Somewhere in the depths of book five


Still here, for now. Moving the blog is going to be more difficult than I thought. I thought I could just change the configuration setting to point the blog to a different URL, but I tested it and it didn't work. After spending a month changing hosts and updating the software this summer, I'm dreading going through another big hassle.I'm beginning to think maybe it isn't worth it.

Might as well press on with the Harry Potter blogging while I try to make up my mind.

I don’t have much more to say about book four. Whoever wrote the movie script did an excellent job of turning the 734-page book into a movie, stretching out the bits that made for exciting scenes, such as Harry’s battle with the dragon—the book version paled by comparison—while leaving out plot elements and characters that really didn’t add all that much to the story. In most ways the graveyard scene was better in the movie, although the description in the book of what took place when the wands connected was cool; better than what we could see happening on the screen.

So, on to book five. This may not have been intended as satire, but whom does this sound like? A politician who’s in denial regarding a disastrous situation, who transforms the trial system to suit his needs, who has the ear of a lapdog press and uses them effectively to smear and disparage anyone who suggests that all is not well, whose main concern is keeping his own powerful position, who hands down edicts regarding education that take control out of the hands of the teachers… I’m writing, of course, of Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge. Whom did you think?

This is the first Harry Potter book I’ve read without having a movie version playing continuously in the background, in my head. There’s no escaping what’s written on the page now. The relentless unfairness and cruelty to which Harry is subjected in the first half of the book makes it tough to read at times. Harry's inability to control his temper is a major theme during this part of the book, and it makes for frustrating reading. The author seems to abandon this theme after, oh, four or five hundred pages.

Even the prominent role played by the entire Weasley family, as supportive as they are, doesn’t serve to provide Harry with much relief from his misery. I find myself wondering if all the books have been this way, really, but the movie playing in the back of my head constantly rewrote scenes to make them more tolerable: that didn’t happen…that didn’t happen…it didn't happen like that…

Since the book is 870 pages long, I keep trying to guess what will be left out of the movie. I doubt if we’ll see any house elves, except maybe the one at Black’s house. He adds comic relief, and hoo boy do we need comic relief here; bring it on. Professor Binn is good for an endless supply of jokes, and Sirius's mother adds laughs at some of the most tense moments. The tone changes in the second half, or maybe the last third, of the book. When the entire school mutinies—students, staff, and poltergeist—it's a relief.

July 2012

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