gave Ron a chance to redeem himself in the final novel because, for much of the series, he was more comic relief than anything else. While Harry and Hermione continually made real contributions to the fight against the Dark Lord and his minions, Ron did very little.

So it's good that he comes through in the end. Otherwise, he'd be less a hero than a bit of a joke.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ron Weasley gives himself away

I've just gotten to the part of The Deathly Hallows where, having learned that Ginny, Neville and Luna had broken into the headmaster's office to try to steal the Sword of Gryffindor, Harry and his two companions have their first conversation with the portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black that Hermione took from the house on Grimmauld Place.

I find this an interesting conversation. When Phineas calls Ginny a "silly girl", Ron immediately tells him to "shut up about my sister". A natural response, to be sure, but also a real bonehead move on Ron's part. Here they have gone to great lengths to protect the Weasley family from persecution by convincing the entire wizarding world that Ron is home sick from school (and NOT hunting Horcruxes with Harry) and Ron goes and blows his own cover with that single exclamation.

What I've realised is that this should have been a clue to me as a reader that Snape is not evil after all. Ron gives himself away to Phineas, who is in contact with Snape and yet there are no negative repercussions to Ron or his family. Had I been reading the book carefully the first time, this fact (as well as the fact that Snape sent Ginny, Neville and Luna to Hagrid for their punishment, knowing Hagrid is a member of the Order of the Phoenix), should have been enough to make me wonder if Snape was really as evil as he was presented to be.

Too bad I was so caught up in the excitement of the novel to notice these hints. I guess that means J.K. did a good job writing the book, doesn't it?

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Deathly Hallows Hits Hard Early

Hedwig is dead. Mad-Eye's been killed. Harry's gone nose to nose with the Minister for Magic and the wedding is about to be crashed by Death Eaters.

Wow, the first 150 pages of The Deathly Hallows are intense. I remember reading the book for the first time and thinking, when Rowling killed off Harry's snowy owl so casually in the early going, "She's not pulling any punches in this book; it's going to be a bumpy ride".

It was like the death of Hedwig acted as an early warning that the book would be dark and violent. I'm trying to force myself to read slowly this time, to savour every word, rather than getting caught up in the plot and tearing through the book.

I can't guarantee that's going to last. Rowling really rolls in this novel.

Harry versus Remus

One of the things that I like about Rowling's writing is that she pulls no punches. She has a good understanding of what makes her characters tick and isn't afraid to introduce conflict, even between characters who genuinely like each other.

Like the scene about a third of the way through The Deathly Hallows where a desperate Remus Lupin shows up at Grimmauld Place to offer his services to Harry, Hermione and Ron. J.K. recognised that this offer, though genuinely made, would inspire a very negative reaction in Harry, who realistically focuses more on Lupin as a father abandoning his wife and child rather than on Lupin as powerful ally.

It's a tough scene to read and, again, J.K. refuses to take the easy way out when she describes the reactions of Ron and Hermione to Harry's outburst at Lupin. These are people under a great deal of stress and emotions are going to run high.

But she's absolutely right that Harry would put a father's duty to his family over anything else.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Seen the Movies, Not Read the Books!

I have a friend who has watched all of the Harry Potter movies avidly. She owns them on DVD and enjoys them a lot. She loves to talk about the stories and the characters and the places.

But she's never read a single one of J.K. Rowling's novels.

Weird, eh? She's very excited about the coming of the eighth and final movie but she told me she has avoided looking for anything about it on-line for fear of spoilers: she has no idea what's going to happen and how things will end.

It's like she's caught in a time warp. How can anyone not know what happens at the end of The Deathly Hallows? Especially someone who is interested in Harry Potter?

And yet, in a way, I envy her. She's going to start reading the books after seeing the final film. She has ahead of her the absolute thrill and wonder of reading J.K.'s novels for the first time. I remember the incredible anticipation I felt while waiting for the seventh book to be published, the excitement I enjoyed while finally getting to read it.

She's got all that ahead of her. She's weird but lucky.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Answering My Own Question

That just shows how carefully I read. Or maybe it says something about my memory.

A couple of posts ago I asked the question: whom did Tom Riddle murder to create the Horcrux in the diary? I speculated that it might have been the girl whose death was blamed on the monster hidden in the Chamber of Secrets during Riddle's (and Hagrid's) tenure at Hogwarts.

