In an article in the NY Times,
In an article in the NY Times,Warner Brothers (the studio that released the Harry Potter movies) is quoted as saying "One of our main objectives in bringing the Harry Potter films to the screen has been to remain as faithful to their original source material as created by J. K Rowling." The article itself is about all the drinking that happens in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which is a different topic for another post, but when I read it I had to stifle a chuckle.
Or maybe it was a gasp of annoyance.
Whatever. After seeing the movie last week, I'm not sure that anyone at Warner Brothers, especially the writers, has actually read any of the books. Maybe none of them are aware that the seventh and final book has been written and published and that they could, you know, read it too? I'm not sure. What I do know is that I had severely mixed feelings about the movie when I left the theater.
In a way, I loved it. I loved seeing Howarts again: the magic, the castle, the characters. I liked the development of Harry and Ginny's relationship, as well as Hermione's and Ron's. I liked that it had a more romantic sort of feel, since that is authentic with the age of the characters. I loved the scene in the underground lake, when Harry and Dumbledore try to get one of Voldemort's horcruxes. I enjoyed watching Malfoy's character and seeing him change from a stock adolescent-bully character to someone more three-dimensional. In fact, I could nearly agree with this excellent reviewthat Janssen told me about.
Except for one thing: they left too many important things out. I was thoroughly annoyed, for example, that Snape just throws out his "I am the half-blood prince" explanation before sprinting off into the darkness; how does he even know that Harry had his old potions book? The other review I read was exactly right; there wasn't enough development of the relationship between Harry and Dumbledore. This matters because at the end of the movie, when Dumbledore dies, it doesn't feel like the tremendous loss to Harry that it did in the books. But it also matters because there are enormous, gaping, huge holes left in the plot that I can't imagine how they'll fill when the Deathly Hallows movies are released. Ginny hides Harry's potion book, for example, in the room of requirement, not Harry, so he doesn't ever see the abandoned tiara that is actually one of the horcruxes. You don't ever see the ring with the broken stone that also has a huge importance in the next part of the story. The memory that Harry sees in the pensieve, explaining Voldemort's origins? Not in the movie, although his genealogy matters in The Deathly Hallows.
I keep going back to my original theory: the Harry Potter people are afraid of the Twilight people. That fear made the movie into something more teen-angsty than it really needed to be, and forced it to lose focus on the important parts of the story. Plus, while the writers don't seem to have read the books, but it's as if they're counting on the fact that you have read them. The plot holes can be filled in by you, the movie-goer, if you've read the books. That, to me, is the biggest failure of any movie that started out as a book. Of course the movie is an adaption of the book, and it is never going to exactly match the story each person read, because we all have so many different associations with words that affect how we imagine things. (The inside of Hagrid's cabin, for example, is, in my head, laid out exactly like my grandparents' apartment was, although with far more rustic accouterments.) I have come to understand that the movie interpretation is always something nearly entirely different than the book was, because it is a different medium with different rules and boundaries. But to leave such glaring gaps in the story is an entirely different thing. The setting, the casting, the character development: all of that was great. But the plot itself? If you hadn't read the books I don't know how it would have made any sense.
A few minutes after the movie ended, Kendell called to ask me if the movie had been good or not. I was initially enthusiastic. "I loved it!" I told him. But even in the post-coital-ish "I loved it!" reaction, I had a hesitation. I think I loved it not so much for the way the movie succeeded at telling a story, but because I loved being back in Harry Potter's world. That sense of being transported somewhere else is pleasant, to say the least. But that speaks more to the power of world-building than it does to how "good" the movie was. The more I think about it, the more disappointed I get.
But that's just my opinion. What's yours?