Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Harry Potter in Books and Movies

As it turns out, my sister has a copy of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. I know I said I wouldn't read it, but since it was lying on the shelf, it proved too great a temptation.

I'm only halfway through it. Already I can say that it's much better than the preceding book. However, I still find it a little...ordinary...as far as juvenile literature goes. Still, it flows well enough to hold my interest so I'll probably see this book through.

One thing, though: I can't seem to read it without imagining the cast of the movies in their respective roles. Never mind Daniel Radcliffe and Harry Potter: the hero has been described to great detail and the actor was chosen to suit. I'm thinking more of the other characters who were only given a sentence or two in description.

Take for instance Severus Snape. In the first book, he hardly merits a description. All that is said of him is:

His eyes were black like Hagrid's, but they had none of Hagrid's warmth.

The second book is a bit more generous:

There, his black robes rippling in a cold breeze, stood Severus Snape. He was a thin man with sallow skin, a hooked nose, and greasy, shoulder-length black hair....

And jumping forward to the sixth book:

A sliver of a man could be seen looking out at them, a man with long black hair parted in curtains around a sallow face and black eyes.

Shades of Alan Rickman as Prof. Snape?

Oh, alright, I may be imagining these things. But as I've said, it's now kind of hard to visualize the characters apart from the actors who play them.

Which leads me to wonder what goes on through the mind of J.K. Rowling as she wrote the fifth and sixth installments. How much were the subsequent novels influenced by the movie versions of the preceding ones? How much of Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and the Phelps twins made their way into Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and the Weasley twins? I wonder.

Lucky for J.K. Rowling, this is the age of strictly protected copyrights and so the movie versions are more or less faithful to her books. I daresay the movies themselves may be a bit more streamlined than some of the later additions. So more or less, the movies and the books are in harmony, leading up to the grand finale of the seventh book and the seventh movie.

What if they weren't? How would J.K. Rowling react, lawsuit aside? This wouldn't be the first time, though, that an author found himself reacting to runaway characters.

It happened 400 years ago with Miguel Cervantes and Don Quixote. Cervantes found his works on the errant knight so popular that ersatz fan fiction actually started blooming. In the end, he was forced to write a sequel to Don Quixote, taking his hero in the opposite direction than that of one of the more popular fanfics did. He even had Don Quixote reacting to rumors of the bogus literature.

To quell all further unauthorized stories, Cervantes killed off Don Quixote.

Of course, J.K. Rowling won't really have to take it to these extremes. This is the age of strong copyrights, after all.

Here's looking to the seventh book and the end of all this waiting.