Harry Potter and the Model Weasley Family

The Weasley Family at breakfast

I’m really late to the party, the first book in the series having been published in 1997 when I was still in high school, but I’ve been borrowing the audiobooks of the Harry Potter series from the New York Public Library and I’m really enjoying them. I think I would have loved them as a kid but I was going through a phase where I was really into church dogma and the Harry Potter series was said to be evil and demonic because it supposedly encouraged children to engage in witchcraft.

Putting aside the question of whether witchcraft is real or not, I can see how the Harry Potter series was threatening to organized religion. It provides an alternative fantasy world that presents a set of moral values in a compelling way and, even when it doesn’t conflict with the church’s vision of morality, it competes for attention. I’d guess Harry Potter is probably winning that contest too, given the success of the books and movies and the ever dwindling levels of church attendance.

I wonder how much of the church’s problems these days comes from an insistence on biblical literalism? It’s been a while since I studied the Bible, either academically or religiously, but I do recall that many of the stories have parallels in other nearby cultures. For example, the story of Moses and the flood is essentially the same story as the Epic of Gilgamesh with modifications to fit the local culture. That alone should tell us that stories in the Bible were meant to be educational rather than literal history. It makes more sense to tell someone that they should be looking at a story in the Bible for moral guidance than to tell them to take it as literal word from God history and expect that story’s relevance to endure over any length of time.

And maybe that’s why Harry Potter does so well. We know it’s not word from God and we don’t face the choice of having to either swallow it whole or throw it out. We can instead appreciate it and think about it and try to apply it to our lives if it makes sense in relation to what we understand to be good and bad.

All of these thoughts congealed in my head as I started to realize how the Weasleys were being presented in the books. They may not have fancy clothes and they may not always get along but they value what’s important in life: their kids, each other, friendship, and (in Molly and Arthur’s case) their kids’ education. In addition, even though they’re struggling they essentially adopt Harry into the family, so there’s a lot of love and charity being displayed there. They share even when there’s not much to give. They’re loyal. They do things together. It’s sort of a model for the proper behavior of a family, especially when it comes in such stark contrast to how Harry is treated by his aunt and uncle. The fact that both Harry and Hermione later marry into the Weasley family reinforces the idea that they represent an ideal family.

I’m only partway through the fourth book and I wasn’t really thinking about the story too deeply until now, but there’s really more in these books than shallow entertainment. I’m not really surprised. I don’t think they would have done so well if they didn’t have something substantive to offer readers.

“Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” Review

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was definitely the worst film out of the series so far.  In fact, it’s the worst movie I’ve seen since that ridiculous thing they called a film and labeled “The X-Files: I Want To Believe”.

My first problem with this movie is that it felt entirely disjointed.  This was especially true of the first half of the movie, where the scenes bounced back and forth, and a lot of things were presented with no explanation.  Also, there were scenes that felt entirely unnecessary to further the plot.  Also, I’m not sure even the directors knew what they wanted the plot to be.  What I mean is that the trailers indicated that this would be a movie with a lot of action and a lot of important events, when in reality, nearly every action sequence in the movie was in the trailers.  The rest was dry.  It was like watching a high school love drama, complete with mushy kissing scenes, teenage angst, and jealousy.

Also, Harry Potter has always been about magic.  Where was the magic in this movie?  Again, the most astonishing thing you’ll see in the film was already shown in the trailers: Dumbledore summong fire.  The rest is weak.  Little balls of light flying from wands, and some steam coming from potions.  The previous films were special effects masterpieces that thrilled the imagination.  This, by comparison, was boring to the point of not even caring.  No magical creatures, very few magical devices.  Nothing imaginative in the least, which has been a staple of Harry Potter films.  There is nothing in this film that compares with the giant spiders, the flying car, the magic train station… none of it.  This was so sad by comparison.  I just can’t emphasize enough how… dry it was.  The whole thing lacked energy and seemed to deviate from what the story was really about.

Based on what we saw in the trailers, we were expecting some incredible event.  The trailers hinted that there would be some sort of magic spillover into the real world.  There was, for all of about 4 minutes.  And… what was the point of the whole bridge collapse anyway?  Just to have something exciting happen to keep the audience awake?  Just to use in the trailer?  I fought boredom for the duration of the film, constantly in anticipation of the action sequences that never came.

The last thing I’d like to know is where is the character development?  Harry Potter is supposed to be The Chosen One, but his abilities are, in most cases, less than extraordinary.  Shouldn’t he have learned something new by now, or at the least become powerful enough to defend himself?  Sure, he’s still in school, but… come on.  He’s The Chosen One right?  He’s supposed to defeat Voldemort, but he still has a hard time beating someone who’s supposed to be less than his equal, like Malfoy.

In the end, the film ended abruptly, leaving me entirely disappointed and in disbelief that a Harry Potter movie had been so bad, so dry, so … worthless.  This movie really sucked the life out of the series for me.  I’m not looking forward to the next Harry Potter movie anymore, and I even wonder if there would be any point to reading the books at this point.  Books are always better than the movies, but in this case, if the series gets this bad towards the end, I’m not sure I want to bother.