Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2001-11-26 Entry: "Pottering About"

So, Sunday afternoon, a child-filled cinema, and a film based upon a book. Lets take these one by one:

Firstly, I dislike seeing films in crowded cinemas. I'd be happy to be the only one in there (not quite happened - 2 has been the fewest so far!), and a handful isn't a problem, but nearly every seat full is my idea of a nightmare.

Secondly - children in cinemas. There's probably an age at which they're bearable (18?), but younger than that and they don't understand the "please keep your hands inside the car at all times" principle of not wandering around the cinema while the film is playing. They also don't understand that commenting on every scene is not required and we don't want to hear the sound of their voice (of course, there are adults who don't understand this latter principle, but at least they try!).

Thirdly, films based upon books are doomed from the start. If you've read the book, then they'll never be as good - scene X on screen will never match scene X in your head, and they'll have thoroughly Americanized (read "made it simple and schmaltzy") the source.

In this particular case, I managed to put up with the hordes of people, as the film wasn't bad. It wasn't brilliant you understand - I'm having real trouble finding films that I think are at the moment - but it wasn't half bad.

Lets take a look at "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone."

They left the title alone (unlike Columbine's viewing of it) so at least the etymology of the title made sense, and they tried to stick to the source. This made it dull and plodding at times, but now they've got it out of the way, the latter films can concentrate on being "Rollicking Good Fun."

They also had a bit of an over-reliance on computer generated imagery at times - at least one of the "Broomstick out of control" sequences suffered from a clearly animated rider.

The Quidditch match was fun, and my recollection now is that it was rather short, when at the time I thought it was dragging on rather a bit... odd how that happens.

The cast was reasonable - Richard Harris came across as a bit old and feeble - I'd have expected Dumbledore to have a little more steel than this one, but this is what you get by casting a doddering old actor who may well die before they finish the series. The boy playing Harry was also weak, but didn't have a lot to do... hopefully he'll grow into the role.

Ron, Hermione and Hagrid carry this film... and Alan Rickman as Snape is of course perfectly sinister. They do a remarkable job of making Robbie Coltrane look large and imposing, and he plays the part with gusto - large but soft is the order of the day here.

Ron, although well played, suffered from a lack of things to do, whereas Hermione had more to do (and was cute as a button to boot).

Roll on the second film...

And the Washington Post don't know what they're talking about... being geeky and sci-fi / fantasy oriented at least forces children to use their imaginations, and this article seems to be advocating the exact opposite. And no, it's not humourous - at least not as far as I can tell...

(And as it'll disappear very shortly, I'd better point you at some quotes from it - see Columbine's rebuttal).

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