Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Protego Maximus

I saw Harry Potter 7.2 for the third time on Monday with Maggie and Ben. I think the movie is great. I would like to muse on it here. SPOILERS.

Everyone has their favorite scenes from the book that they wish the movie hadn't left out (Slytherin having to choose sides is mine). But for the most part all the big scenes are in the movie and they are done well. After watching it I still wonder how Harry came back to life.  Is it a near-death experience? Is he resurrected? Is it magic? I get the symbolism of it. I just wonder how JK Rowling would explain it, exactly.

I am also troubled by just how long Snape stays under cover. After killing Dumbledore his fake allegiance to Voldemort doesn't really seem to gain anything. I guess he is still at Hogwarts keeping an eye on things but it's not like he prevents it from getting very, very bleak. I think it's sad (but cool) to see him and McGonagall face off. Sad for Snape, that is. McGonagall doesn't know that they are on the same side.  Are they on the same side? I wonder about Snape. True, the HP series is one of the greatest love stories ever but if not for Lily, would he have remained sympathetic to Voldemort's cause? He did join it in the first place. I love Snape. He is complicated. His death is the most gruesome in the movie: "Nagini, Kill." Yikes. Why would I take my kids to see that! Yo. Children need to know about good and evil. They need to be armed for bear. Bear = evil. It's a personal parenting decision. You have to do what's right for your kids. I personally would (and have) let my kids watch the whole Harry Potter series and Star Wars and Lord of the Rings before I would ever subject them to the indecencies of The Smurfs. But that's me. I really want them to know that good triumphs over evil even if the battle is costly.

I love Neville's speech to rally the troops when everyone thinks Harry is dead. In it Neville enlarges the meaning of the Harry Potter story. It's sad if Harry dies, but he's not the point. They are fighting for a bigger cause. It was a pet theory of mine when I read the books that Neville really was "the chosen one" since he and Harry share a birthday. In a way he was the chosen one because he uses the Sword of Griffindor to kill Nagini. If nothing else, Neville deserves for you to see this:
Surprise! He's all grown up and totally handsome. Good for Neville.

Speaking of growing up, I think it's pretty interesting how Daniel Radcliff never really gets very tall and how that effects the Potter series. I think JK Rowling probably imagined Harry as growing older and becoming more manlike. Radcliff is totally short and remains kind of little-boyish (his future wife grew taller than him 3 movies ago). It makes his stand-off with Voldemort even a little more poignant because he's such a little guy. What if it were Cedric Diggory or even Ron? They turned out to look like grown men. Daniel Radcliff has a hobbit-like quality to him that makes him seem meek, even though he definitely comes of age in the series. His shortness is an attribute JK didn't plan on, and it changes the story. You can't help but imagine him now as you read. I think it would have been great if he had grown into a strapping young man. That's what I imagined when I first read the books before I knew Daniel Radcliff wouldn't grow. But it all worked out in the end. I'm just musing here.

About Dumbledore: I don't love how he is portrayed by Michael Gambon. I would much rather have seen Richard Harris finish the series. But he died. Was that some kind of real-life foreshadowing of Dumbledore's actual (and by actual I mean fictional) death? I really think JK Rowling got sick of everyone second-guessing her and worshiping Dumbledore and comparing him to Gandalf. I think she got sick of him and decided to stress the fallibility of Dumbledore, hence the foibles of his youth. It also seems really mean that he saved Harry to die like a pig for slaughter.  But he was a realist and he knew it had to go down like that. It's pretty sad--heartbreaking.

I guess relaying the message about dying like a pig for slaughter was really the only reason Snape stayed under cover so long. But I still feel he could have fought openly for the Order. I think Snape's flashback is about the best thing I've ever seen go from a book to the big screen. Couldn't there be a whole movie about Snape! Don't we all want to know more? And, really, was James Potter just a big jerk? The Lily's of this world never marry the Snapes, do they. I think the doe patronus is about the most beautiful torch anyone has ever carried for an old flame. See what I did there? Mixed metaphor. I actually did it out of laziness. You know what I mean though and it is the best part of the book.

