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Old January 26th, 2014, 10:04 pm
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Join Date: 25th October 2007
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Re: A series completed: Analysis of all eight movies in one

How have I never posted in this thread before? Well, I think it's only fitting that this be the last thread I post in in Muggle Studies, and maybe altogether.

I hope I don't repeat too much of what I said in my individual "reviews" (quote marks because they're really more ramblings).

The Movies

Which movie out of all eight of them is your favourite? Why?

I feel like I'm supposed to say Prisoner of Azkaban - most people do, it's supposedly the best film of the series, and I'm more a film person than anything - but it's Deathly Hallows (as one film, because it is one huge film). I can't separate it from its place as the finale to this series that meant so much to me over nearly a decade, but I do really see it as the most exciting, moving film of the lot. It's the series' best director at his most confident. It's the series' stars doing their best work. It's certainly not perfect, but it's a very rewarding conclusion.

If you could name one moment which you consider your favourite for all movies, which one is it?

I could name so many. There used to be a "favorite moments" thread - I don't know if it still exists - and I think I chose Voldemort's rebirth in Goblet of Fire (not the whole graveyard sequence, just the horrifying turning point with his rise out of the cauldron) as my number one. I'll pick something else this time and go with the possession in Order of the Phoenix, which gets to the heart of what this series is all about beautifully: love and compassion being able to triumph over hate and evil (and which doesn't play as mawkish as that). This is also when it kicks in that this is a series with a history - we've been with these characters long enough that this scene can and does punch us in the gut, and our time with them is closer to the end than the beginning.

Directing

Which director did the best job of portraying the Wizarding World?

Maybe this is too easy an answer, because he directed the later, richer movies, but, as I mentioned a couple paragraphs above, it's David Yates. None of the directors did everything right, but I'd say Yates was the best director of actors that the series had, and his portrayal of this world had the most depth and verisimilitude to it. Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, and Mike Newell were each strong in their own ways, but it's Yates.

Would you have preferred one director for all eight movies?

Honestly, I'm not sure. On the one hand, I love the diversity that we saw, and for the most part, these are terrific movies. On the other, I wonder if some of the inconsistencies that bother me wouldn't have been there if there'd been one director guiding the whole enterprise. Every book is different from the others in certain ways, so for that reason having different directors tackle different installments made perfect sense - but the opposite could have made perfect sense as well. I'll answer, "No, I don't think so," because I don't regret not having a single director for all seven/eight.

Storytelling

Which story arc has been fleshed out the best during the movies? Examples: Coming of Age story of the Trio, Harry vs Voldemort, The Marauder vs Snape, Snape as Dumbledore's inside man, etc.

Every arc, or nearly every one, was hurt at some point by something being left out or something being included but not explored enough. That said, I'm not sure whether to answer "the coming of age story of the trio" or "Harry vs. Voldemort." Actually, I think I have to go with the former, because that's what this whole thing is. I don't think I can rave about these films (which, for the most part, I do) and not choose that. I go back to these films for that journey. And of course, actually seeing Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson grow up over that decade gave this aspect more (or at least a different) resonance than it had on the page.

This is the section where I should say that, although I have my criticisims and nitpicks, I have a lot of admiration for what Steve Kloves (and Michael Goldenberg) did. These aren't easy books to adapt (and adaptation is not easy), but in general, Kloves (and Goldenberg) did a fine job of preserving what counted and keeping the spirit of it.

Acting

Which character has had the best portrayal (script wise and acting wise)?

This is another hard one, particularly the "script wise" part. I think I'll go with Hermione there (even though not every aspect of the literary Hermione is represented in the films). Kloves' love of Hermione was clear, even if it did occasionally mean she delivered information that, say, Ron should have. Overall, though, my favorite character in the films (my favorite in the books is Dumbledore) is Snape, and that's largely thanks to Alan Rickman. What Rickman can do with a syllable most actors only wish they could with a speech, but it's not simply about the pauses and odd points of emphasis; his work is subtle, amusing, and always fascinating.

Which actor or actress in their role has been a revelation to you?

It has to be one of the younger actors - "one of the kids," I was going to say, even though I'm in the same age range - because it's not like I was surprised at how good Alan Rickman was, or how good Helena Bonham Carter was, or how good Ralph Fiennes was, etc. I thought about Evanna Lynch, because Evanna simply is Luna Lovegood. I thought about Emma, because she's the one who stood out immediately as the most natural and charming of the trio. I'm going with Dan Radcliffe, though, because although he's really good in Sorcerer's Stone (not as good in Chamber of Secrets), he improved exponentially in Prisoner of Azkaban, and again in Goblet of Fire, and again in Order of the Phoenix. to the point where I really believed in him and in his future as an actor.

