Potterville – Prologue: Letters in the Fireplace

Dumbledore's Army

Serious business, ya’ll.

The Harry Potter books are my “comfort” novels. When I feel like curling up with a book but I don’t want one that will require much of me, I read Harry Potter. I’ve read the entire series through at least four times, because I love returning to that world. If that makes me a preteen at heart, I’m comfortable with that. But I have a more complicated relationship with the movies.

It’s difficult to gauge one’s response to an adaptation of something one loves. There is so much emotion involved that clear thought is difficult. I didn’t read the novels until after the movie series had already begun, but they were a bit of an obsession when I finally got around to them. As the movies stopped being “new” and became “adaptations” for me, my thoughts became more conflicted, especially early on.

But at this end of the tunnel, I consider the Harry Potter movies to be among the most impressive of movie series. Just think about it. Has there ever been a movie series that went eight installments without releasing a stinker? Say what you will about what did and didn’t get left out, but the movies were never less than professional and entertaining. I can’t think of a single other series with such a strong average.

And now that the series has finished and I’ve become more familiar with the films by themselves, I don’t think they get enough credit for being such good adaptations. They began adapting a long series that wasn’t finished when they started, and somehow managed to wrestle it down into eight watchable movies that mostly held together. Not only that, but they have essentially codified the visual language of the books, adapting all of it into a look that meshed so well with the descriptions in the book that it’s hardly possible for me to imagine Hogwarts looking different from the movies. And all this with a cast that only ever had to make one major casting change.

So suffice to say, I grew to appreciate the movies for what they were. I saw them all as they were released in the theaters, starting in the holiday season of 2001. It’s been said that the books grew with their audience, and to a small extent that was true of me with the movies. I actually was able to find them for a terrific price at a post-Thanksgiving sale last year, and it felt like my movie collection was finally complete. How did I not manage to collect them as they came out anyway? No idea, but I was glad to correct it.

All that to say, welcome to Potterville. Starting next Wednesday I’ll be watching and writing about each Harry Potter movie, one per week. I’m not looking for anything in particular, although I’m curious to gauge how well they can exist aside from the context of the books, since I often forget if something was or wasn’t in the movies. I’m also curious to see how the series shifts over its run, as it changes directors and as they get more embroiled in the plot.

But mostly I’m just excited to watch them again and discuss them with you, my readers. If you have the movies and feel like watching along, now’s a great time. If you’ve never watched them and know nothing about Harry Potter, now’s a good time to join in. Share with friends and fellow fans if you feel so led. We’ll have ourselves a Potter-riffic time.

Next week: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone


3 thoughts on “Potterville – Prologue: Letters in the Fireplace

  1. I think the first one is a masterpiece. Easily in the same class as the Wizard of Oz. the others are uniformly good but vary in quality and watching them in a short space of time (or indeed reading the books) you can see a bit of repetition in the basic plots. Though I lay that at the feet of Rowling and her writing. Only the very last movie rivals the first for greatness and it too is a masterpiece.

  2. I totally had this idea that we should all watch the first HP movie together for Adam’s birthday, as he just finished the first book. Alas, it sounds like you’re already knee deep anyway. I love both the books and the movies for the way one can share community over them. They have become a cultural reference point for me, which is why they were a must-read for my significant-other. I look forward to your thoughts.

    • I haven’t actually started watching yet. I’m probably going to try to fit it in some night this week (maybe even tonight) and write about it over the weekend. If you guys still wanted to get together and see it I’d be cool with that.

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