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Harry P vs Evil V

The picture was taken at Vizag beach a few months ago – I promise that I had not placed my subjects under a “freezing spell”. Now that I have got the tenuous connection between this picture and the content of today’s post out of the way, let me get down to the nub of the matter.

Standing outside the Symphony theatre at 9:45 in the evening, I eagerly awaited the opening of the cinema’s door to allow me in. I wasn’t alone. The night show on Sunday – just like the past shows of the day, had sold out. And so, kindred, Harry Potter seeking souls were close at hand. As people from the 7:00 PM show started streaming out, I examined their faces closely to see if they would betray a thing or two about the movie. They only spoke of descending mercury (evenings in Bangalore these days are rather nippy), pending dinner and impending sleep; the children amidst the crowd looking exceptionally dazed. The fourth installment of the Harry Potter movie has been awarded a U/A certificate by the censor board of India - the equivalent of a PG 13 (if I am not mistaken). A printout of the certificate was prominently stuck on one of the glass doors – no doubt, to inform parents of the unsuitability of the movie for anyone not yet muddled by pubescent hormones. A rule is one thing, its enforcement another. Children keen to watch the movie meant business with a capital B and the guard at the theatre doors knew it all too well. Their age was overlooked, or perhaps mentally padded to meet the censor bar. Once the crowd from the previous show had cleared, people (myself included) started growing restless. When we were finally let in, I couldn’t help notice that the kid in the blue t-shirt, who led the pack of eager grown-ups; but for his dark hair, resembled Malfoy.

The moment I had assumed my chair in the “Rear Stall” someone behind me politely urged me to slip down into my chair a bit. My head was obstructing the gentleman’s view of the screen. In line with the general bonhomie that prevailed in the theatre in anticipation of the movie, I smiled and complied (and muttered to myself – “thank God I am not a giraffe”). The moment the title of the movie was projected onto the big screen, the hall broke into a loud applause. “What was that!?” quipped my friend. “Globalization” said I succinctly.

It was obvious from the very first frame of the movie that its screenplay had little or no intention of being true to the book. What the (insert your favorite expletive here) was Barty Crouch doing at the ‘Riddle House’?

As the movie progressed I realized that there are characters and magical creatures in the book that’ll go missing altogether from the screen. The cinematic avatars of Blast-Ended Skrewts and Winky were sorely missed. This unfortunate consequence of having to squeeze 700 pages of rich, detailed piece of fiction into an under 3 hr screenplay is expected and accepted. What I don’t get is why these movies deviate so blatantly from the course of the book when they don’t need to. For instance, Longbottom is shown giving Gillyweed to Harry – it is Dobby who does so in the book. “Oh so it wasn’t that important to the overall story” I’ll be told. Well, how was the episode where Harry talks to Sirius in the fireplace important? Yes I am going into the minutiae – but it is minutiae such as these that make the books so interesting. Overall, the trend in the movie has been to eschew parts of book that don’t necessarily contribute to the movie in terms of narrative – unless they have ample room for histrionics.

Even if I were to forget the book, and consider the movie on its own standing, I wouldn’t be too pleased. The kernel of the movie - the Triwizard tournament, lacked grandeur. That arena where Harry fights the Dragon looked a bit too cramped. The maze sequence of the third task, which leads Harry and Cedric to the cup, was vapid at best. The cast has grown-up quite a bit and have a difficulty in passing off as 14 year olds - Ron and Hermione in particular! I hope they shot the other 2 movies in parallel or I can already imagine Harry sporting a goatee in the next movie – if nothing else, out of compulsion to disregard the young wizard’s sketch prescribed in the book.

People tell me to take it easy. After all it’s a movie – a different medium – and these things happen. The commiserations usually come from that quarter of my friends who haven’t yet read the book. My question to them is - why even call the movie “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”? Doing so causes me to expect things from the movie that it can not, does not and will not offer. How about “Harry P versus Evil V?” or “Young Sorcerer is Soup”?

I am expecting disappointment from the next movie already. Still, there is a good chance that I will watch it. I call this the J.K.R Tax and all Harry Potter fans must pay it!
posted: 23.11.05


Totally agree with your views and especially the last para :)

Say, those CAPTCHA words at the bottom could actually be spells. Try saying them aloud and see what happens. Maybe they'll start making better movies.

By Blogger Kaushal, at 23.11.05  

I couldn’t help notice that the kid in the blue t-shirt, who led the pack of eager grown-ups; but for his dark hair, resembled Malfoy.

ROTFL! You rock! :-)

By Blogger ash, at 23.11.05  

What a coincidence! I just caught the movie last night. Will agree on most counts with your review. I was yawning for most part (though to be fair to the makers of the movie, it was also a late night show after a full day in office). I thought the underwater scenes for the second task were nicely done though and the world cup stadium scenes too... probably the reason why the tri-wizard setup looked rather lacklustre in comparison.

BTW the vizag beach pic is a nice action freeze. The light and the shadows are interesting. Great going D!

By Blogger Avis, at 23.11.05  

Young Sorcerer is Soup! Oh my, that's just beautiful.

By Blogger wendigo, at 24.11.05  

Hi Kaushal - "epkxs" - go figure :-)

:-) Thanks Ash!

Thanks Avis! This one is from the Minolta Point and Shoot archives! I miss it having in my pocket sometimes.

:-) Thanks Wndigo!

By Blogger Deepak, at 27.11.05  

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