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Well, this book review has been far too long in the writing, and while my trip to Italy took place between the reading of the book and the current review of it, believe me when i say i’ve reviewed it in my head, in the critical way that i always treat Harry Potter books, so it is not just the emotional reaction that i had upon finishing my first reading of the book.

The period leading up to the book

I have to admit that during the two year gap between HP and the half-blood prince – a book which i enjoyed enormously – and the latest and final installment, i partook quite gratuitously in the whole world of predicting the outcome of the Harry potter series, going to the extent of analyzing past data scientifically, reading a good number of essays and predictions by fellow enthusiasts, and coming up with some theories of my own.  My good friend Jai, a fellow potter-adict (the man responsible for my own addiction) can attest to this.

I won’t actually go into any details, but suffice to say, that i ended up with much more meta-reasoning than reasoning within the framework of the stories themselves.  Mainly because as interesting a world as JK Rowling has created, it is alas! not the most self-coherent one.  I mean, i’m a tolkien fanatic, and i set his style of creation as the only way to go, somethign matched only by the likes of Frank Herbert and Isaac Asimov.  But i try to not let incoherences in the Potter World take away from the immense pleasure they create. 

I had predicted that Potter himself would not die, and that Snape would.  Simple metareasoning.  Rowling wouldn’t disappoint and send into depression millions of young people by killing his hero off at the end.  And Snape had to end up as a good person because, otherwise how could you get the message across that everyone has some good in them, especially when love is involved.  For the same reasons i argued that the Ron and Hermione characters would survive, and believed that Neville Longbottom (one of my favourite characters) must die in a heroic manner. While Jai claimed thathe was sure Harry was a horcrux, i didn’t think believe it woudl be so, however, i was sure that the scar would have be a near horcrux, or a critical part of the final defeat of voldemort. Other predictions included a very high likelihood of Severus Snape having been previously in love with Harry’s mum Lily Potter.  Finally, i was sure that Dumbledore’s past would certainly have to be involved, especially somethign concerning the enigmatic character of Grindelwald.  I figured Grindelwald would have to be somethign based on a Hitlerian archetype, considering his defeat at the hands of Dumbledore was coincidental with the end of the WWII in the muggleworld.

While i admit, i did not venture too far from the standard sort of prediction i did happen to come across some very well-written articles and essays concerning the future of the varios characters, the most interesting of which i found over at Mugglenet.com, wherein the writer drew a parallel between Severus Snape, the so-called Half-blood Prince, and Macchiavelli’s The Prince.  The idea i thought was beautiful. And considereing Ms. Rowling’s track record for subtlety, especially in use of character names (didn’t even realize the connection between the Phoenix Fawkes and the infamous Guy Fawkes until a couple of years ago!), to use the name Half-blood Prince as a sort of, not just hommage, but a hint at the character of Snape.  In fact i personally thought and hoped that by the end the book would become much more about Snape than harry potter.  Potter, like most heroes even in the best works of fiction or mythology, is boring, and one dimensional (eg. Frodo Baggins, or Luke Skywalker).  Whereas a character like snape who is flawed has so much more potential and is so much more interesting (look at how Lord of the rings was so mcuh more about sam gamgee than frodo, or how star wars was so much more about anakin/darth vader than the straight up hero luke). 

Anyways, with these thoughts in my head, the days counted down, until finally, as detailed previously, i got my hands on a copy of the book at 2am on the 20th/21st of July.

The First Review of the Book (spoilers coming up)

I knew that if i wanted to fully immerse myself in the book, i had to read it in one sitting. So i started at 2.30 AM on the 29th and finished at 1.15 AM on the 30th.  I did take pee breaks, as well as food breaks. I’m sure at one point i passed out, but all in all, it was a near straight cover to cover read.  In hindsight i wonder if that influenced my very first impressiosn of the book. 

I will warn readers that from this point forward i will discuss SPOILERS AND PLOTSSLINES IN THE BOOK.

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Well, it has come … and gone.

Standing in line a mere 3 hours last friday nite, i was able to get my hands on the final installment of the Harry potter saga: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, at 2.40 AM, at Paris’ famous W.H.Smith.

So i decided to make it a Potter-ful night and so i went before hand to watch the newly released Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix film.

MOVIE REVIEW: Harry potter and the Order of the Phoneix

What an absolute and utter disappointment. Easily, the worst of the five movies, and on almost every level.