Well, surprise, surprise. J.K. answered that question clearly and unequivocally in The Half-Blood Prince. Riddle killed his Muggle father and grandparents when he was 16.

How did I not remember that?

It just goes to show how detailed and complex Rowling's magical world is. Over the course of the seven novels, she really did cover it all.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Some Thoughts on the Last Movie

I spent some time last night watching the trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 on the internet. I am very excited about the premiere of this last film in the series in mid-July and wanted to get an early idea of what they filmmakers have done with the second half of Rowling's epic seventh novel.

Here's what I liked:
1. It looks like they're actually going to include Harry's trip through Snape's memories after Voldemort kills Severus. I had worried, after their disinclination to show most of the memories about Voldemort in The Half-Blood Prince, that they would cut this important vindication of Harry's longtime nemesis but the trailer clearer shows Lily and Petunia as girls, an important scene from Snape's childhood;
2. The action scenes in Gringott's and later in the Room of Requirement appear to be vividly evoked;
3. They don't seem to have pulled any punches when it comes to the Battle for Hogwarts, which should be spectacular;
4. Molly Weasley's duel with Bellatrix Lestrange seems to be included, one of my favourite developments late in the novel; and
5. Neville still gets to grab some glory for himself by killing Nagini with the Sword of Gryffindor (this information comes from one of the promotional photographs I've seen, not the trailer itself).

Things I wonder about, however, include:
1. The fact that it looks like they've taken the final duel between Harry and Voldemort outside; I liked the fact that Harry's showdown with the Dark Lord takes place, in the book, in the Great Hall in front of a large crowd of people, with Harry and Voldemort circling each other warily;
2. The fact that it looks like the movie makers have surrendered to the temptation to make that final duel spectacular, with lots of fire works, rather than following J.K.'s very satisfying, appropriate approach from the book: now that Harry and friends have eliminated all of the Horcruxes and now that Harry knows he is the true master of the Elder Wand, the final duel is almost an afterthought. It's all over with a single spell and elegant simplicity;
3. The strange scene in the trailer where Harry and Voldemort are arm in arm, standing above a precipice, and Harry says something like, "Let's end it Tom the way it started: the two of us together" and then launches both of them into the abyss. I don't have perfect recall of the final book but I cannot fathom where this goes and what it's meant to represent.

I'm sure there's much more I could say at this point but let's leave it at this: the last movie looks like it's going to be a blast. Not perfect but pretty thrilling nonetheless.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Pair of Dynamic Trios

I've often wondered about the Harry, Hermione and Ron group of characters: the hero, the intellect and the humanist. On many occasions in J.K.'s books, Harry finds himself attempting to deal with new information, a new development, in the absence of Ron and Hermione and he just can't do it. He needs to speak to them to work things through. Sure, he's often forced to act on his own (he faces Quirrell on his own, he takes on the Basilisk by himself, he faces the challenges in the Tri-Wizard Tournament without help) but Rowling makes it clear that he's at his best with his two friends at his side.

In fact, it is this ability to have friends, to love, that finally sets Harry up as being capable of defeating Voldemort.

I like this aspect of the novels and the development of the characters but I can't help comparing it to another trio of fast friends who played very similar roles in their own adventures: Kirk, Spock and McCoy of the original Star Trek series.

Kirk, like Harry, was the hero, the man of action. Spock was the intellect, like Hermione, the one who had superior skills and knowledge but seemed to lack the passion to be entirely effective. McCoy, meanwhile, could always be counted on to bring a more human approach to the situation, never afraid to show fear, compassion, humour. Like Ron.

I don't know if anything fantastic comes from the comparison. But I do find it interesting.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Harry Potter at Beauxbatons?

I've recently come upon the idea of trying to improve my French by reading my favourite books in their French-language translations. Imagine my surprise (and pleasure) at finding the first two Harry Potter novels, in French, at our local used book store, the Owl's Nest, for about a third of the cover price!

And in perfect condition, I might add.

I snapped them up. Both Harry Potter a l'ecole des sorciers and Harry Potter et la chambre des secrets are translated by Jean-Francois Menard and published by Gallimard Jeunesse. Each features a really neat cover painting by Jean-Claude Gotting, as you can see in the photo.

