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Tony Grist

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Heretical Thoughts [Jul. 17th, 2005|10:40 am]
Tony Grist
I've seen a couple of the Potter films- they're fun.

But I don't feel particularly drawn to those characters or that world. Maybe it's because I went to a boarding school- and have no wish to go back- not even in my imagination.

And life is too short for 600 page books- unless they're by Dickens.

Besides you guys can keep me abreast of what's happening. **********'s dead- right?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2005-07-17 03:13 am (UTC)
Hey, that's no heresy. I felt much the same only as recently as last Xmas. What converted me was a combination of fancying Alan Rickman and chatting to friends who were very into it, and knew all sorts of exciting things about people's allegiances and motivations which I hadn't picked up on even from seeing all three films.

TBH, I don't actually think the main characters are all that compelling, although some of the secondary ones like Snape and, yes, **********, are more interesting. What matters to me is the carefully structured plot, and once you've got into that, nothing can put you off! (Especially once you find out that some of the characters can read each other's minds. I think that was what really hooked me). Quite frankly, JKR could have written this latest book in note form, or as a series of bullet-points, and I'd have been perfectly happy - just so long as she tells us who knows what, who believes what and what happens!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-17 03:51 am (UTC)
Hmm- mindreading: that sounds interesting. I didn't pick that up from the movies.

And I must say i hadn't considered the series as a long drawn out exercise in plotting.

You've gone a long way towards converting me.
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[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2005-07-17 04:40 am (UTC)
I do beg your pardon! I didn't actually mean to go converting anyone - just to explain.

The mindreading helps with one of JKR's greatest strengths - making the allegiance of various characters ambiguous. Once you know who can do it, and how strong or weak they are at it, you can get into all kinds of debate along the lines of "Would he have known what she was thinking, and if so, was that why he did X?" etc. Snape is the most obvious character to whom this applies, but actually there are very few characters for whom you can't have big arguments about what they knew when, and how it affected their behaviour.

Rowling has been incredibly clever at keeping certain key characters ambiguous, with a major device for doing this being the use of unreliable witnesses: the three kids, and especially Harry, who are more than capable of misinterpreting other's behaviour. This means that still at the end of book 6 we don't really know who we can and can't trust, or what some characters really want. She apparently had the whole thing plotted out from the beginning, and has huge piles of note-books full of incidental details about all her characters, places, magic spells, etc, and this really shows in the way the books are coming together.

*ahem* Anyway, I said I wasn't going to write about this today, and look at me, being naughty and getting drawn in!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-17 11:39 am (UTC)
You know this is the first time anyone has suggested to me that there may be more to the Potter series than at first meets the eye. You've got me interested. All this playing around with unreliable witnesses and mindreading sounds fascinating.
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[User Picture]From: kutsuwamushi
2005-07-17 04:12 am (UTC)
If the only characters in the books were the children, I'd feel the exact same way: "eh." I'm drawn to (some of) the adult characters.

But definitely, there are books that have captured my imagination far more effectively than Harry Potter. It's fun reading, and I can understand why it's so popular, but it's never going to be one of my favorite series.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-17 11:41 am (UTC)
The one that really grabbed me was Pullman's His Dark Materials. I fell in love with Lyra and Will.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2005-07-17 04:18 am (UTC)
What I'm enjoying is watching the children grow up - Rowling is doing a damn good job of showing this maturing process. I'm enjoying watching the way they talk and act change as they get older. I actually laughed out loud during my reading of this latest book because some of the actions of the characters were just so perfect, given how old they are supposed to be. This progression is most clearly seen with Harry. He says some things in this book to various people that he never would have said two years ago.
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[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2005-07-17 04:42 am (UTC)
Ooh, definitely. Just as in real life, you don't notice it as it happens, because it's so gradual, but when you look back, you realise how much they've changed. So far, the films have managed this too, and I hope they continue to do so.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-17 11:44 am (UTC)
Most characters in children's fiction stay the same age forever. To follow a set of characters through their teens is an interesting- rather ambitious- thing to do.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-07-17 04:43 am (UTC)
Aw, Tony.

You're no fun!

Kate finished up Harry around six last night and was walking around smiling and sniffling--presumably someone very lovable just got bumped off. I'm not there yet but I have hopes that I will be sniffling, too. (I hope it's not Hagrid. He's my favorite giant!)

garden

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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2005-07-17 07:04 am (UTC)
I have a suspicion I know who's going to be bumped off, but I'm not glued to the book. Got work to do, alas, and so I'm only able to read it while soaking an infected toe in water and Epsom salts.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2005-07-17 08:15 pm (UTC)
Although not glued to the book, I did finish it, and I was right about who was going to be bumped off. Didn't make it any easier to take. I can't believe I'm grieving a bit over a fictional character... but s/he had become part of my mental landscape.
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[User Picture]From: qos
2005-07-17 08:47 am (UTC)
jackiejj -- I have to jump in and say that your starry castle is one of the most exquisite icons I've seen.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-07-17 12:30 pm (UTC)
Because I got it from a free icon site, I would be most happy to share it with you! Just right-click it, and it's yours.

I've been reading Harry Potter and thought it was appropriate.
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[User Picture]From: qos
2005-07-17 01:10 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! Thanks!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-17 11:45 am (UTC)
I love the picture of Kate and Harry. It was an certain old masterish quality.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-07-17 12:30 pm (UTC)
I liked the quality of light on the walls, yes, and the lace curtains.

That's how I always think of Kate--reading.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-17 12:37 pm (UTC)
The old masters favoured pictures of people (usually girls) reading.

I guess it was a good way to get your model to stay still.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-07-17 12:44 pm (UTC)
She never knew I dropped by.
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2005-07-17 05:39 am (UTC)
I read the first two books, largely because I was new father when the first one came out and certain religious groups in the States were condeming them as promoting Satanism and witchcraft to children. Nothing peaks my interest in something like someone doing their damndest to keep me from it. I thought they were decent enough tales, and certainly appreciate the value of anything that encourages reading in kids (and adults, for that matter). Having said all that, I can't figure out the near-worship some give to this series.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-17 11:47 am (UTC)
I'm beginning to think I need to read them- or maybe not the whole series, but one or two volumes- simply in order to find out what everyone else is going on about.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2005-07-17 12:44 pm (UTC)
If you try the first book, I think you will like it.

And if you do--just think: an entire series to read!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-17 11:48 am (UTC)
Or William Golding...

I'm committed to reading his trilogy, To The Ends of the Earth and I think it tops 700.
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[User Picture]From: qos
2005-07-17 08:45 am (UTC)
When I saw the first movie, I had the interesting sensation of imagining how much I would have loved them had I been 12 or 13 when they first came out, but I found them simply mildly entertaining.

I started reading the books to my daughter because they were one of the very few books to which she responded strongly. I didn't really start getting into them until the fourth book, when the degree of intensity, complexity, and danger went up significantly.

But while I'm very interested in what's going to happen, I haven't fallen in love with these characters like I have with others.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2005-07-17 11:55 am (UTC)
I enjoyed the movies, but I didn't find them particularly involving. It was a case of, well, that was an entertaining three hours, now lets go do something else. There's nothing about any of the characters that grabs me.

There are worlds of the imagination I yearn for- when I was a kid there were Alice's Wonderland and Mowgli's jungle. More recently Philip Pullman's alternative universe pulled me in, but Hogwarts just doesn't have that effect.
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