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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

I don't get the Harry Potter thing ....

Posted on 2005.10.10 at 21:00
Tags: , , , ,

Harry Potter, had he been portrayed by Elijah Wood. *wink*


OK, I've resisted reading the Harry Potter series since it came out, but the reviews and word of mouth on The Half Blood Prince were so enthusiastic I decided I had better do it. When was that? Sometime this summer? July? August? Anyway, in my spare time ("spare" - HA!) I started reading them.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Cute, but no more than many other books of far less renown. On to Chamber of Secrets. A little cuter, but, still; so what? Prizoner of Azkaban. Much better. Hermoine gets more interesting and I liked Sirius Black, sure that he was going to turn out to be a good guy. He did. Good! Then, Goblet of Fire. Far better still. I stopped pretending to work on my own fic to read it through. Things were definitely perking up! The Order of the Phoenix. Completely couldn't put it down. (A bit of a let-down in the big show-down at the Dept. of Mysteries -- kept picturing the battles in the first three Star Wars movies -- but otherwise, really a pleasure to read.)

This afternoon, I finished The Half Blood Prince. I read it furiously, keen to get to the "good part", but, except for some excitement plot-wise and a nice dirge by the Phoenix, I didn't seem to get to any notably "good" part. "What is wrong with me?" I thought. Perhaps, because of all the huge build-up, I was expecting too much. I was definitely disappointed.

Anyway. I had remembered reading the beginnings of excited discussions in the LJ's of several of you, which you posted back when HBP came out. I stopped reading them, then, so as not to read spoilers. But this afternoon I went back and read some of them, hoping to hear some feedback that I could identify with.

Having read your entries and comments, I confess I feel very oddly, as if I come from another planet of readers. It's not just that I wasn't that crazy about the books, but that I failed to see things in the stories the way the rest of you did, failed to be fond of the characters the rest of you most liked, and failed to be disgruntled with the ones you were disgruntled with. I even most liked the book in the series the rest of you liked the least. (Whaaaa?)

And as for the world of HP fanfic, some of the pairings I have heard lauded were ones I found absolutely unimaginable and undesirable, now that I have read the books. Is it because I haven't seen the films? I know that is bound to make a difference. Never from reading the book, for instance, would I have imagined I would be reading and writing Frodo fic. That all came about because of my besottedness with film Frodo. I applied all that starry-eyed love for film-Frodo to book Frodo after the fact. Perhaps that has happened in the HP world, too. I hope to find out.

Well, I plan to sit through the films, now, in the next weeks. Perhaps that will help me see what you all are so excited about, especially you who are into the fanfic side of HP fandom.

~ Mechtild


Map-Maker, Lighthouse-Keeper
marinshellstone at 2005-10-11 03:38 (UTC) (Link)
I've tried so many times explaining to my friends who don't read Harry, or did and didn't quite fall in love with it the way I did, why I feel the way I do. It's impossible. Either it speaks to you or it doesn't, you know? I personally felt that "the good part" in HBP was Dumbledore and Harry going to the cave, and the ensuing battle at Hogwarts afterwards. Also, Dumbledore's death and funeral reduced me to the kind of tears I usually reserve for Sam leaving Frodo's body in the high pass, or struggling up the side of Mount Doom.

The films are along the same lines as the books. I and II have beautiful colors and special effects, and the kids are just growing into their acting chops. Things really start to pick up steam in III, and what's projected for IV looks amazing. I think you'll enjoy them - John Williams' music is a highlight for me!
mechtild at 2005-10-11 04:22 (UTC) (Link)
Hi, Hadara! The Cave scene I thought pilfered from too many sources for me to take it seriously, but the confrontation on the top of the tower at Hogwarts was very good.

I liked Moaning Myrtle as always, as well as the portrait characters, especially the ones in Dumbledore's office which are always eavesdropping and throwing in their two cents. I was sorry there was so little of Remus Lupin, since he was the "good guy" character I liked best from all the books.

I loved the funeral and sniffled over the Phoenix's dirge and the place where Hagrid carries in the body wrapped in spangled velvet. I also liked all the scenes with Fleur, whom I thought very funny and was glad to see come out "all right", since I liked Bill Weasley.

I thought I would like Harry hooking up with Ginny, since I thought Rowling was preparing her for girlfriend-hood from when Ginny was first introduced as the blushing, tongue-tied little girl with a crush on Harry, volumes before. But Ginny became such a different girl as the books went on, I no longer cared if she became Harry's girlfriend or not. And he began to seem like a boy not suited for romantic love, so involved was he in his personal vendetta.

