Thursday, April 6, 2017
Letting My Harry Potter Freak Flag Fly + Thoughts on Cursed Child
Like other people born in the 80's, I literally felt like I "grew up with" Harry Potter---not just that I grew up reading the series, but that the books came out while I was around his same age, so it felt like this long-lost friend I was reading about every time a new book was released.
While I didn't get into the series right when the first book was published, I definitely was into Harry Potter hardcore by the time book four had come out. In fact, while I was anxiously awaiting around for Order of the Phoenix to be released, I was busy re-reading the whole series over again (about 20 times, in fact, and no, that number is not exaggerated).
My mom actually bought a board game based on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when most of my family had finally jumped on board with the books, but after one family game night that ended in me outright crushing everyone in the game, I don't believe any of us ever played it again.
Later, while anticipation built up for books 6 and 7 to come out, I would have long, drawn-out conversations with my coworkers about our theories of how everything was going to end, each one wilder than the last, it seemed. I remember that the topic of whether Snape was inherently good or evil was one particularly debated topic, with my boss Bruce being a staunch supporter of his goodness while the rest of us weren't so sure (it was uncanny how many of Bruce's theories ended up proving correct, in the end).
However, as the years since the final book have been published have gone by and lengthened into nearly a decade now, I have discovered that I am not just any fan---
I'm apparently a Potter purist.
While some avid HP addicts consume everything and anything ever published or contributed to by Rowling (including all 8 of the movies made), I'm a bit more of a snob about the whole thing. Even though I did see all the movies (and even enjoyed some of them from about the 5th one on, to some extent), I have never been one to really love on the films, nor have I read some of the spinoffs Rowling published afterwards, like The Tales of Beedle the Bard or Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Basically, in my view, the series stands perfect just as it is, and I worry that any further additions would only tarnish it.
(For more evidence on how much I love the original 7-book series, I will tell you that I have been listening to books 1-7 on audiobook pretty much in a never-ending loop since about 2013, when I learned that the best way to fill my hour-long commute to and from work every day was with Harry Potter. I am currently listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, even though I no longer have a long commute every day and have listened to the whole audiobook series a good fifteen times or so by now. Matt and I actually have regular, in-depth conversations about minute details mentioned in the books, and I am firmly convinced that had I been sorted as an 11-year-old, I would have been in Ravenclaw, but as an adult I would have ended up in Hufflepuff.)
So when the screenplay for Harry Potter & the Cursed Child came out, I wasn't really torn initially on my feelings about it---I'd basically decided not to even give it a shot, afraid that, once again, it would only detract from the perfection of the series rather than add to it. (That being said, had the screenplay been written as a novel with the intention of adding to the series or starting a new second series, I would have been ALLLLL over it.)
But I finally gave in, put the book on hold at the library (number 63 on the list!), and waited.
But even with low expectations, it was really hard not to roll my eyes at first at how melodramatic everything seemed, and it was hard to get used to the format of the switching characters and how quickly the action seemed to move along (without the buffer of written descriptions and explanations in between). I was disappointed that hardly any of the characters sounded like themselves and that some characters' voices were wildly unbelievable (like Severus Snape's and even Ron's, who was made out to be a complete idiot in order to provide the script with regular comic relief).
With that all said, I knew going in that the format was going to be a major stumbling block to me liking this book, but I tried to still go in with a semi-open mind.
And though I didn't LOVE either the characterizations or the overall plot of the book, there was enough in it that was funny and surprising and geeky candy for my Potter soul that I ended up not being sorry in the end that I'd finally given in.
My final word though?
I think I would have LOVED seeing this as just a fun stage production and would have wholeheartedly embraced it.
As a written screenplay with no performance attached, it was enjoyable and fun, but it wasn't anything I will associate with the series officially in my head.
Have you read The Cursed Child yet? What did you think?