Perhaps It Was Inevitable

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.


20 thoughts on “Perhaps It Was Inevitable

      • I swear there was no interest ever. I happened to be at work, as we are .. and at that time I was working with children and young people developing a training package in improving communication.

        I thought I should prehaps try and practice what I was teaching – listening to our C & YP, engaging with them in their interests…..

        like I said… 12 minutes.. thats it… just 12.

        I later made it up to my 17 year old young consultants by buying them pizza, and explaining that I was on the verge of being sick (Not providing any reason for my illness)

  1. Haha! I started reading the books just as #3 was about to come out, and I was hooked from the first one. A co-worker (I worked at a toy store at the time) asked me if I had read Harry Potter and I didn’t know what she was talking about. I will admit that, had I come into it at the bloom of the HP craze, I would have resisted too, but I started reading them just before everything totally exploded. As it was, I was captivated by the magic and adventure, and I thought the writing was good, too. But I’m a sucker for all that fantasy stuff, anyway. In that first book, I just loved the newness and wonder of that world for me, the candles suspended in midair in the great hall, magic!, the boat ride across the lake…all that shit :). I ate it up.

    As I’ve gone through the series, though, I love the overall arch of the stories, the battle between good and evil, how the bad guy ultimately fulfills the prophecy in his attempt to thwart it, being willing to die for the greater good, friendship and family and courage and all that jazz. Plus it’s just fun.

    PS: That red-headed kid is named Ron.

    • Well, way to give it all away, Stoney. Ha! Nah, I think you’d have to live under a rock not to know the story in the generalities you presented. I still don’t know which beloved character died in the last book. Don’t tell me. I’m starting to care. Ugh. And thanks for Ron’s name.

  2. I’m a sucker for the books, but not the movies. Like so many other things. I believe timing is everything, and I read the first book in the series back in 1999 when I had to lay-off a bunch of people. The escapism was JUST what I needed, and I was hooked, finding Hogwarts preferable to reality. Separately, I put JK Rowling in the same category as Oprah: people whose success annoys me because I want it.

    • Well… yeah. I can see why you would have wanted to escape to a land of magical make-believe. I think you’re right about timing. I guess in my case it’s about timing, too. Sometimes timing is just…seasonal, for me. Epic, rich, magical film in November? Yes please!

  3. We must have all been watching the same cable channel this weekend. I tried to read the first book and couldn’t get into it. I decided to wait for the movie. Then there was another book, another movie, another book, and on and on and on . . . And I still haven’t seen an entire movie, nor read one of the books. And here I thought I was the only living person on earth (and a teacher, at that) who hadn’t read/seen any of them. All is not lost, I DVR’ed them all this weekend!

  4. I know a ton of adults who resisted the books for a long time and eventually got sucked in. I love the series and have read them twice, but I actually don’t think Book 1 is great. The manuscript was rejected many times before she found a publisher. I imagine they saw some incredibly imaginative ideas but the writing and pacing could have been better. But as the books progress she becomes an outstanding writer.

    • Funny… a friend of mine had lent me books 3 and 4 and I never opened them. I gave them back to her months later when I realized it was never going to happen. Now you’re telling me they probably would have gotten me hooked…? Not that I wanted to be hooked. Well I kind of did. But not. I just wanted to understand. I don’t know. Shut up.

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