Friday, July 24, 2009

Harry Potter and Me

I always think the last Harry Potter movie I’ve seen is the best one. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is no exception. Of course, the first film holds a special place in my heart because I was so excited to see the characters come to life on the big screen. Although I felt concern about whether or not the film version would enchant me as much as J.K. Rowling’s delightful book, I needn’t have worried. Everything from Harry’s fast-paced airborne Quidditch match to the ferocious three-headed dog named "Fluffy" appeared on screen almost exactly as I pictured the characters and events in my own mind. It was uncanny!

The following four Harry Potter movies were definitely entertaining enough to keep my sense of wonder alive. I marveled at the daring of Harry and his friends Hermione and Ron as they solved the mystery of The Chamber of Secrets; I cheered their discovery that Sirius Black was much more than a criminal in The Prisoner of Azkaban; and I shuddered at Harry’s harrowing graveyard meeting with the evil Lord Voldemort in Goblet of Fire. While watching The Order of the Phoenix, I felt Harry's frustration as he grappled with his own inner demons and the abuse of power.

Which brings us to The Half-Blood Prince. My worry about Harry intensified here. What were Dumbledore and Professor Snape up to? Who should be trusted? Why did Dumbledore give Harry such a dangerous mission? How can Harry uncover the truth about the villainous Lord Voldemort’s time as a student at Hogwarts? And who is The Half-Blood Prince? Clearly, there’s evil afoot, and the stage is being set for a showdown between Harry and Voldemort, which will take place at the end of the franchise.

I think this latest Harry Potter outing offers the most humor (especially when teen-age romances begin to bloom) as well as the most wondrous visuals so far. Director David Yates and cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel must be modern wizards, for -- with the help of magical special effects, sets, music and costumes -- they have created a movie of incredible beauty despite its mostly dark themes.

It’s always a treat to see well-made movies emphasizing the value of courage, friendship and loyalty – and despite fascinating special effects and an emphasis on magic, I believe that’s the important message delivered by all the Harry Potter films.

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