TheCrockery

A Catholic perspective on the world and all the good things therein, especially books and food. Literature cum chocolate is the order of the day at The Crockery.

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Location: A Collegetown, Undisclosed Location, United States

No longer a graduate student, Teresa is now a professional know-it-all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Goblet of Fire

I've just returned from viewing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and if you don't want spoinlers, you should quit reading this post until after you've seen the movie.

As those who are fans of the books know, this fourth book was in many ways pivotal for the series, as it contains a major plot development. The fourth book was also a "thick" book, full of different threads that tied together in unpredictable ways at the book's climax.

Sadly, the movie does not pan out in the same way. Some of the subplots are cut, some important information is not revealed, and some characters are never introduced at all. For example, there's no hint that Fred and George Weasley are planning to open a joke shop and need money to do it, because there's no scene where Ludo Bagman pays them with leprachaun gold. (There is, in fact, no Ludo Bagman.) Harry does not give the Weasley brothers his Tri-Wizard winnings. While it's possible that some mention of this will be made later, it really does seem difficult to imagine how the sixth movie can follow the plot of the book, given that Weasley's Wizard Wheezes won't have been set up for us the way it should be.

Some of the other omissions were disturbing for other reasons. Rita Skeeter plays a small role in the movie (though she's not an Animagus, and Hermione doesn't blackmail her), but she writes no article revealing Hagrid's mixed parentage. Nor is there any mention of, or appearance of, house elves, who play important roles in the next two books. Thus, a thread concerning "racial" disharmony in the Wizarding world is dropped entirely. The tensions between the different sentient races -centaurs, elves, goblins, giants, and humans- become more important in the next two books, as Rowling continues to point out that the magical world Harry lives in is also deeply flawed.

I would argue that the racial/social injustices of the wizarding world are precisely what make the Potter books useful as teaching aides. In our world, evil does not wear a snake face or a Dark mark, but we do see discrimination against people based on their parentage or heritage. Sometimes, I suspect, it is easier to talk about such issues through the medium of literature or film. That's why I used the film version of Chamber of Secrets in one of my composition classes, as a "test case" for writing papers concerned with the media and narratives of race and gender. I don't think it would be possible to use the movie version of Goblet of Fire in this way, though. It simply lacks the complexity of the earlier films. I understand that this may be because the novel was too long to be easily translated onto the screen, but it's still a bit of a disappointment. I'm not really sure that I want to see what happens with Order of the Phoenix.

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