21 July 2009

Two years: The magic of our world

Two years ago, I had finished the last book of the series that has changed my life more than I could ever imagine. I'd stayed up all night to read the book, and excitement and adrenaline kept me awake until 4 in the afternoon, when I collapsed out of exhaustion on my bed. I was still processing everything that had occurred, and itching to start reading the book again so I could go and reread storylines and find hints and see what little things I missed. I would still tear up when I remembered Fred dying. I DESPERATELY wanted to discuss the book with someone, but two people in my house had yet to finish the book, which made that little bit impossible.

Now, two years later, I've had more than enough opportunity to discuss Deathly Hallows in detail with almost EVERYONE. I've traveled far outside my home state, by myself, to enjoy life and talk and laugh and experience with people who welcome me. Oh, how far we've come.

July 21st, 1997, and no one had heard of you. Now one decade later there's queues at the door, people placing their orders and shouting for more. How far you have come. How far you have come. RiddleTM

12, 10, or 5 years ago, everyone reading this note discovered Harry Potter. Maybe it was introduced or recommended to us, or maybe we found it on our own. Some of you resisted at first. But somewhere, whether at the end of the 1st book, or a little farther along, we all fell in love with the story and the characters and the love and friendship inside the books. Somewhere along the way, every one of us was captured by the magic of these books.

I myself discovered the books in July 2000 at the age of 7. I never would have guessed back then when I was playing Harry Potter with my neighbors that I would still be discussing the books and dressing up as characters 9 long years later. But something, something about these books has caught me. Kept me wanting more, kept me wanting to spread the love and the power behind these books.

And we grow up with Harry the Boy Who Lived who has helped us through all the bad times. RiddleTM

I really do feel as though I grew up with Harry and his friends, making many of the same mistakes they did and learning about life and love and growing up and responsibility right along with them. As the tone of the books got darker, and Harry realized a little more about the cruelty and also beauty of life, I did this also. And, honestly, Harry has helped me through ALL the hard times. Whether I was sad, upset, confused, lonely, or lost, those books helped me. If not to cheer me up, certainly to let me get lost in a different world, focusing on the characters and their lives instead of mine.

I never would have dreamed even 5 years ago that there was a whole community of people full of love and light and laughter and acceptance, who all loved Harry Potter to pieces. I still can't believe it when I go to a fandom event and am suddenly surrounded by so much love and hugging and welcome.

For so many years, there was no place I felt like I truly fit in. I had a small group of friends, but I didn't feel like they really UNDERSTOOD me, as cliche as that sounds. I'm not saying I had an awful life, but I certainly never had what I have now. My friends in the fandom are like none of my other friends. They love me no matter what, they are there to support me, they don't judge me for any of my ideas or mistakes I make. They are ALWAYS happy to see me. And the hugs--that's one thing that is so different and that I miss whenever I'm not with the fandom.

I know I wouldn't be the same person I am today if I hadn't discovered the HP books and the loving community that surrounds them. I've traveled far outside my comfort zone and done so many things I never would have done otherwise. I've learned that you don't have to be famous to be friends or talk to a famous person. I've seen so much about life, and I've learned that ANYONE can make a difference in the world through any small gesture. More than anything, Harry Potter has taught me to love myself for who and what I am--and to not judge myself to harshly for what I'm not. It's taught me that most people don't care about the little things, as long as you are there for them. It's taught me the importance of friendship and trust and love and the willingness to fight. :D More than anything, it has shown me what a true friend is and how to be one.

Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open. Dumbledore, Goblet of Fire

This quote applies so much to our fandom. I'm friends with people of all ages, all different religions, backgrounds, beliefs, and ideas about the world. But our love and our hope that we can change the world transcends every other difference that might otherwise separate us. No matter who we are, we all believe that we need to fight evil in the real world. Judgment doesn't occur often in the fandom, because we are accepted for WHO WE ARE and no one else. For many of us, including me, the fandom was the first place we found real friends. And because of this, it's hard to not accept someone as a friend--because people here are kind and sweet and generous and caring and accepting. To turn down a friend like that doesn't make any sense when we have so few other friends.