Before starting my critique, i will acknowledge that it was a very difficult task to try and condense a 700-page book into a less than 3 hours long movie. However, having said that, let us not forget that the 4th move, Goblet of Fire, was also a massive book, which was satisfactorily translated onto the silver screen. So let me go through the problems:

  • The story is incredibly incoherent. And this is coming from a hardcore Potterphile, who knows the stories inside out. While it is acceptable to leave out many smaller details which add to the ambiance of the book but do not figure in the main storyline, one cannot do the same with important points. I can only imagine how confusing the movie must have been to one who has NOT read the books. There are jumps in plot, there is no character developement. There is no logic in the reason people do things.
  • Utterly anticlimactic. As i sat there, grinding my teeth through teh first half, i kept justifying the missing chunks of story, by saying that all is for a good reason: take away from the first half of the story, in order to allow a long and superclimactic final confrontation scene. In the book, the final confrontation is easily, the most climactic of the first six books (yes, even more so that i would say in the Half-blood Prince). The entire part with teh kids running around in the department of mysteries should be the perfect medium for any diretor looking for some inventive eye-candy. And yet … david yates, chose to skip over almost all of it, and go straight to the hall of prophcies. Such a shame. Can you imagine this part of the story, in the hands of, for example Alfonso Cuaron (the guy who did the 3rd movie), or better yet, someone like a Terry Gilliam, or Jean-Pierre Jeunet? Then as if that wasn’t bad enough, the utter climax, the duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort, is done away far too quickly, without any interesting visuals, and dishonesty towards the characters to some degree.
  • And while i’m on the department of mysteries sequence, WHAT THE HELL WAS UP WITH THE DEATH EATERS WOOSHING AROUND LIKE THAT? For goodness sake…..
  • Furthermore, Why did they have to change Sirius’s death? I can think of100 ways of doign it which would have been better than that. AND WHY THE HELL DID THE ARCHWAY NOT HAVE A VEIL!!!!!! OH FOR GOODNESS SAKE……
  • I really dislike some character depictions. First of all, i have Never liked Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore. The essence of Dumbledore is a childish spirit with the body and wisdom of an old man. He’s the greatest wizard of the age, one who knows it, who is confident of his abilities, and is afraid of no one, and is utterly compassionate. Most of this does not come through Gambon’s interpretation. Which is a shame, because they are the most attractive parts of the character’s personality. I miss Richard Harris’s Dumbledore.
  • We didn’t get to see nearly enough of Snape! Come on, here we have one of the best and most intriguing characters in the series (not the mention the most perfectly played, thanks to alan rickman), and i think he has only a few minutes of screentime.
  • I’m sorry, but i dont care what reviewers say, but i think If Daniel Radcliffe (the guy who plays harry potter) had an act-off with the inimitably bad Hayden Christensen (guy who played Anakin skywalker), i’m sure they would both lose.
  • I believe, the girl who played Luna Lovegood, is the first non-brit employed in the series. And it shows! And her lack of acting experiences shows too! She may have the proper appearance, but the acting was just not there. And what the heck was up with the not-so-subtle “romantic tension’ between her and harry. Come on david yates, you can be more subtle than that.

If only to be fair, i will point out some of the positive points as well.

  • The two main young ladies, who play Hermione and Ginny, are certainly growing up most beautifully. It’ll be a shame when by the final movie they’ll have to be 22 years olds playing 16 year old high schoolers, not that i will mind.
  • There were a lot of good visual, not necessarily in the context of the story, but in themselves. Some good visual jokes, such as the kitten plates in Umbridge’s office.
  • Dolores Umbridge. Imelda Staunton was … PERFECT. She was the lone shining light in the entire movie. She had the character down to a’t’. From those annoying littel coughs, to look and behaviour. She was perfect in everyway.
  • … hmm…i guess that’s it.

Did anyone who has not read the books actually understand what is going on now? i doubt it. Do they know the importance of the prophecy? no. Or of nevill longbottom? no.

Well, that’s it. I have not yet begun reading the book. i hope to begin soon, once i’ve finished the re-reading of the last two, just to get into the flow of things.

 

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Wow, JKRowling has given us a christmas treat by revealing the title of the 7th and final installatioin of the Harry potter saga. As if it wasn’t bad enough already, i can just see the wave of new theories coming out given this important bit of information.  Let the games begin!

So the 7th book shall be called:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

[tags]harry potter, final book, jk rowling, book title, deathly hallows[/tags]

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  • In the United States today, we have more than our share of the nattering nabobs of negativism. They have formed their own 4-H Club - the 'hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history. - - - Spiro T. Agnew (about the press, 1970)


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