Thursday, September 06, 2007

Potter, grass, and existential crises

Today I saw a movie in a theater for the first time in over two years.

It was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and today was the last day for it anywhere within a 40-mile radius. I was one of four people at the 12:40 showing.

It was good. The things that they cut out could easily fill several other movies. I feel very sorry for anyone who is experiencing this story through the movies alone, since so much stuff simply makes no sense without the context and exposition in the books. I liked the portrayal of Luna Lovegood, one of my favorite characters, and Alan Rickman was once again fan-friggin'-tastic as Severus Snape, playing the character with far greater depth than Rowling ever wrote. Michael Gambon redeemed his shallow performance in the last movie with an extremely physical performance that would have been impossible for Richard Harris at this point, even if he were not currently dead. The Order of the Phoenix barely made an appearance, and Sirius's magic mirror - the focal point of Harry's extreme guilt, and a key item in the final book - is completely absent. "Weasley Is Our King" and Ron's Quiddich ascendancy are skipped over, as is the fact that Ron and Hermione made Prefects - and Harry did not. We never see Luna in her roaring lion hat. Dolores Umbridge is the single most evil character anywhere.

After that, I came home, ate a late lunch/early supper, and mowed the lawn. It took a few hours, and the last bit was done in the dark, partly delayed by a neighbor who came over to congratulate me on catching the groundhog. (A groundhog, I pointed out, who may now have vengeful friends and relatives prowling the neighborhood.)

I have become aware of several people in my circle of bloggers who are undergoing existential crises. Having just come through one myself, I can empathize. I intend to write up a post summarizing my own experience at some point.

My crisis - hell, it's not over, and it may never be over - took an odd turn yesterday when I came across this article in Newsweek about the tragic suicides of Jeremy Blake and Theresa Duncan, two very creative, talented, and successful Generation X artists and netizens who apparently descended into madness and paranoia in a folie a deux, a shared delusion. I started off knowing how the story would end, but as I read about the lives of these people, lives that sounded so much like the life I would choose if I had the opportunity, I hoped that somehow things would turn out for the best. They did not. (More on this couple, and a criticism of the Newsweek article, can be found here.)

So there you have it. I had planned to spend the night at my house tonight, but the lawn took longer that I had planned. So it looks like maybe tomorrow night. Now I'm off to call a friend.


Marc said...

I've sat through Order of the Phoenix 4 times now and the only character that interests me is Luna.

The advantage of never reading the books is that you can watch the movie and not regret the things they left out.

Jennifer said...

I'm one of those who hasn't read any of the HP books. My feeling about Order of the Phoenix is that it seemed like the fifth movie in the series. In other words, they had to make it to get from 4 to 6. I've liked the other ones, though.