Thursday, July 26, 2007

'If the real world is full of magic, the magic world could also be real.'

My relationship with Harry Potter has been a long one.

A trying one.

A winding one.

A crippling one.

A loving one.

What began as a school-girl’s bleary eyed fantasies over glasses of milk, ( I read ‘ Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ when I was 12, sleepy, and for some reason inexplicably happy) finally culminated into a night-long emotional extravaganza last week.
Passion, really, does not follow regulations.
I rather prefer it that way.
My opinions about anything to do with Harry potter are grossly partial, romanticized and extremely larger than life. Review, thus, is a tall order. Gushing, though, is not.
'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' opens with the usual scene in Privet Drive and ends in the King’s Cross Station - 9 and 3 quarters. Ordinary magical stuff? Well, people had had their dose of speciality in the 600 odd pages between. Unlike most of the previous books, where Rowling starts slowly in an almost drowsy pace, and THEN builds up the tension to culminate into a stupendous finale, is missing. In the seventh and the final installment of the phenomenon that is Harry Potter, it is action from the word go. Broomsticks whizzz, curses fly, voldemort swoops and injured people tumble down to the haven that is The Burrow – all within the first few chapters.
Setting out to answer all the other questions which peppered the earlier novels, Rowling, however masterfully creates situations, events and characters so excruciatingly alive that she ultimately manages to maneuver the story away from the tiring question-answer session it very well might have become. It answers questions, but at its own pace. And on its way, it breaks certain stereotypes, for good. Dumbledore is subtly brought down(he is NOT the very normal, very talented , squeaky clean headmaster any more), Ron gets shades of grey, and well…the culmination of every thing magical manages to create one of the most misplaced and misjudged characters on this side of the magical fence.

“I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you.
Everything was supposed to be to keep Lily Potter’s son safe. Now you tell me
you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter—”
“But this is touching, Severus,” said Dumbledore seriously. “Have you grown
to care for the boy, after all?”
“For him?” shouted Snape. “Expecto Patronum!”
From the tip of his wand burst the silver doe. She landed on the office floor,
bounded once across the office, and soared out of the window. Dumbledore
watched her fly away, and as her silvery glow faded he turned back to Snape,
and his eyes were full of tears.
“After all this time?”
“Always,” said Snape.

Deathly Hallows is a bloodbath. Perhaps more than was necessary. Check.
It is overtly mushy at times. Check.
Certain parts of the plot lack conviction. Check.
There are some loose ends. (e.g. Harry’s presence during Snape’s death was a huge co-incidence. Yet the plot hinged enormously on it.) Check.
The ending seems rather rushed and not befitting a phenomenal 10 year old saga. Check.
Ron’s reaction to the horcrux around his neck seems straight out of Lord of the Rings. Check.
The magic is there no more. Checkmate.

Because that is precisely what there is. Magic. In intense quantities. Loose ends notwithstanding, Rowling still manages to tell us a story which makes us want to forgive her for all her flaws. Because through dark and gloom, the story is one which never gives up on its hope. ( I love the scene where Neville, the underdog forever, comes out to fight, even after seeing Harry’s dead body). Because it points out that throughout it all, the important things are not spells and chants, but the ‘magical’ emotions of love, friendship( Luna’s bedroom ceiling was a wonderful touch) and well, hatred(Voldemort-Harry relationship. Hatred is needed sometimes)?Because at the end of the day, the books spell out a world tantalizingly close, but not really close enough. A world people can find, if they just look beyond what is ordinary.
A decade long journey ends in this book. Khattam shud.
But the magic doesn’t.
Because magic is a powerful word.
A powerful world.

The scar had not pained Harry for 19 years. All was well.

p.s. it is intensely difficult to write something about Harry Potter without giving away the key elements in the plot. I have tried to, but failed miserably.

p.p.s. there are lots more I want to say. Like how the entire Pure Blood brouhaha reminds me of the Third Reich, like how the wizarding world’s relationship with the centaurs and merpeople and goblins and house-elves remind me of a colonial history long past, like how the apparent heroes are not always heroes all the time (James Potter is an arrogant ass), like how a plot which hinges on an unrequited childhood love (which makes me teary-eyed no doubt), is perhaps a teeny bit impractical. But well, I shall reserve these for some other day.

p.p.s. Well, I change my mind. Childhood though it may be, love is, quite ALWAYS, impractical.

p.p.p.s. What started out to be review ended up being a gush-fest. Much apologies once again.


panu said...

well, James potter was an arrogant ass. and the other one is too.

Heathcliff Ranting... said...


make me want to read them all.

The none said...

Gush-fest? True!! But then it's quite apt to gush about something that has changed the notion of popular literature all over the muggle world. As for me, I agree that there are quite a few loose ends, Voldemort didn't turn to be the villain I expected him to be, the epilogue sucks, the tragic element looses its intensity and bla bla bla. But the development of Snape and Dumbledore's characters more than make up for it. And leaving apart all the critical parts, Deadly Hallows is the end of an era(wishfully!!), of a saga that started way back in my teens, a legacy called Harry Potter. The boy lives and the world lives too, but it won't ever be the same. I wish Voldemort lived too!!!!!! :-P

Heathcliff Ranting... said...

I luuuuuuuuuuuurrrrv VOLDEMORT...

for the actor of course.;).. what were u think???:P

BOIPOKA said...

@ The None...

do you really think that Potter "has changed the notion of popular literature all over the muggle world"?? I have my own doubts...previously also, we have read Terry Pratchett's Discworld series, Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl... we've found Roald Dahl with his Charlie series (and also, of course, Matilda...)... as far as literature is concerned, these books can safely be listed as Children's Classics... but now, when this Pottermania sweeps over the world, I wonder how much of this is efficient marketing strategy... I'm not saying that the Harry Potter books are not good (though I've not continued after The Goblet of Fire)...All I want to say is that it is nothing very extraordinary or phenomenal, rather, it is well within the tradition of children literature...

arjun said...

Guess Rowling has had a little bit of help from a childhood love affair in this piece. If one takes the glasses of milk and the sleepy schoolgirl out of the picture, the colours might just be a little harsher. IMHO, the book is a mine of opportunities that were lost. The horcruxes, which were so painstakingly and elaborately built up in the last book were not utilized a lot. The hallows were somehow very shallow. And the Dumbledore-Snape relation had a lot of potential as did the R.A.B. and the epilogue was an absolute let down. Problem with good things is that you start to expect too much from them. So before I close, a cheer to Rowling for a fascinating time.. only wish the denouement lived upto my expectations!

porphyria said...

i LOVE potter...
n i LOVE-LOVE your gushfest/review/ranting about it...
n i LOVE-LOVE-LOVE the graphics of ur blog!!