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Twenty years on: rekindling the JK Rowling magic

Twenty years on: rekindling the JK Rowling magic

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

It is scarcely credible to think that Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is 20 years old this year. It is just as incredible to realise that in all that time I have only read it the once. Until now.

I figured that it was time for a long overdue re-read, and I was right. Reading the first adventure ten years after the last, and with all the films having gone between it was surprising how much of the detail of the book I had forgotten. It was near to halfway through the book before Harry had even arrived at Hogwarts, met Hermione, and been ‘sorted’ (still longer before he and Hermione became friends) but the pace was perfect througout.

I have always thought that some of the longer, later books could have done with more of an edit, and a tightening up of the story, because I think that this, the original, had that, and it shows.

The only question that remains for me now, is when to re-read book two? Sooner rather than later or pretend that it was as it was at the beginning and treat myself to one a year as Harry, Ron, and Hermione grow up and go through the Hogwarts years. After all, that, I think, is how they should be read by everyone rather than binging on them in almost one sitting.

The Dark Arts

The last time there was a new Harry Potter film out, there was also the release of the last of the books which I was devouring. I also remember going to see The Order of the Phoenix post-interview in Didcot, driving on down the M4 to Maidenhead to see it with my then girlfriend.

Two years on, and tonight I went to see the film with Emma, now my wife, in Oxford with Lucy and David and some other people I hadn’t met before.

It was good. In fact actually I think this film was better than the last – less of the whizz-bang reliance on the set piece special effects scenes, and more gentle, building, characterization with some wonderful cinematography.

Where this film fails, is that as a film I am not convinced that it works without prior knowledge of the books. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this (the last film also suffered from the same problem in a way that the first four did not) but this The Half Blood Prince more than anyone just adds colour to what you already have read in the books. Also this film doesn’t really go anywhere (other than the next film). The story just builds and builds, all very nice, but then suddenly it climaxes and is ending; none of the three act setup here.

Still good fun though! 🙂

In July 2005…

Two years ago I was in Romania for the launch of Harry Potter 6 – the university town of Timisoara to be precise. On that occasion I bought the latest installment of the Hogwarts’ adventure for a little over 1 million Leu at approximately 10am in an English bookshop built into the old bastille. Today, at approximately 10am I receive a text message from my Mum to say that my Amazon order has arrived at my brother’s ready for me to collect on route up to Norfolk for a long weekend.

Just 30 pages to go of Gregory McGuire’s Wicked and then I can relax and think about packing for the weekend. Not that I will need a lot if I’m going to be reading most of the time… 🙂

Comfort and sadness

After a gorgeously sunny start to today, as the hours have progressed, the greyer it became until rain overtook us. With raindrops on the window, and filled with the comforting fill of my roast lamb dinner, I settled down to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Sometimes with films, they do not live up to a repeat viewing, but this, was great – right down to the shocking, cold, sadness of the ending; the jubilation of success tinged by the truth of the death.

My only regret is that this dvd presentation is made exactly how the cinema release was. When you’ve seen the deleted scenes on the second disk, you kind of wish that they had cut them back into the film, and made an ‘Extended Edition’.

I think I shall make a Thomas’ Special Hot Chocolate potion and settle back and watch another fantastic presentation – Planet Earth

†Recipe available upon request.