(By the way, don't get me wrong, Rupert's great too.)

Music

How important has music been to you while watching the movies?

I wish there were versions of these films available without the scores, because that would be the best answer to this question. Music's obviously incredibly important (not just for me) - to setting and maintaining tone, atmosphere, emotional impact - and it definitely was to the success of this series. A film's score needs to complement the action onscreen, but not overpower it, and that's what I felt happened with every HP score (not necessarily every second in every one, but still). I want to be able to listen to film score separately, but think about the film or certain scenes/moments from it when I do, and when I listen to my Harry Potter playlist on Spotify, I see the particular scenes in my mind's eye with each and every track. It's the reverse as well: When I see Buckbeak's flight in my mind's eye, I hear "Buckbeak's Flight," and so on.

Who is your favourite music composer?

It's John Williams. It has to be - not just because he defined this wizarding world musically (not to undervalue that, but first is not the same as best), but also because when I think Harry Potter, it's always his music I hear first, which I love.

Which soundtrack is your favourite?

That would be John Williams' marvelous Prisoner of Azkaban score, the most eclectic of the lot. It's as if Williams heard the criticisms of sameness in the Chamber of Secrets score (and the Sorcerer's Stone score, to a lesser extent, I guess) and said, "Challenge accepted. Time to do something different." (I'm sure he was inspired by the imagery, too.)

What is your favourite music track?

Besides "Hedwig's Theme," right? I mean, who doesn't immediately recognize that as the Harry Potter theme? Who among us doesn't stop what they're doing when they hear the slighest bit of it? As he did with Star Wars, Superman, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park, Williams created a theme as iconic as anything else in those films. It's perfect.

My favorite track that is not "Hedwig's Theme" would be..."A Window to the Past" from Prisoner of Azkaban, so poignant and such a beautiful melody. Close behind it is actually "Dumbledore's Farewell," which is more devastating each time I hear it, and easily the best thing Nicholas Hooper contributed.

Cinematography, Set Design, Costume Design, etc.

Which movie has the best cinematography?

Cinematography's not something I can really talk about intelligently, but I'll answer this way: When I first read this question, I saw images from Deathly Hallows, and I don't think that's because it's the last one. That's the most visually striking of the films to me, which is one of the reasons - an important one - it's my favorite. Eduardo Serra did some impressive work there.

Best set design (props etc)?

Which movie has the best set design? I probably can't answer "all of them," and I wouldn''t. Needless to say, but here I am saying it, Stuart Craig is a genius, and the production design in these movies remains staggering - insanely detailed, awe-inspiring, and right to the point where we all want to go to a theme park to simulate the experience of being in that world! For the sake of actually answering, I'll say Order of the Phoenix, for adding the Ministry of Magic sets (including entirely digital ones that actually aren't distracting) and the whole Umbridge element.

Best special effects?

It's clearly Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (I'm specifying which part this time because there were two post-productions), but part of me wants to answer Prisoner of Azkaban, because who doesn't love Buckbeak, and who isn't terrified by those Dementors? (I prefer those to the Order of the Phoenix Dementors.)

Best costumes?

I don't have strong feelings about this, but I'll say Goblet of Fire, because of the Yule Ball.

Overall verdict
Are you happy with the Harry Potter movies as a completed series?

I think it was two years ago that I watched the entire series straight through (took about 19 hours), and it played very well as one giant movie - not perfectly, but better than I expected. There are inconsistencies and missed opportunities that I wish weren't there - some of which were the result of different directors having different takes on things, some of which were the result of not knowing where the books were going and who/what would prove more important later on, some of which were just mistakes - but overall, this is a really impressive set of films. Yes, of course, the books are the better telling of this story (not because books are always better than their film adaptations, because that's not always the case), but the achievement here is remarkable. I haven't mentioned David Heyman's name yet, but he deserves more kudos and more thanks than anyone, because he led the way in maintaining such a high level of quality for more than a decade (and he just might win an Oscar for producing Gravity). That so much of this cast and crew stuck around for the whole thing and kept raising their standards with each one is amazing. I may not be critical enough, but I have combed through the film series and pointed out my issues, and they're miniscule compared to the huge triumphs.


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Last edited by IenjoyAcidPops; January 27th, 2014 at 1:35 am.
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