Here here to the actors in part 2. I think it's called selflessness in actor-speak.  Many of them have no lines. I think Fred and George have one exchange before Fred dies. (Cry.) Tonks wordlessly reaches out to Remus (Cry) before they are seen among the dead at Hogwarts (Sob...Teddy!...Cry). Ron inconspicuously slinks into his first scene of the movie. No ego. All story. And lest you thought Helena Bonham Carter was just an enthusiastic evil freak--she does a pretty good Hermione too, under bite and all.  I have to say, Ralph Fiennes takes a little too much pleasure in playing Voldemort and I wouldn't have it any other way.

And now for the part that chokes me up every time I see it. It's when the teachers go outside to perform protective charms over Hogwarts. Especially when tiny Professor Flitwick extends his wand and murmurs, "Protego Maximus. . . " It's how I feel every day and it's what I'm all about--a tiny person of little consequence doing their best to protect the children in their care.

Am I immature for loving these movies and all movies that tell this story? I guess. But it gives me lots to talk about with 14 year olds--and that's not nothing.

I got Sam two tickets for him and a friend to go to the midnight showing of HP 7.2 on opening night. I asked him which friend he was going to take and he said, "Oh, are there 3 tickets here?"

I know I won't be his plus one forever (cry).

27 comments:

  1. if you cast a "protego maximus" spell before your kids left for school each day i'd wish to be adopted into your family.

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  2. You know that Snape's memories is my favorite, but my Favorite Scene From The Book I Wish They Hadn't Left Out is from that very scene: When Snape is searching for (and finds) in Sirius' room the scrap of paper which reads, in part, Lots of love, Lily.

    Snape's tragic. All around. He did have to stay undercover longer because it wasn't finished yet, and that's a tragedy because (among other things) it did contribute to Hogwarts turning so bleak. As for whether or not he'd have remained loyal to Voldemort's cause without Lily in the picture, we simply don't know: We sort too soon.

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  3. I also wonder if Neville was truly the chosen and Voldemort was misdirected in going after Harry. My husband and I keep re-hashing that possibility.

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  4. Amen and amen. Thank you.

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  5. Loved this post. Love your musings. And not gonna lie, that last part about Sam made me tear up a little. Could be the pregnant hormones, but still, so charming.

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  6. I guessed that Harry survived and conquered death because he was the master of the Deathly Hallows. He had the cape, Dumbledore left him the stone, and he mastered Draco's wand, which had previously killed Dumbledore who had the Elder wand. Maybe I'm getting facts confused. Now, I need to go back and reread it. Thanks a lot. That was sincere, by the way, not sarcastic.

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  7. "awwww" to your last few lines. so sweet.

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  8. I am with you on the good vs. evil thing and letting my kids watch all the movies you mentioned before I'd let them watch Smurfs. The good vs. evil battle is a real one and we are fighting it every day. I've had many of the same thoughts as you about the Harry Potter series but you made me think about some things that I hadn't before as well so thanks. And for the record the Protego Maximus scene gave me goosebumps. AND I did my share of crying at all the right parts of the movie and the book. Love reading your blog. Thanks for making me laugh (and cry).

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  9. Loved this post.

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  10. Scoresbys--I agree with you and that is how I understood it when I read the book. In the movie they make a point of showing Harry drop the stone so I wondered if they were emphasizing that he wasn't in possession of the 3 deathly hallows all at once. But for me Harry is the Master of the Deathly Hallows and it makes the most sense. Also, as a horcrux, was it harder to kill him? Has Harry been semi-invincible all this time?

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  11. I want to go back and re-read it all. What a gift of literature HP is to the world, really.

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  12. I thought Dumbledore mentions something about that protection charm from Lily. Something like, as long as it remains (in Voldemort's blood) in a living being, it protects Harry??? Idk. Worth a quick skim of that wonderful part where Harry gets to talk to Dumbledore after he dies.