"It was important, Dumbledore said, to fight and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated..." Half Blood Prince

The Harry Potter Alliance is one of the most beautiful and giving charities I know of, all with a foundation around the love in the Harry Potter books. The weapon we have IS love, and we can use it to fight poverty and sickness and genocide and injustice all over the world. It may not always work, but all we can do is keep fighting if we hope to keep the world a better place for everyone.

It's an end of an era, and I'm seeing clearer that nothing will ever be the same Oliver Boyd and the Remembralls

This line is true. Nothing was the same after Deathly Hallows came out. But, not in a bad way. For me, Deathly Hallows opened the path to journey into the part of the fandom that only occurs when a bunch of true fans gather in one place. It took me out of just participating online and threw me into meeting people and making lifelong friends. It showed me that I could be loved and accepted by other people. It thrust me out of my comfort zone, traveling to meet people and discuss books and present my own ideas about the connection inside the Harry Potter books. I can't believe how far I've come, how far we've all come, since that first day we journeyed with Harry on the Hogwarts Express and were opened to the world of magic and love.

Farewell, now, Jo, we wish you the best
As first generation readers, we are blessed
We will always love you and Harry
There will be nothing said to the contrary.
A line from my poem, The Final World

None of us got an acceptance letter to Hogwarts when we turned 11. I know I was disappointed by this. But, in a way, we did all receive an acceptance letter of a different kind: an acceptance letter into the fandom, to join in the fun and laughter and hugs and joy. We have created Hogwarts for ourselves, have created Harry's world ourselves. We don't need the spells and potions, because our love creates the magic for us in our world. Jo's creation has become something much larger I think than anyone could have imagined, for we have created it for her in the real world, with magic coming from our hearts rather than our wands.

It's beautiful, and I thank the universe every day that I am a part of it.

I love you. Every one of you. Thank you so much!

17 July 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince movie review

I realized as I was about to post this that this OBVIOUSLY contains spoilers. I'd think you would realize that since it's a REVIEW, but I don't want to make anyone mad. So:

*funny noise John makes on PotterCast*


*end funny noise*

So, I hoped to write this after I had first seen the movie at midnight Wednesday. Well, not RIGHT after, but after I'd gotten my 3 hours of sleep. However, since I saw it for a second time last night, I think a lot of my opinions will be better processed now, without the excitement of seeing it at a midnight premiere and only 3 hours of sleep. Wow. Okay, long introduction to why I have yet to write this...ON TO THE BLOG!!!!

Overall, I very much liked it for what it was: A Harry Potter movie. I think a lot of people judge them too harshly. THEY AREN'T THE BOOKS. And they'll never be the books--be as good or as thorough or anything as the books. I like both the books and the movies, but as ENTIRELY SEPARATE entities. I love the books more (obviously), but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate the effort and the fact that they are very good movies as far as movies go.

I agree with people who say it's the best Potter yet. They included the most important IDEAS from the book. Not necessarily details or scenes, but they got across the ideas and themes of the book much better than they have for any other Potter movie. By this, I mean:
They got across the fact that Malfoy is not really a Death Eater. He hesitates, doesn't really want to, and really just wants to save his family. I LOVE TOM FELTON.
They got across the Harry/Dumbledore relationship very well. Congratulations, Michael Gambon. FOR ONCE, you didn't screw it up.
They included Hermione's jealousy.
They at least included how much Harry liked Ginny. I didn't like how they portrayed Harry/Ginny very much, but more on that later.
They got across the Half-Blood Prince thing. And left you wondering if Snape was good or evil.
Mmm...Horcruxes. Well, at least they talked about it. But...they also left a lot of loose ends that I have no clue how they're going to tie up in the next movie.

