I have spent the past couple of weeks borrowing the older movies from the library and watching them again. After I finished reading Deathly Hallows I felt the need to review the history. The first three movies were somewhat boring. I found them childish and trite. Hermione's character really annoyed me. I can't stand when female actors rely completely on expressions of negative emotion to display character. Hermione is always irritated, annoyed, angry or frustrated. She hasn't much depth in the first three movies. Ron is really shallow too - he's just a bumbling fool playing side kick.
But when I watched The Goblet of Fire the other day I was much more impressed. I really liked how Hermione came into herself. She had a far greater range of emotion. At the Yule Ball she showed some delicate blossoming. Ron is still an idiot, but he also showed some depth in subtle facial expression. He realizes his weaknesses and works to overcome them, even taking risks at being rejected in order to restore friendships.
The actors are growing up and getting better at their craft. I really like how the friendship between Hermione and Harry is developed. Their interchanges seem genuine and tender. At times I began to forget it was a movie, which never happened in the first three portrayals. I wonder if I like this movie better than the first three because I am a grown up and a mother; I am interested in the coming-of-age theme more than the magic/wizarding/fantasy elements.
Order of the Phoenix is the best one yet. I was glad they all had better hair cuts (mom speaking here). I felt so sorry for Harry in his loneliness and confusion. I cried several times, particularly in the scenes when he is with Sirius having heart to heart talks. I can see Harry being nurtured by the adults at Hogwarts more than I noticed before. He is clearly loved and cared for as a person and not just a savior/sacrificial lamb/superhero. His sweet personality shines.
As a teacher I was intrigued by the scenes where the professors are arguing or challenging each other. It puts me on red alert when Prof. McGonigall and Dolores Umbridge go head to head on the stairs in front of the students. I wanted to tell them to go in an office or something. It was heartbreaking when Umbridge fired poor Trelawney in front of everyone. I thought Snape did the best job of showing his complexity in this movie. He clearly was on the good side and helped Potter out even though you could see he hated Harry's father because of the way he was bullied in childhood.
Dolores Umbridge takes the cake though. She is my worst nightmare; you know how Harry is afraid he is like Voldemort and turning into him? Well I am sometimes afraid I could turn into Umbridge. She is so evil and clever and hateful. She enjoys a pink frosting of pleasantries on top of her wicked satisfaction with causing pain. She gives me chills. If I ever go to the dark side I will be her student.
I think that David Yates, who directed Order of the Phoenix and is starting to film Half Blood Prince in the fall, did a fantastic job in this movie. I think it is true to the book and far more challenging, thoughtful and poignant than the first three movies. I haven't read through all the books again this summer so I am wondering if this impression is valid. Has anyone else read all the books and seen all the movies this summer? What did you think about how they were done on screen?
Notes about diversity: Watching the movies I paid a lot more attention to racial/ethnic diversity than I did while reading. Perhaps because it is visual? Some of my random thoughts:
- I liked Kingsley's character and I wish he had more of an active role with speaking parts.
- I noticed that at the Yule Ball in Goblet Harry, Ron and Cedric all had Asian women for dates. I never saw an Asian man in any of the movies, did you? I wondered about the stereotypes of Asian women and if that had any influence in the roles.
- I didn't see any blacks at the Yule ball at all. Did you?
- I wish some of the major characters were other than white. None of the heroes or bad guys were anything but Caucasian. I read a review saying HP is multi-culti because of the muggles and half bloods, but I don't think that applies.
- What about international students? Was there a presence at Hogwarts of any International student activities or clubs? Wouldn't you expect that?
- There were several black students in the background at Hogwarts. I wondered if they have a Black Student Union. Just an odd thought that ran through my mind.
- I wonder if there are any gay/lesbian wizards? Do they have a GLBT group?