Accio 19th November… new Harry Potter film out

by Stephen Tall on September 24, 2010

Yeah, so I should probably grow up. Butfuckit, I’m already anticipating with relish the next dollop of celluloid HP courtesy of The Deathly Hallows Part I, the seventh film of eight, in Warner Bros adaptation of JK Rowling’s septet. (Makes sense, no?)

Here’s the latest trailer, just released to get all us wizard-wannabes salivating:


(Also available on YouTube here.)

That I put finger to keyboard — and in so doing expose my kidult obsessions — is The Guardian’s fault. Ben Child makes the claim, fashionable with a certain sort of critic, that the films are tosh… save for one: the third adaptation, Prisoner of Azkaban. And why? Because it was directed by the fab Mexican director, Alfonso Cuarón.

Now I really rate Cuarón’s other famous flick, the raunchy road movie, Y tu mamá también. And there are some neat cinematic touches to Azkaban, not least the imaginatively stylish set design. But overall it’s a clunkingly dud addition to the series, which cleaves too faithfully to the book’s narrative: there’s little that’s original or surprising, it just plods along. The best that can be said for it is that it ditches the intense saccharine-sweatiness of the first two movies, directed by Christopher Columbus, which replicated the books scene by scene (including the weak ones).

No, for all the attempts to big-up Cuarón’s version and imply it’s been downhill ever since, the reverse is true. In fact the series really hit its stride with Mike Newell’s Goblet of Fire, and in particular since David Yates became director: at last, directors who do not genuflect in front of the books, but are prepared to adapt, to invent new scenes, to take risks with the source material. The result? Immeasurably more creative, interesting, innovative films, which add a new dimension to the Potter oeuvre.

Of course if you’re new to Potter I don’t suggest you start with the later movies: there’s too much back story to be able to pick it up and enjoy it just like that. But then I wouldn’t suggest you start reading a book from two-thirds of the way in, either.

As the book has been split into two films, I’m trying to work out where the break will come… I’m guessing Part I will end either with Ron deserting Harry and Hermione — which will be a decidely downbeat ending to a film — or with Ron returning to his friends — which allows for a cheery conclusion, but is less of a ‘cliffhanger’. Then again, are cliffhangers really necessary for the film of a book which, surely, all its audience (other than the youngest) will have already read?

But then again, again, if that’s actually the case why am I genuinely excited about its release?

* You can read my review of Deathly Hallows: The Book here.

* And you can re-visit a debate on the gay subtext of the Harry Potter series (and its distinct lack of strong female characters) here.