Now I can enjoy Harry Potter in numerous different forms: the books in English, the movies in English, the books in English on CD and the books in French. I'll have to see if my Blu-Ray copies of the movies have French soundtracks too.

But don't worry, from what I can see, the French version of the books don't have Harry and his friends attending Beauxbatons! It's still Hogwarts all the way.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Art of The Half-Blood Prince

I've finally completed my reading of The Order of the Phoenix, having thoroughly enjoyed the final interaction between Harry and Dumbledore at the end. Now I'm onto The Half-Blood Prince, the book that has been broadly panned for being merely a set up for the final novel.

Problem is, I have grown to enjoy the sixth novel very much. I think it is the best written of the seven. Rowling makes it interesting without imbuing the story with the heart-stopping action of the other books.

The first two chapters of the novel send a clear message that something new is afoot. Harry Potter appears in neither of them. The first is a vivid scene told from the point of view of the Muggle Prime Minister, who is dealing with a string of disasters and a visit from the new Minister For Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour.

The second chapter involves Narcissa Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange and Severus Snape. Both are very well written but very different from each other. In the first, Rowling speaks from a particular point of view, that of the Muggle, while in the second, her narrator is much less subjectively placed, following the interactions between the three characters in an almost objective fashion.

It's writing at an exceptionally high, surprisingly adult level. It sends a message that the Harry Potter series has come of age.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Harry and friends walk into a trap

Harry, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny and Luna have just arrived at the Ministry to find that they've walked into a trap. Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix Lestrange and a host of Death Eaters are waiting for them with wands ready.

After almost 600 pages of pure hell getting through Umbridge at Hogwarts, this fifth book has an amazingly exciting ending. It's only too bad that the film version, for all the wonder of its climactic scene, can't capture the complexity of the emotions, even of the action itself, presented in Rowling's book.

I watch the movies too often and read the books too seldom. Must rectify that mistake.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Who Died to Create the Diary Horcrux?

Voldemort created his first Horcrux, the Diary, while he was still Tom Riddle and attending Hogwarts. Who did he kill to create it?

Anybody know? Is it anywhere in the books? I can't find it. The best I can guess is that Tom Riddle murdered the young muggle-born girl when the Chamber of Secrets was first opened up and the Basilisk took the blame for her death.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Fifth Book's the Hardest

In preparation for the release of the eighth movie this summer, I am re-reading J.K. Rowling's seven novels, in order, from start to finish. It's a ritual I began to follow when I was anxiously awaiting the release of the sixth book several years ago. Each time a new novel or movie was scheduled for release, I'd re-read the entire series to remind myself of the magnificence of J.K.'s art.

I'm now well into the fifth novel, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I have to admit: I always approach this book with a lot of trepidation. I find it the toughest of the seven novels to read, by far.

Why? Because J.K. does such a fantastic job of depicting Harry's isolation and the claustrophobia of his life at Hogwarts during the Umbridge year. I actually find myself getting angry and upset reading this book, both for and at Harry. I have to remind myself over and over again that he's still a kid at this point, that it cannot be easy at all to be going through what he's facing.

I hate and love this book, both at the same time. I hate it because it is such an emotional trial to read. I love it because, well, it takes some fantastic writing to make a reader react so strongly to the story.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Weasley Homestead

I'm trying to figure out what screen-writer Steven Kloves and director David Yates have against the Weasley homestead, commonly known as "The Burrow".

First, in a completely invented scene in the film version of The Half-Blood Prince, they have Bellatrix and her pals burn the place down. If that's not bad enough, in the movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, they have several characters (like Mad-Eye Moody) call the place "The Burrows", plural.

In an interesting contradiction, some characters call it by its singular name and others by its new plural name, both in the film and in the special features that come with the Blu-Ray version of the movie.

Strange. J.K. refers to it, consistently and without exception, as "The Burrow" across all six books in which it is mentioned (I don't find any mention of the Weasley home, at least not be name, in The Philosopher's Stone). Why change it in the film?

Oh, which reminds me, from what I understand, the first novel in the series is called Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in just about every English-speaking country in the world except the United States: so why do the British producers refer to it constantly as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (the American title) in the Blu-Ray extras?

By the way, I recently picked up the French version of the first novel and I think the direct translation of the French title is Harry Potter at the School for Magic. Neat.