|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows came out in theaters this weekend.
||[Nov. 21st, 2010|07:04 pm]
A Dedicated Follower of Fashion
Seriously? As I wrote that sentence, I became a little choked up. How stupid is that?|
Recently becoming the highest-grossing film franchise ever, the Harry Potter series of films is interesting to me in that it's one of the first full-throttle movie series that I experienced as a cognizant movie-watcher. Now, when I say that I want to be clear when I make that statement. Star Wars, sure. I was a huge fan of the Star Wars movies growing up, but of the three movies in the original trilogy, I was only alive for Return of the Jedi, and I was TWO. I wasn't an active participant in enjoying those movies as they were released. None of the anticipation, none of the excitement in seeing them on the big screen... I experienced my love of Star Wars based on home video, thanks much.
That's also not to say there weren't franchises going when I was growing up... but they were less focused, more scattershot. The Batman franchise takes up a tremendous part of my childhood, but each of those movies seems so disparate from one another that often they don't even seem to be taking place in the same universe. Even the original Batman and Batman Returns are so tonally different that they seem like two movies that happen to share an actor in a rubber Batsuit. There were a lot of movies which took this path- one good movie, then Hollywood awkwardly tried to cobble together a sequel out of contract promises with the original actors made before sequels were de rigueur. Ghostbusters, The Matrix, I'm looking in your general direction when I say this...
I guess what I'm saying is that for me, (again, let me say that, FOR ME) the Harry Potter movies were the first successful gambit made toward sustaining a narrative momentum over a body of big-budget films rather than making sequels piecemeal.
...and WHAT a body of work, man. Honestly, I am sure Hollywood will take a run at The Boy Who Lived again sometime in my lifetime. There's too much money to be made in repackaging, repurposing, and revisiting the world to let these movies stand on their own. Even with that knowledge, I think these flicks will stand the test of time.
Putting that aside, a small part of my feelings go back to the literary roots the movies grew from. I remember exactly where I was (summer, mid-afternoon, in an oppressively hot elementary school library) when I first encountered the Harry Potter books. I am one of millions who have a deep and abiding affection for the source material. As someone whose livelihood now rises and falls on the reading whims of young people, it's funny to look back and recognize how wonderful I thought the books were then, and that they remain so now.
I also read the Harry Potter books just before they because the absolutely crazy phenomenon in America, and there was a sense, however small, that the books were "mine" for a short while. Let me stress... this was a manner of weeks. I don't have any knowledge on this besides my own recollection, but I remember HP becoming HUGE during the summer Goblet of Fire hit bookstores, and I read Sorcerer's Stone maybe three weeks before that happened.
So yes, I'm a book nut and that's one reason I love the movies. It's wonderful to see them realized so wonderfully. Even the inconsistencies and truncation of the sprawling stories to fit a two-hour running time added to the fun. Who among us didn't have a nit to pick with the movies? I'm also a movie nut, and that's another reason I've enjoyed all the Harry Potter flicks. There is one other reason why thinking this is the end of the line for this franchise gets me all sentimental. When I think about these movies, I think about the people who were in my life when they came out... by and large, people who aren't in my life anymore and never will be.
I think about my college girlfriend and how we saw it together. We bought our tickets online, the first time I had ever done such a thing. We squeezed each other's hands every time something came on screen that we liked.
I think about not seeing the second flick with that girlfriend.
I think about seeing the third movie in a drive-in.
I think about seeing the fourth one in Times Square during the worst time of my life as a single guy.
I remember NOT seeing the fifth one in theaters, but attempting to no less than FOUR different times with Ellen. She was eight months pregnant with Elliot and we spent that entire summer in the movie theaters of Southern Ohio, drinking Slurpees and waiting for him.
That's actually kind of funny, now that I look at it- during every one of these movies are entwined with some major moment of my life. It's something I never thought about before, but seeing it on the page there is somewhat surprising.