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  13. How long is too long of a comment? I could talk about HP all day. If I weren't so lazy, I'd write essays about Harry Potter. I even have the titles!
    "Won't Someone Please Think of the Children: the impact of the Dark Arts on families." "Greater love hath no man: Dobby as savior."
    And my favorite, "The Good, the Bad, and the Rest of Us: Moral Ambiguity in the Wizarding World." That one would feature Snape. Because the thing is, he never cared about the Order, he cared about destroying Voldemort, but only because Voldemort killed Lily. Everything was about what Snape wanted. I assume he stayed under cover to finish the tasks Dumbledore gave him, but really, would the others believe him anyway? I wouldn't even trust his memories. And it's totally storytelling cheating that Voldemort didn't use Avada Kedavra on him so that Harry could get said memories, because he ALWAYS uses AK.
    As for the Chosen One, wasn't the point that Voldemort marked him as such when he tried to kill him? I think if he had gone after Neville, Neville would have had the same abilities as Harry. And although the sword can present to any worthy Griffyndor, I think that him killing Nagini is kind of an echo of the prophecy, as the other potential Chosen One. And of course, Harry knew the prophesy, so maybe that's why he told Neville to kill the snake (incidentally, how they did Harry/Neville/Nagini is my biggest book/movie differences annoyance).
    And dude. I was done with Michael Gambon when he lost his temper and yelled. Yelled. As though Dumbledore needs to raise his voice to control a room. Pshaw.

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  14. I love HP and the end of your post brought tears to my eyes. Luckily for us we have our own "protego maximus" spell we can say for our children... our prayers. I don't think there can be anything stronger than a mother's prayers for her children. :-)

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  15. I have to jump in to agree with Cathie about Dumbledore yelling. I didn't like the pearl-clutchy self-soothing rocking he did in Prisoner of Azkaban (so wrong for the character), but when he YELLED at Harry when his name came out of the goblet in Goblet of Fire? Done. He spent the next four movies making up for it. Why, oh why couldn't Richard Harris have the Hallows?

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  16. Ok seriously?!?!!? I started crying while reading this! I love HP. Sniff. Sniffle. And I love the "Protego Maximus". Oh brother. Now I have to go see it again. Awesome.

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  17. That is the part of the movie that gave me goosebumps. Immature? I don't think so. I love these books/movies more and more as I read them to my kids, but not because I am sharing something that is at their level and it's fun...it's just everything you want to share with your kids. Everything.

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  18. I loved this post. I don't think I could agree with you more! We just saw the movie yesterday again-- love it so much!!

    Oh, and as far as Neville being awesome goes: he was at a showing my sister went to in New York City (I think for the 4th movie) and she came away with the biggest crush on him! I think he's wonderful!

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  19. I think I need to re-read the books and then watch all the movies one after the other. What's going on in my mind is little "snapshots" here and there. It's not really very cohesive for me.

    I need another summer vacation!

    But your re-cap is inspiring!

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  21. Kacy! I feel like the I'm only one who has observed that the Harry/Neville mix up in the book has been imitated in real life my the actors. Daniel Radcliff certainly has received a lot of attention since the movies have begun. And as you pointed out never got very tall and therefore, never seems to have really grown up. But. BUT! Matthew Lewis (Neville) certainly came out shining in the end. He easily could have been the chosen one. I mean, have you SEEN pictures of him from the 7.2 movie premier? Look. (I like picture #2 in particular)

    Potterfugia: Hot Neville

    I'd definitely choose Hot Neville.

    Also, my biggest pet peeve in the movie is that they don't have Neville kill Nagini right after he pulls out the sword of Gryffindor from the hat, as he does in the book. It makes for a lot of lame chasing by Ron and Hermione, and a lesser victory in my mind. Neville killing Nagini in front of Voldemort & Co. is much more emotional and, just GOOD.

    Now I want to go back and reread it all!

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  22. (Sorry, I realize you HAVE indeed seen pictures of Hot Neville since you have one in your post. I meant to edit that part of my comment but forgot.)

