Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Long Live Harry Potter!

Spoiler alert: Harry Potter lives! This last movie in the eight-series franchise, despite its bittersweet ending, will leave you waking up with a smile on your face – unless you’re a Death Eater fan who enjoys mocking movie stars who wear conservative suits and beautiful dresses to their premieres instead of ill-fitting suits, no socks, and mismatched orange shoes to complement the purple streak in their hair.

Even though it’s the end, the movie leaves you with such a good feeling, especially for the trio of young stars who grew up filming the series. You have a good feeling for all the young supporting cast stars and their characters – the ones who survive and the ones who don’t. Luna Lovegood (my particular favorite), Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley. The adult characters, too – Prof. Lupin (who doesn’t make it), Sirius Black (ditto – although both he and Lupin’s characters are “resurrected”), Prof. McGonagall and the best Mom since June Cleaver, Mrs. Weasley. Although Mrs. Weasley uses a word that would make Mrs. Cleaver blush, she does so in service of her daughter. Mrs. Malfoy is a close second. (Yes, Draco has a mother – thank goodness.)

And then there’s Prof. Snape.

Moral relativism plays very little, if any role, in these films. Except for Prof. Snape and Draco, the characters are pretty much black and white. In the fight of good versus evil, good must win, or the world is doomed. Courageous people must stand up for what is right, no matter the cost. Harry is that special everyboy who finds himself thrust into the van of the battle. The road is tough, he’s not always sure of himself, but endowed with the love of his parents, the loyalty of his best friends, Ron and Hermione, and guided by his instructors and mentors, he finds the courage to see that good triumphs over evil.

J.K. Rowling wrote a series of very compelling children’s stories. So compelling that adults wanted to read them, too. She was (is) famous for planting clues in her novels about what’s ahead. Before the films came out, legions of Harry Potter fans would test one another on their knowledge of Quidditch, the paintings, and who said what when (i.e. what's the translation of Hogwart's Latin motto?  "Never tickle a sleeping dragon.")

Prof. Snape was the greatest puzzle of all, and Alan Rickman’s performance, delivering his lines with delicious deliberation (something the American Media has a problem understanding in our mini-sound byte world), is worthy of at least an Oscar nomination. Early on, Rowling charged him with Snape’s secret and to his credit, he never betrayed it. Once you’ve seen this last movie, you’ll look back on the previous films with new insight.

Children grow up and stories end, sometimes all too swiftly. Too us adults, it seems like only yesterday Daniel Radcliffe was that round-eyed little boy in the glasses, Emma Watson was the little know-it-all with the mass of hair, and Rupert Grint was the eternal little brother, following in his many brothers’ footsteps.

Now they’re grown up and the story has ended. Yet it hasn’t. The young actors will certainly go on to other projects – Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, equaling one another for photogenic appearance have already moved onto other projects. Both have wound in, or on the covers of, every major fashion magazine. Rupert has yet to make up his mind.

Harry Potter is destined to be a literary and film classic. Our sorry age is very short of courageous heroes. We’ve had to go back in time to resurrect them – Superman, Batman, Spiderman. Although endowed with magical powers that come in handy when battling magical villains, it’s still that mugglish, down-to-earth quality, that sense that it’s not about talent or heritage, but determination, valor, and a belief in doing the right thing that makes the hero.

Good luck to the young stars of Harry Potter – Dan, Emma, and Rupert - and long live Harry Potter!  And many thanks to J.K. Rowling, for bringing magic back to children's literature.

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