I mean, there are some things I'm confused about and that I didn't like. But I think I have to wait until the last movie--because they might tie up these loose ends and I just can't figure out how, but they have figured out how. My only REALLY big one is:

How the heck is Harry supposed to know what the Horcruxes are and where to look for them?!
Dumbledore quote from the movie: They could be anything. The most commonplace of objects.
NononononononononoNO. *shakes head vigorously* That is the exact opposite of what Dumbledore said in the book! The Horcruxes are very specific things, that Tom Riddle/Voldemort chose for a reason. And Harry's supposed to be looking for things from the founders--the cup and something unknown from Ravenclaw. I mean, I could care less whether they include the specific memory Harry saw to show him these things, but Dumbledore could at least MENTION "Oh, and I believe Voldemort chose things from the founders for his Horcruxes because he felt a special connection with Hogwarts." That took me 5 SECONDS TO SAY. It's not hard to include!

So, I don't know how Harry's going to know what to look for in the next movie. How does he know the snake's a Horcrux? How does he know about the founder thing? Jokingly, I said that Hermione will probably just figure it all out because that's what they do in the movies. And maybe they will do that. I just think that was a very big thing to leave out of the movie, and I'm really not sure how they're going to "fix it" in Deathly Hallows in a non-stupid way.

One other thing I was confused about was how they're going to establish that Harry now owns Kreacher and Sirius' house...I mean, this one is easier to fix with some finding of Sirius' will or mentioning of, but...I'm just not sure.

Now, on to my comment about Harry/Ginny. One big criticism I have is that the movie was too Ron/Hermione oriented, and not enough on Harry/Ginny.It did a good job establishing how much HARRY liked Ginny, but they never really started their relationship, and they never ended their relationship...you know, since it never happened. And, I mean, I know the book talks about both relationships...but in the book really all that is shown is Hermione's jealousy and how much SHE likes Ron. Ron doesn't really come to realize how much he likes Hermione until he leaves during Deathly Hallows. I mean, really, Half-Blood Prince was very much a Harry/Ginny book (with Ron and Lavender's obnoxious relationship in there too) and Deathly Hallows was when Ron and Hermione's relationship REALLY finally was established as fact.

But, I suppose this isn't something that is a huge deal in the grand scheme of the movies and the next movie. It was just something that very much bothered me... :D And I think...unless I want to get super nitpicky, those were the things that really bothered me about the movie.

I thought Michael Gambon finally did a rather good job.* I'm not entirely sure if this is because Michael Gambon decided to act better, or because the screenwriter wrote Dumbledore better in the script so that Gambon would play him better, but it doesn't really matter either way. The ending of the movie was wonderful. He did an AMAZING job in the cave, drinking the potion, and later on top of the tower. The casual chatting with the Death Eaters was PERFECT. It really did seem just like someone who knew they had to die.

And Tom Felton was PHENOMENAL. He's such a lovely actor, and he did such a good job as Malfoy! The crying in the bathroom, the dueling scene with Harry, the scene on the train, and the scene on top of the tower were all perfect, and I am so thankful that he's the one who plays Malfoy, because he's wonderful. =)

In general, all the actors have grown so much both as people and as actors. The movies keep getting better, and I've heard wonderful things about Deathly Hallows, including that Bill and Fleur's weddding is there, Umbridge is there, and the Battle of Hogwarts is 30 minutes long. Certainly, I'm not going to make any harsh criticisms about the movie series until I've seen the last Deathly Hallows movie and see how they finish out the series. :)

And, yes, I've already seen it twice.** I'm seeing it at least twice more--once with my friend Colleen on the 27th, and then in IMAX for my friend's birthday. If you have yet to see it, and for whatever reason you read this entire blog post despite the spoiler warnings, GO SEE IT. NOW.

Finally...yeah. Sorry it's been so long. So much for BEDA teaching me to write more often. ;) I'll really try to write more blogs--I'm considering trying BEDAugust, but it depends how that goes once school starts up again halfway through the month. We'll see.

Cheers! DFTBA!

*I'm not saying he was amazing. But he didn't screw things up, and actually managed to seem like Dumbledore from the books.
**I needed to process everything without the excitement of a midnight premiere. Plus...I just wanted to see it again. =)