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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Harry Potter Retrospective Finale

Ok then, time for a few last words about the Harry Potter series before going back to comics and comic book movies.

If it hasn't been clear by now, I don't know how that would be possible, I absolutely love this book series. What a great way of being introduced to both books and fantasy. It's overall well-written (how well written it is probably up for debate), it includes a nice combination of fairly original ideas along with conventions/clich├ęs/whatever you want to call them and best of all it created a massive community between all the fans giving all these bookshy youngsters people to share the experience with. Now, I probably haven't made myself as much a part of that community as I could've but the times that I have interacted with large groups of it have been fun, though I'm not including a certain asinine boot-throwing contest into that statement. But it's been fun to share stuff like mourning Dumbledore's passing, standing in line until midnight for the last book and recently playing a watered down version of quidditch with other HP fans. I makes me wonder whether I should join in the fun a bit more. Oh well.

As for the series itself. I most likely view it a bit through the ever rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia. But that doesn't really mean anything other than that I have a natural fondness for it nad it most certainly does not blind me to the fact that it does have flaws. The first six books are indeed formulaic, plot devices, deus ex machina and other similair things often end up saving the day and one can very much question why the school insists on keeping a house that has fostered primarily evil wizards open. There are other things but these three are the ones off the top of my head.

Of course it has flaws, there's nothing that doesn't have flaws. We all love things in-spite of and, often, because of the flaws that they have. And in the case of things like Harry Potter it's always fun to defend flaws like the ones above just to show how big of a nerd you are. For example...

The Slytherin house is still up and running mainly out of respect for one of the founders of Hogwarts. Yes, history says that Salazar Slytherin left the school after a disagreement and battle with Gryffindor regarding how the place should be run but how much can we really trust history. It's possible that Slyhterin left not because he was thrown out by his peers but rather that he left so that the disagreement between him and the other founders wouldn't ruin the school and deprive children of a capable school. This is very much speculation but there must be a reason why Gryffindor, Rawenclaw and Hufflepuff never shut down the fourth house after its founder left. Personally I like to think that the reason is because Slytherin wasn't all bad. Yes, he held people with pure wizard blood in higher regard than muggle born children. That makes him elitist and arrogant and probably not a very fun person to hang out with at parties unless you really know him. But it doesn't mean that he's evil. Hell, that's one of the more basic points of Snape's story. Negative personlity traits doesn't equal evil. However, I can't figure out why he decided to hide a giant monster-snake of death in the school.

It's likely that history and anti-muggle people like Voldemort have exaggerated these traits of Slytherin simply because they're the only ones that they know for a fact to be true and thus Slytherin's house got a reputation for being evil and children are largely the product of their surroundings. Going to house that everybody around you calls evil and hanging out with others that have subjected to the same attitude along with lots of pure blood pride is going to have a certain effect on you. That said, history apparently does have it on record that lots of evil wizards do come from Slytherin and there's probably a case that could be made about them turning out better in other house. Which brings us back to the whole respect for Salazar Slytherin thing. The three other founders thought it was a good idea to leave Slytherin's house intact and history has most likely twisted his views on the blood and it's not certain that Voldemort for example would've turned out better if he had gone to Hufflepuff. Slytherin's house has every right to remain and neither it nor Salazar can be blamed for the action of those than live in it.

See, I can do the same with not only flaws but also just about everything in the series as well. That if anything shows how much I love all of Harry Potter.

I suppose that I should say something about the last movie as well. I liked it a lot. It fit most of the major events and characters into the the whole thing, though I would've like to see more of the entire Weasley family. It's really a long Lord of the Rings style war scene, only with wizards instead of sword weilding humans, elves, dwarfs and orcs, that takes up most of the screen time and it's really well done. Impressively they somehow managed to make Neville Longbottom even more badass than he was in the book, and I approve of the out of canon shipping that the movie gives him. One major flaw however is that the movie removes the whole thing that makes Dumbledore much more human towards the end. You know, the thing that I kind praised in my previous post. I missed that a lot. And the flash-forward was kind of cheesy, though I think that's because it lacked the words of the written novel that really made the whole thing feel poignant.

Speaking of the ending, to the series that is. I like that it's a largely happy ending. I reject the notion that happiness isn't interesting, but that's a debate for another post.

Before I leave I'm gonna nerd out with three short lists here just because I can.

Top three characters
1. Severus Snape
2. Ginny Weasley
3. Albus Dumbledore

Top three movies
1. Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
2. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows part 2
3. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix

Top Seven Harry Potter Books
1. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
2. Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
3. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
4. Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince
5. Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets
6. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
7. Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone

And that, as they say, is a wrap. I've pretty much said everything I wish to say about the series that changed the way I view books and broadended my mind's horizon by several degrees. Yeah, it's ended both in book form and movie form. But that's not the end. It's just the stepping stone for us all to view the old thing with new eyes. It's a series I'll return to time and time again simply for the sheer pleasure of it all. But for now it's time that I put it away and let it rest from my scrutiny so that I can enjoy it all the more when I return to it the next time.

Thank you J. K. Rowling for writing these books and, once again, thank you mom for introducing them to me. My life is that much richer because of it.

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