Thursday, 16 July 2009

Somethingly Ever After

The new Harry Potter movie has made enough of a splash in the media that one can hardly help being aware of it. Given that Harry Potter articles are one of the reasons I originally started reading newspapers (I used to skim through the headlines only paying attention to anything mentioning Harry Potter) I probably had even less chance of being unaware of the new movie.

The funny thing is that while reading about Harry Potter used to excite me, it evokes a sort of sadness more than anything now. It could be that I don't trust them to make the movie right and it's a 'desecration' of my beloved books. I don't think it's that, though, because I'm not really all that attached to the series any more. Besides, the Lord of the Rings movies don't upset me that way.

It could be a disappointment that the series is finally finished. I will never again spend hours arguing with my sister about what will happen in the next book. We know who R.A.B. is. Harry has found all the horcruxes. The one thing we agreed was impossible has happened: Ron and Hermione got married.

That's certainly part of what I feel. I don't think it's all though. I was unhappy when I finished reading The Lord of the Rings, but I got over it and discovered that rereading it the second time was nearly as good. On the other hand, I simply don't feel like rereading Harry Potter after the articles I've been reading. The whole concept seems rather depressing.

What I don't like about Harry Potter is the happy ending.

It took me a long time to accept that an unhappy ending is a valid conclusion to a story and I'm still a long way from particularly enjoying unhappy endings, although I can see that they work very well in some cases. When I read Deathly Hallows I was glad that things had worked out so pleasantly.

I still don't subscribe to the school of thought that said Harry should have died - especially not the one that said he should have died almost regardless of what actually happened in Deathly Hallows. It's a series of children's books, after all.

I do think the ending would have been better if it had been a little more bittersweet. It had all the potential for that, right up to the prologue. There was war and people died. They were really dead, even if Harry did meet Dumbledore in that freaky King's Cross scene. Good triumphed over evil, but at great cost.

And then everybody got over it and life went on as always. Which is a bit anticlimactic. They lived happily ever after. Harry named his kids after the people who had died, and that totally made up for it. In my mind, something bigger should have happened. There should have been some sort of immutable change to show us that what had happened had meaning.

Deathly Hallows lacks that bittersweet change. I think it's because the world of Harry Potter has no higher authority. It's like the law of conservation of energy. The world can move things around within itself, but it can't pull itself up by its own shoelaces. Some books recognise this and are poignantly sad. Some books recognise that there is a higher authority; that what is bitter in this world may be sweet in the next. Harry Potter tries to sit in the middle, and so it fails to satisfy me.

(For the record, I still think the Harry Potter books make great reading material. They just don't make my top-of-the-top list.)

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