Monday, July 18, 2011

Harry Potter and the Tearful Farewell

"It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are far more than our abilities"
- Dumbledore pg. 333 Chamber of Secrets

It's silly that I'm blinking back hot tears writing this. But I'm sorta sentimental about the Harry Potter Series. Back in 1999 I joined the Unofficial Harry Potter Fan Club started by interweb fan fiction pioneer "Jenna" (never found out her last name) and created a special bulletin board display with pages I printed (in colour!) from the website! It was the first book I became a fangrrl for! I made sure to put the URL at the bottom of each page to teach my kids attribution. I thought I had lost these pics until cleaning up at the end of the year when I stumbled across an old ZIP disk! (and yes, I still have a Zip drive --- just in case!) And Whoohooo! Some early Digi pics edited with Photoshop Deluxe! The UHPFC website (on GeoCities, no less!) had character write-ups and artwork created by the fans...and this thing that was new to me called-- Fan Fiction and even before I knew what a Mary Sue was.

In 1997 when our school was not even a year old and before the book was released here in the U.S. I jumped on Amazon.UK & ordered the Philosopher's Stone version (still on my library's shelf! - we were the first to have it in my district! buwaa!) With each new book release I was on the Amazon pre-order... I taped thank you notes to my delivery guy to my front door in the summer and waited for that book to drop! I would read it, consume it, gobble it ...almost non-stop until I finished. I yelled out loud and was stunned and angry for days when Prof. Dumbledore died and wasn't brought back. I never expected that! With the last book ...Deathly Hallows I was up until sunrise the next day finishing it, eyes streaming with sad, happy, crushed, and sentimental tears. I read it too fast and as soon as I finished it I went back and re-read it again with less breathless haste.
"I LOVE magic!"
- Harry Potter upon seeing the inside of the Quiddich cup tent in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Thank you J.K. Rowling for creating a magical world for us that captured my attention, imagination, & emotions. Other series that have my lifelong love & affection are the Chronicles of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, and Little House on the Prairie. But all of those series were finished before I ever started them. Never had I started a series that was still in progress where the plot points were hotly debated among my friends and where our loyalty to the world was unequivocal! Where each book was feverishly anticipated! This was a first!
I'm going to see the final part of the movie tomorrow and I'm bittersweet about it. It's NOT an elementary story any longer. I really believe only the first book was appropriate for 4th or 5th graders after that the darkness pervading the series were definitely PG-13. The movies were certainly a happy surprise - they conveyed the magic almost as much as the book. So few films can do that. But the HP series of films gave me an extra gift of seeing with my eyes what my mind had beautifully imagined. I still watch the first one over and over because that walk on Diagon Alley was magical! (and I hate to admit that it wasn't till book 3 that I translated Diagonally in my mind..doh!) After watching 4 hours of the Bio channel's specials about the Making of Harry Potter I learned that 5 screenwriters were sent first editions of the first HP book - 4 declined the job...but got priceless 1st edition copies at least! Also when the young actress Evanna Lynch auditioned for the open casting call she admitted that she always identified with Luna when she read the novels and that standing in that ponderous open casting line for hours was the most "Gryffindor" that she ever had to be otherwise Luna would have given up & wandered away long before ever getting the chance to audition. Honestly, Evanna Lynch is the quintessential Luna Lovegood. She has that strange, detached, dreamy quality in her eyes and voice that flawlessly captures the character in the books and grows into the still dreamy but determined friend to Harry Potter.
So let's talk about the supporting cast stars to the HP world! Perfect casting! Kenneth Branagh as Gilderoy Lockheart? Brilliant! And no one else could be Severus Snape BUT the delicious Alan Rickman? Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange was just spot on! And how cool was it to see David Tennant my 2nd favourite Dr. Who show up as evil Barty Crouch, Jr? There *was* talks about an HP & Dr. Who crossover! But Tennant crushed it as too "spoofy" WTH!? So yes, I loved the movies. Did you?
The Harry Potter series resonates on so many levels with truly classical themes and characters. Heroic stories like the Mabinogion, the Odyssey even to Star Wars - Harry Potter embodies the classic tale of the lone hero, marked by parental abandonment and tragic circumstances is befriended by a sensai, a guide, Jedi master or a wise professor and who must defeat great forces and overcome great loss before he is ultimately triumphant. Beguilingly, these stories are set in modern times with modern kids facing modern problems - yet there is that hidden classic world hiding behind brick walls and subway platforms...so close, but out of reach for us Muggles. Who would not be enchanted?
I was enchanted...I continue to be enchanted. And isn't that the true magic of books? That willing suspension of disbelief that silken spell that surrounds the reader and sparks the imagination and lasts....forever. Thank you JK. Thank you so much!

Forgive me if this tearful long and rambling farewell post isn't techie, instructive, or even all that philosophical... I just think that Harry, Hermione, & Ron (and SNAPE!) deserved a goodbye love letter.
UPDATE: Harry Potter Eyes: Cried my makeup off at HP7 w/my friends! Sad, pathetic, huh? It was AWEsome!
I just got back from seeing HP7. A 1:10 movie on a hot humid DC Metro day. My friend Debbie joined me with her soon to be 9th grade son Matt. I leaned over before the movie started and said in a hushed sotto voice "What happens at Harry Potter stays at Harry Potter! I brought 10 Kleenexes from home and I'm prolly gonna use 'em all! I apologize in advance for my sobs - we won't be speaking of this again - got it!?" he laughed at me and I grinned and then tried to cry and sob with dignity behind my 3D glasses as best I could. Yeah, it was THAT GOOD! But parents! It's flippin scary! What looked like a 3rd grader got upset & had to be taken out. But for middle school kids & older?...It's a brilliant glorious exciting movie about love, sacrifice, friendship, and trust. Go see it. Now!




Lastly, from fan fav site 109 Harry Potter Reborn BABIES! Most disturbing creepy thing EVER! Eewwww! SCARY!
Baby Voldemort toy is the most horrifying thing to come out of the Harry Potter world

also...
The Most Ludicrous Moments from Lifetime’s J.K. Rowling Biopic

10 Fantasy Book Series That Could Replace Harry Potter at the Movies

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for this Gwyneth! The Harry Potter books hold a deeply emotional and personal place in my heart too. I haven't seen the latest movie, I'm saving it as my reward at the end of this week, but I am exciting and sad and I'll definitely be packing lots of tissues!

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  2. Thanks so much for the comment, Bobbi! I'm so glad I'm not the only one who holds these books dear to their heart. I can't wait to hear what you thought about the movie! And definitely take lots of tissues! Cheers!
    ~G

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  3. Gwyneth, I cried my eyes out too! When we left the theatre, I asked my husband what he thought of the movie. His response: "I think you cried A LOT."

    :)

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  4. Aww Tiff! Yeah..I was apologizing to my GF & her son for my barely held back sobs...and sniffs, and snuffles. But GREAT movie!

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  5. So glad to find this blog post today. I saw the final Harry Potter movie this afternoon by myself and have nobody to talk about it with. Maybe that was a good thing because I cried about five different times and was truly terrified at many others. And I NEVER cry. Weddings, funerals, books, movies - never. I think a lot of it was about saying goodbye to this world and these characters but also extreme gratitude for all they've given me over the past years. Thank you for sharing your memories.

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  6. My pleasure Mr. Young! So glad to meet you blog to blog! I'm totally inspired by your new Teacher Librarian Adventure and am eagerly following you both on Twitter & your blog! Cheers!
    ~Gwyneth

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