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Editorial: Harry Potter and the Unrealistic Expectations

by David Haber, Wizard News Wizard

OK, we're now two weeks away from opening day of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and since I get tons of emails on this after every Harry Potter movie premiere, I feel it's my duty at this point in time to remind fans about the reality of the Harry Potter movies.

Please listen to this very carefully: THE MOVIES ARE NOT THE BOOKS. They never can be. Movies are perhaps more immediately exciting than books, but movies can never approach the complexity and nuances you can get from reading a really good book (like the ones J.K. Rowling writes).

When a book is made into a movie, by necessity it can only be one person's (the filmmaker's) interpretation of the book. It's like if you and I were going to sit down together and I were to tell you, in my own words, the story of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I might be a really good story teller, and you'd probably enjoy my re-telling of the tale, but no matter how good a story teller I am, I'm never going to be able to give you everything that's in the book. I might only remember the important, interesting or funny parts. And we don't have four days to sit together.

It's the same with the Harry Potter movies. I think we've been really lucky that our favorite characters and places from the books have been portrayed so enjoyably. (I personally can't imagine better casting than Richard Harris, Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane, the list goes on and on.) But in the retelling of the movie, some scenes and dialogue are combined with others and some are left out entirely.

But is that a bad thing? I don't think Harry Potter fans should think so. After all, those who have not read the books don't know what they're missing. And fans of the books should be able to enjoy the parts of the books that are represented in the movies, while using their imaginations to fill in the missing parts that they remember from the books. These missing parts should not ruin the experience of seeing the movie for you, on the contrary, being able to see the movie and fill in the entire story in our imaginations should be treasured as a wonderful gift to all Harry Potter fans. It's like getting a six hour movie! (With bathroom breaks, of course!)

So, please, as we all get to see the movie in a few weeks, let's remember to enjoy and be thankful for the movies and not get bogged-down in how this or that was left out or changed. Remember, after seeing the exciting portrayals of the events in the movie, that book is still up there on your shelf, just waiting to be taken down and read again, this time on a whole new level as you enjoy it while remembering the fun you had seeing these events in the movie.

See you at the Quidditch World Cup two weeks from midnight, tonight!

Published November 3, 2005

This article is Copyright © 2005, David Haber, and may not be reproduced on other web sites or in print, in whole or in part, without expressed permission

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