Last night as an early birthday gift, Agent Bun took me to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, and though it’s technically in violation of my own thoughts on movie title length, it was quite enjoyable.
While it deserves a knock for being completely incomprehensible if you haven’t seen the first part of this two-part adaptation, something that was avoided with the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars films, as a fan it gave me what I wanted to see.
Once again, they made changes from the book (particularly the ending) that improved the story and in my own opinion, were actually more fulfilling.
But that’s not really what I want to write about.
I realized near the end of the film that for a lot of people who came out to see it, this film is their Revenge of the Sith moment. They knew, the whole time they were watching, what I knew on May 19, 2005: This is it. There’s nothing after this, no magic save to keep the series going. The story’s completed, all the pieces are in place and everything’s done.
I suspect people went through the same sort of moment with Return of the Jedi – but Potter doesn’t lend himself to prequels, or even sequels at this point. Every last ounce of the story’s told now.
In a way, that made me feel really connected to the Potter fan community for a moment. I’ve never been as all-out as those who dress up (not even as a Wars or Trek or Tron fan for that matter), but I’ve read all the books and now, seen all the movies.
But I get it. This is sort of an emotional watershed for hard–core fans. A moment where you’re tempted to look back and see where you were when you started watching, and where you are now.
For a lot of those fans, Harry Potter started at a very young age and now they’re teenagers. For others, they started watching in grade school and now they’re out of high school. It’s been ten years since the first one came out, after all; it was released about two months after the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked by a bunch of nut jobs.
The World is Changed
I could list how many ways the world has changed, but would devolve quickly into snark. Which I hate.
To me, it seems that the world has changed more during the release of these seven movies than “my six.” I don’t care what the reasons are/were/will be. The world is changing at a quicker pace than ever before, and it’s interesting that lost in the kerfluffle is this story about the importance of growing up wisely and understanding the impact of our choices.
If anything, we live in a world now where we act, then we defend that action; once we have taken the action, to admit wrong is akin to public humiliation. It seems to me it would be wiser if we thought about what to do before we did it, and gave more weight to thinking instead of feeling. We’re out of balance.
So I applaud the overall moral arc of these movies, that even though the right choices will often bring pain, they are still the right choices. It’s a good lesson. There’s the theme of self-sacrifice, the willingness to put others above yourself and the courage of conviction in the face of an evil that rules through intimidation and group-think.
It’ll be interesting to see if Potter has the same longevity that previous niche titans have. I know that there’s an insanely awesome theme park place for it and that won’t hurt, so perhaps Potter can become the first long-lasting cultural phenom of the modern; the tools are certainly there to help it. Whereas Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and Star Wars had to spend their time at the margins to maintain their lives, Potter can live in the open from the start.
Will my kids read these books? Possibly. Who knows what will be popular in a few years? But I can tell you that I’d be happy if they were to choose them, if for nothing else than Maddy let me read the entirety of The Hobbit to her already, and they’re certainly of the same bloodline.
So farewell, Harry Potter. I’m sure I’ll see you soon.