All Hail Buckbeak!!!!

5 Jun

          So, I think I’ve figured it out. Sometimes when films go to get duplicated, so that there are enuff copies to go around to all the theaters in all the world… mistakes happen. It’s the only way to explain it. Obviously, Care and Hallie both saw some print, some copy or version of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban that got screwed up. It’s the only way to explain it, because the version I saw was bloody brilliant. Oh, and Vanessa, you’ll want to go here.
          You know why I love film? Because sometimes, on rare occassion, a movie lets you have an experience that would otherwise be impossible. I’ve read the Harry Potter books, and I’ve lived thru them all in that way, but watching a scene is different from reading it. It’s a passive experience, and if it’s done well, it sweeps you up in it before you can think to yourself that it’s not real. “It’s just a movie.” In a book, you have to imagine it yourself, which means there’s always that nagging “it’s not real” going on. Maybe you disagree with me, but that’s my experience. It is of course, a good argument for reading since it encourages imagination and creativity. But that’s not the point. The point is this: I have read the Harry Potter books, but before tonight I had never flown on a Hippogriff. I’d never really seen one. Sure, I’d imagined it, and I imagined it fairly acurately, but the people that made this movie, bless them, they actually found a real one.
          I have seen the trailers for the film countless times (thank you Tessa…) and read advance reviews and set-visit reports, and seen pictures of all the characters (thanks Orli), and I know the book well, but I forgot all of that once the film got going. This is good, as the movie isn’t exactly like the book. I got totally swept up in this magical world inhabited by these older (and I no longer see them as actors) children.
          The first two movies were very literal (pardon the expression) by-the-book adaptations. Movie One is a cinematic showing of all the highlights in Book One, shown in chronological order. The effects are varying in their quality, as are the performances, and some of the book’s highlights were cut from the movie. Movie Two is a cinematic showing of the highlights of Book Two, shown in chronological order, with better effects, better performances, but with more of the longer-than-the-first-one-book’s highlights absent. If they had taken the same path with book three, the movie would have been at least an hour longer than it was (as it stands, it’s 10 minutes shorter than Stone, and 20 minutes shorter than Chamber.) Perhaps it could have worked, and we could have learned in the movie who Padfoot et al. are while we were sitting there for that extra time seeing what we had already imagined. Certainly however, that method of book-to-movie-adaptation wouldn’t work for book four. I care about the characters in the first two films, because I have read the five books. I care about the characters in this third film, because I saw this third film. Alfonso Cuaron’s Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban is an adaptation that is true to the book like Peter Jackson’s Fellowship of The Ring is true to that book. But it’s not a cinematic recap of the book’s highlights. Instead, it’s the heart of the story, told with cinema in mind. It’s the movie version of the truth of Harry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts. There is also a book version, which is slightly different and more in depth. I like them both.
          Harry has some weight in this film, and it’s nice that the movie is really his. It’s “just Harry” a thirteen year old wizard who for one short scene (or maybe two…) expects to go home with his godfather. Tragic. Powerful. I really am surprised by how surprised I am by this movie. I feel like it went by really fast. However, as it seems not everyone is in love with this new magical world as much as I am, I should say that I don’t think it’s a perfect film. I think a few little things would have made it a lot better.
           I wish we had found out what Harry was thinking of when he cast his final life-saving Patronus. I wish Dumbledore had seemed more… playful. I wish there had been more Snape, and more Trelawny. I wish the movie had told us who Moody, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs were. I wish the Boggart in the wardrobe scene had been longer. I wish the Whomping Willow tree didn’t look so different. I wish that Hogwarts didn’t look so different too for that matter… BUT… I wish that the Hogwarts of the first two films had been this one. I prefer this one. Eh, whatever, it’s a magical school, it can change location. Pretty location.
          Perhaps this has gone on long enuff. What else can I say? This movie showed me a world where there is such thing as magic, and it sucked me into this world, and I love it. I want to see all the magic going on in the background of The Leaky Cauldron. I want to ride Buckbeak again. I want to watch Harry and Ron and their bunkmates eating magical candy. The real difference between this film and the first two, is that I feel the weight Harry feels when he is reminded, over and over, that everyone knows his story but him. He can only know his parents thru the remarks of people like Lupin, and that shows in Harry’s face. It’s reflected in the music, the muted colors, the framing of the images, and (yes, I’ll say it again, because Daniel Radcliffe is that good in this one) Harry’s face. It’s a quality movie version of a quality story. The essence of the story is the same. The word for word and scene for scene breakdown doesn’t have to be. This way, I’m watching things that I haven’t yet imagined. I only want to go and do it again.


2 Responses to “All Hail Buckbeak!!!!”

  1. tinycaredance June 5, 2004 at 6:29 am #

    i’m glad someone enjoyed it …. but i stand by my BLECH

  2. chesire_smile June 5, 2004 at 12:10 pm #

    See, this is why I love you. And we are going to have a very passionate “discussion” when I get back about the movie and out _very_ different reactions. *grin* But, like Care, I stand by my OH MY GOD I AM GOING TO KILL SOMEONE statement.

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