Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Back to reality

Last night we sat down and watched the final Harry Potter film again, but this time on DVD. "What do you want for Christmas?" H.I.'s daughter had asked me about a week ago, and I had - almost without hesitation - asked her for it.

I know I have banged on about Potter many times in the past, but I really think that it may be a few years before the true relevance and impact of the series of books and films becomes truly apparent - about the same time as it will take all the children who grew up alongside the kids in the films to reach the age when they can be voted into government - both Slitherins and Griffendors.

Watching the final Potter production has almost - almost - made me want to actually go back to the beginning and read the books. I have never read a single word of any of them. Goodness knows how I would have been affected if I were 9 years old when the first book was published.

Really, they are a grand psychological drama set in a form which is instantaneously made understandable to pre-adolescent children, and it unfolds as they unfolded until they arrived at the other end - battered but unbowed -to begin their lives as young adults.

Right from the beginning, the books and films were attacked from all sides, but the phenomena was just too huge to suffer any damage whatsoever. Unpublished writers attacked the books for being badly written - well they would say that, wouldn't they? Christians attacked them for being the works of the devil - likewise. The not-so-wealthy became horribly embittered and resentful toward the wonderful Jo Rowling, who has made quite a bit of money from her creation, but she remains as humble as it could possibly be about her success, and as dedicated and grateful to her following as she was before being published - or followed. Are the British the only nation in the world to resent the success of their more gifted or lucky peers?

As far as I am concerned, the two best of the films were placed in exactly the right order - the first and the last, with about 7 others in between, I think. Watching the last again last night, I still had not tired of it by the end, so watched the long 2nd disc of extras back to back.

I learned that they did not have to surgically remove Ralph Fiennes's nose for his part, but did so digitally instead for the sake of his future career. He spent the entire time on set with a rather fetching arrangement of coloured dots stuck to his face so that the boys on the computers knew where it was at any given time.

My God - what a job the boys on the computers did too! They were helped in equal measure by a small army of stunt-men and pyrotechnicians, all of whom said that you cannot beat the real thing when it comes to the sheer danger of giant explosions and fire-balls. When the Geeks turn a rolling fire-ball into a galloping tiger, that's when the magic is injected into the film.

The make-up artists were the best in the world too, turning real dwarves into real gnomes with latex and costumes - the youngest of the gnomes on set was about 3 years old - the son of another 'gnome' in real life! The two main make-up artists were attending to Robbie Coltrane in a trailer, when they mentioned their book entitled 'Actors We Have Met And Liked'. He asked to see it, and when he flicked through it, all the pages were blank.

The final scene of 'extras' was the farewell gathering in the set canteen, when all the actors and technicians who had spent over 10 years with each other every year, finally said goodbye and promised to keep in touch. Daniel Radcliffe burst into tears, setting everyone else off, and the three - now grown-up - kids hugged each other for perhaps the last time.

Some of the older, more well-established actors wondered what would happen to the three kids for the rest of their acting lives. Helena Bonham-Carter said, "'ll be alright, but I fear for them." Then she whispered to the crew inside her trailer, "Actually, I am trying to be the Queen Mother at the same time as being Bellatrix, but don't tell anyone..."

Back to reality?


  1. I'm a big Potter (movie) fan too Tom, and decided this past summer to try and read the books. Made it about half-way through the first one and just could not continue. These books were written for children...end of story.
    What's Rowling doing now, I wonder?

  2. I think that's the reason I have never tried to read them too, Jacqueline. Don't know about J.K. - relaxing a bit, maybe?

  3. Still not seen one I'm afraid. Is there one called 'Harry Potter and the Naughty Swedish Night Nurse'?

  4. HBC is renowned for being a loon!
    Having said this... she made for a cracking Queen Mum n THE KING'S SPEECH

  5. I've read every book cover to cover, and even shamelessly stood in line at midnight to buy them. I've only seen a few of the movies, which were good, but not nearly as good as the books in my opinion. They may have been written for children, but I suspect that I will always be a child at heart, so they suited me just fine. Now the LOTR trilogy, give me the movies over the books any 'ole day!

    Kat :)

  6. I do love the Harry Potter movies and do not know why some people just can't let a good thing be. Glad to know that Ralph Fiennes still has his nose. I had been wondering about it!

  7. Loved the books, loved the films. Is it me or was the last film really dark, as in I couldn't see what was going on half the time? Maybe I should have removed my sunglasses.

  8. Yes Sue, like you, I thought it was a bit too visually dark in a lot of places. When they shot it, almost all of it was done in daylight (apart from the explosive scenes when the main actors weren't around), and they adjusted the feel of the lighting digitally, using computers. In the same way as some films use too much real smoke for atmosphere in interior scenes, I think there was a bit too much darkness in Part 2 of the last Potter, which was SO atmospheric that it obliterated quite a lot of the action in places. I kept reaching for the 'brightness' switch.