I have a confession to make.
I kind of really like the Harry Potter movies.
(I just typed that with a scrunched-up face and one eye closed.)
When the Harry Potter hullabaloo started, I rolled my eyes. I continued rolling my eyes as J.K. Rowling wrote seven books out longhand in a cafe somewhere until she had amassed a fortune that could buy her her own Hogwart’s Castle. (NaNoWriMo peeps – you hate her, don’t you?) I rolled them while children and adults my own age and older sat up all night with a flashlight and a fake witch hat, plowing through the latest release in the series.
I rolled my eyes through the movie releases, too, by the way. And every time speculation popped up: “What will happen to Hermione? Will Dumbledore die? Is Snape in league with Voldemort?” I thought, Kids, I understand. I think it’s great that they’re reading. The adults though… the adults need to get a life.
Anyway, I never read the books.
Okay, fine, I read the first one, like seven years after it came out, because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about and I was looking for an entertaining escape that maybe didn’t involve the parsing of interpersonal relationships in adulthood. And I did enjoy it. But I never cared to read the second book. So… meh.
But now that these danged movies are on television all the live-long day, well, I’ve gotten a little bit sucked in. Just a little.
I haven’t seen any of the films all the way through yet. But that’s mostly because they’re on when I’m busy and ready to walk out the door. But I can already tell, oh, with that sense of say-it-isn’t-so, that it’s going to become a new holiday classic series. Like The Wizard of Oz and Home Alone (and its sequels) and the Lord of the Rings trilogy (which I also resisted valiantly), it’s destined to show up in those months of the year when I love curling up on my cozy couch with red wine or a cup of hot tea and a blanket and just indulging in childlike imagination and wonder.
But I’m super-picky about imagination. Which seems sort of counter-productive to the imaginative process. I don’t like sci-fi; in all my life, the only sci-fi films I’ve ever liked were the original Star Wars movies: Episodes IV, V and VI, which came out long before Episodes I, II and III ever did. I love those old Star Wars movies. Terrible acting, marginal special effects, groan-worthy dialogue and all. Love them. But that’s it. Not “Alien.” Not “Predator.” Not that awful amalgam of the two. Not “Star Trek” (TV or film incarnations) or anything involving robots or computer war games. Leaves me cold. Not interested.
And I’d never read a fantasy book, stuff about faeries (that’s how it has to be spelled, apparently, in fantasy-land) and elves and whatever… I’d never read those. Yet, give me some celluloid of munchkins and a green witch and some flying monkeys and talking lions and tin men, et al, and I’m sold.
Actually, I’ve never liked the flying monkeys. They scared me when I was a kid and to this day my least favorite scene in “The Wizard of Oz” is when the Wicked Witch is sending her minions out to get Dorothy’s friends.
But you take my point.
And Harry Potter looks to be my newest “comfort film” series. I’ve always allowed for the fantastic cast: Michael Gambon, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman (on whom I have the bizzarest of crushes), Maggie Smith (who reminds me of a lifelong friend of my family), Helena Bonham Carter… ridiculously good and wholeheartedly “in” on the game. But what I’m learning is that, aside from my growing love of British accents, I also love the colors, the richness of the visuals, the grandness of the cinematography, the fact that I can watch giant spiders run across the screen at Hermione and Harry and that redheaded kid whose name I can’t remember and I totally believe it.
I can’t actually watch the spiders. I hate spiders. Giant spiders, most of all.
But I kind of really like the rest of it. I love that I can retreat from reality and get absorbed in a fun, magical place where I can believe that anything is possible.
Ugh. I just threw up in my mouth.
Then again, I have very diverse taste. I mean, I’m writing this post while lounging on my couch, having just switched from a Piers Morgan interview of Gen. Colin Powell to an episode of “Sex and the City.” So maybe it’s okay that I can go from Ken Burns’ “Prohibition” to “American Horror Story.” One night I caught myself flipping between a PBS presentation of “La Boheme” and a football game.
And I have a very special place in my heart for movies that make me feel safe and happy and cozy, and particularly movies that show up around Thanksgiving and Christmas. And so it seems I am going to be sucked into the Vortex of Voldemort, the Black Hole of Hagrid, the Grandeur of Gryffindor… the Pull of Potter.
I’m just a muggle, after all. Powerless to resist.