Disclaimer: I’m sorry, I just can’t help but write about a certain wizarding franchise that is once again taking the world by storm this weekend. I wasn’t planning to. Then I read a certain piece on Slate.com that made me laugh so much, soup almost came out of my nose. It also got me thinking.
The article in question* is a dialogue between two Slate editors who screen the final Harry Potter movie, having never read any of the HP books nor watched any of the previous movies.
Despite evidence to the contrary, these editors don’t seem to live under a rock. One of the most interesting aspects of the piece may be how much the editors knew about the HP wizarding world before going to the movie. They got some things wrong, sure, but the ads, posters, references in the news media, and water-cooler conversations they had been exposed to over the years had given them a good deal of the basics. They knew the trio of protagonists, more or less: Harry, Hermione, and the red-haired kid. They knew there is a sport played with brooms, called quiddich [sic]. They’re pretty sure Voldemort is the bad guy.
Equally fascinating is how little more of the story, and especially the backstory, the editors understood after watching the movie. How many film adaptations of literary series can get away with not building substantial background in to each installment? How many can get away with releasing a movie whose plot is in no way resolved before the cliffhanger ending, as was the case with the Deathly Hallows Part 1? (In fact, a friend who watched Part 1 without having read the Deathly Hallows hated the movie.)
But J.K. Rowling’s series of children’s fantasy books has become such culturally required reading–and has done so quickly–that the films can get away with assuming most viewers are devoted readers of the series. A generation of teens and young adults has grown up immersed in an enthusiasm for the fictional universe created in Rowling’s pages, and hungry for other literary adventures. We at Lerner strive to feed them! As many of those teens sleep in this morning after going to midnight showings (check out the costumed crowds!), and the buzz reaches its apex, and those who have abstained from the books and movies roll their eyes at the hype, surely it’s still worth another blog post to celebrate Harry Potter for the role it has played.
And also for the fantastic spinoffs that resulted:
Happy Final Installment of Harry Potter Weekend!
*Note that the Slate article, not unlike the final installment in the Harry Potter series, is not appropriate for children.