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  23. Great synopsis. I love these books and movies too. You hit on all of my favorite moments, and questions, and wishes. And yes, Snape is my favorite, too. I read the whole series again the month before the last movie came out - and it's such a pleasure to be able to see the actors who play the characters in the books in my mind. Snape is probably the most perfect one. Or Hagrid. Maybe Belletrix. Ron? Hermione? Oh, I can't decide. Isn't just delicious to have lived during the unfolding of such a great series (both books, and movies)?

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  24. The answer to your question about whether Harry really died is asked and answered when Harry asks Dumbledore, in the death scene, whether the experience is all in his head, and Dumbledore asks something like, "Does it matter?" I think this means that whether Harry really died or not, his willingness to die, and his submitting to death, had the same powerful effect as if he literally died. It also successfully freed Harry from the Horcrux and enabled Voldemort to be vanquished. (Whether or not Harry literally died, the Horcrux did.) Beyond that, I think Dumbledore gives Harry the choice to believe it was real, but still leaves it a question of faith. (But it would have been a question of faith even if Dumbledore had asserted the experience was real--Harry could still choose to believe it was *only* in his head.)

    I agree with whoever said that Harry became the Chosen One because Voldemort chose him--but it's also because Harry chose to answer the call.

    I think James was hotheaded, proud, and quick to judge--much like Harry before he learns better. But James also had wonderful qualities that wouldn't show up in Snape's biased memory.

    My siblings and I had a LONG email conversation about HP before book 7 came out and had a lot of fun making predictions. (Far be it from me to mock you for loving to talk about HP.) A lot of our predictions were off, and a few were very close or even right on the mark. The one of mine that I'm still absurdly proud of was that the central mystery throughout all the books was what happens after death, and whether we'll be reunited with loved ones, and that Book 7 would have to answer that question. I think I even said "Maybe Harry will be the one to die." Of course, the book only answers the question by saying existence after death is probably true, but you have to believe--which is, I think, as far as Rowling's faith goes. She wants to believe, chooses to believe, and does believe to an extent--but still experiences doubt. Which is something we can all relate to.

    Rereading my first paragraph I realized Rowling could also be saying that whether or not it was in Harry's head, the outcome is the same so it doesn't matter. But I don't think remembering loved ones in your mind is the same as their truly still existing, so I part ways with Rowling if that's what she meant. (And I like to think it's not.) I've always thought the saying "Your loved one is never really gone as long as your carry them in your memory and heart" is woefully unsatisfying, because our memories are short and incomplete, and our hearts are fallible.

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  25. Just had a couple more thoughts and thought I might as well go for the gusto:

    Although I just said that hearts and memories are an incomplete way to preserve someone's existence, it's still true that when Harry makes his last sacrifice by allowing Voldemort to kill him, he redeems not just himself BUT his father, as he becomes truly the son that James would have wanted him to be and fulfills his father's destiny of giving all to fight evil. Snape also redeems the ancient feud with James by protecting James' son (even if he does it for Lily). So three generations end up being healed and redeemed, since Harry passes on Snape's name and teaches his son the same kindness and forgiveness that he's finally learned.

    ---
    Here's one more utterly random unrelated bit of trivia: I have a sister named Lili, and there's a song in the musical The Secret Garden where a bereaved husband sings about how hard it is to look at his niece's eyes because she has "My Lily's hazel eyes." (My sister has hazel-ish eyes. And my daughter is named Hazel, but she has blue eyes.) And then there's all the stuff in Harry Potter about Harry having his mother Lily's eyes--so, basically my sister's eyes have gotten a lot of mentions in song and literature.

    I lied, here's even one more thing. In response to Cathie, I'm almost positive that I read something Rowling said about how the classic hero quest always has the hero losing his mentor and having to end the quest alone, so it sounded like she always meant to kill of Dumbledore.

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  26. I of course meant kill *off* Dumbledore.

    (Thanks for the writing prompt. This was a fun way to spend my midnight-to-1AM hour.)

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