Sunday, November 7, 2010

Amazing boy wizard

This should probably be a John Wall article. He has been electrifying in his first handful of games in the NBA. The 29,13,9 game was outstanding even though it included 8 turnovers. That will happen to a first year point guard. Wall will take his lumps, he’ll shoot 33% from the floor some games, but he’ll be the best thing to happen to Washington basketball since Gilbert was still fun and lovable.

But I digress, because this article is not about John Wall. It is not about basketball, or even sports at all in fact. The nerd inside me is forced to preview part 7.1 of the most popular movie series going today: Harry Potter.

By the numbers, I believe Harry Potter will go down, after these final two films, as technically the most popular movie series of all time. The money grossed is...gross really. I shouldn’t complain though, because I am a fan.

Part one of the seventh Harry Potter tale, the Deathly Hallows, comes out in roughly two weeks. Part two will come out in 2011. Where will the book be divided? What story arcs will be in the first film, and which are saved for the second? Will the movie stay completely chronological or will they mix and match for the best viewing experience? What will be different about the ending of the book (that doesn’t really lend itself to be in the movie at all)? These are just some of the questions I am pondering prior to the movie’s release.

I have a friend who plans on waiting to see the first film until right before the second film is released. The idea being to not punish yourself by sitting through half a story. It’s like watching a television drama and waiting each week for the next episode. It is much more satisfying to watch a couple per week on DVD or on demand. The story just carries itself better that way.

However, a plan to wait six or seven months to see HP 7.1 will, obviously, fail miserably. It is quite possible to wait on seeing a movie, sure. I still have never seen Avatar. However, the difference is, I never wanted to see Avatar. And then it got to the point where I deliberately did not want to see it just because. But with Harry Potter, you want to see it. You just don’t want to wait so long for part two.

Isn’t it quite odd that a movie can be this popular, create this much buzz (the Harry Potter series as a whole) but everyone already knows how it ends. Does this conundrum exist in any other line of entertainment? Would the best rated sporting events be ones where all the fans already know who wins? Would a TV show become popular if the first episode aired was the series finale? Would people even read books if they knew how the story and characters all developed beforehand? The answer is no. But with movies, it’s just different.

So many of the most popular movies ever are derived from books, which implies that at least a majority of viewers already know how it will end. This is an odd fact. Of course little details change from one form of media to the other. However, the story often remains exactly the same. Before seeing Gone With the Wind, people already knew Rhett Butler wouldn’t give a damn because they read it in Margaret Mitchell’s book. Before seeing The Godfather, people already knew Vito was going to get shot because they read it in Mario Puzo’s book.

Although Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows may not perhaps be remembered as one of the five greatest films of all time like those two examples, the analogy remains the same. People already know Harry “wins.” So why all the excitement?

I don’t know the answer. I have no idea why movies can be so popular adapting plot and characters from other media. It may be as simple as people like following characters they know and will put up with knowing how a story ends just to enjoy the journey of getting there.

That’s how I feel at least. I can’t wait to see the scene in Gringotts Bank. I already know the three friends escape with the horcrux, but I am still excited. I can’t wait to see how the film portrays Xenophilius Lovegood. I already know he’s a kook but I am still excited. And finding the hallows, and visiting Harry’s hometown, and the battle at Hogwarts...We know how it all turns out, but I am still excited.

I guess that’s the power of a great story or great characters. Even if we know their beginning, middle and end, we still want to go along with them as they travel it. I, for one, will not be waiting to see the Deathly Hallows part one. Why put off my own enjoyment any longer than necessary? It’s not like it’ll ruin the ending for me.

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