The scene for which I had the greatest hopes while reading was the one in which Harry inadvertently nearly killed Draco, but it didn't go much of anywhere in terms of character development. I was hoping it would make more of an impact on Harry, who seems a little underdeveloped so far, emotionally and morally, considering all he has been through. He's "got a good heart," I guess I could say, but it doesn't always translate into good actions. Maybe that will happen in Book 7.

John Williams did the score? I think he's very good. I look forward to hearing his work.
ellinestel at 2005-10-11 09:52 (UTC) (Link)

I even most liked the book in the series the rest of you liked the least.

Me too. :) My favourites are books four, five and six, while many love book three. I cannot explain what's so special in HP that got me hooked... I also cannot explain why my mother (who doesn't ever read fantasy or science fiction), fell in love with he books.

As to movies... I didn't like them as much as the books, and I didn't feel the HP atmosphere that I love. :(
mechtild at 2005-10-11 12:54 (UTC) (Link)
In the LJ's I was reading Book Three seemed to be best admired (although they were specifically commenting on Six, of course), and Book Five the most villified. That remains my favourite one, by far the most meaty and complex in its development of characters. I even thought its featured bad guy was the most interestingly done (the awful, despicable Delores Umbridge, who tore a page from the book of Nurse Ratched and all the other institutional monsters of "this is for your own good"-ishness, right down to the evil prison matrons of old women's prison movies).

I hear from book fans that the first two films are "OK," but that the third, with a different director and better source book, "is really good." My main interest is to see how the characters are enfleshed.
maewyn_2 at 2005-10-11 14:07 (UTC) (Link)
I'm afraid I can't comment, because I've just started Order of the Phoenix and I'm trying not to look at spoilers!

If I read something about Harry Potter (including your entry above), and I see a name I don't recognise, I skip over it until I can see something that's more familiar and continue from there!

So far, my opinion is that the first three books were definitely aimed at children. The fourth became more "adult", particularly towards the end. The fifth has hit the ground running! I've only read the first 70 pages, and my 30-minute lunch break doesn't give me much time to read as much as I would like!
mechtild at 2005-10-11 14:42 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, Maewyn. Your remarks reminded me I should have posted a "SPOILERS" warning. I just did it. ((((hug))))

Off to work!
pearlette at 2005-10-11 14:09 (UTC) (Link)

On Harry

I enjoy Harry Potter but am critical of the hype and am not tempted by the fandom – too large and too crazy.

I read the first three books in the autumn of 1999 – just before LOTR movie news hit me like an express train. I enjoyed them immensely, especially Chamber of Secrets and Azkaban. At the time I thought: ‘these would make great films!’

I read Goblet of Fire in the summer of 2000 – still enjoyable but I began to feel that Jo Rowling was falling prey to the temptation to pad out her story just for the sake of it. Cedric’s death, and the showdown with Voldemort and gang in the cemetery, were genuinely moving and scary though.

Order of the Phoenix – Found it tedious. Good moments and characters were simply buried in a mass of over-plotting. A week later, I couldn’t remember a thing except that Sirius died and that Neville’s parents had been tortured by the Death Eaters. Oh, and that Sirius’s mother was quite amusing.

Half Blood Prince – rather like a well-written piece of fanfic. :D Much better than Order of the Phoenix, and I’ll hand it to JKR, she can do shocking plot twists with panache. Snape is not ev0l, and Draco is adorable.

The fandom ‘shipper rows made my jaw drop. The reassuring thing is that they made the Harem look quite normal. :D On reflection I think that Harry/Hermione are a better pairing than Ron/Hermione, despite the fact that JKR has been dropping huge great smoking hints about Ron/Hermione since book two. Ginny is very unconvincing, having morphed from the nicely drawn shy little thing in Chamber of Secrets into a glossy, and rather fickle, Mary Sue with a ‘hard blazing look’ (very Mills & Boon.) I loved Fleur’s magnificent putdown of Mrs Weasley at Bill’s bedside.

For me Harry Potter is a classic British boarding school yarn with a lot of magic and a smaller dash of hormonal angst. It’s not great literature but it’s fun. It’s certainly pacey and interesting enough to hold my attention as an adult reader. I don’t see much moral profundity here though ...

And I have mixed feelings about Jo Rowling as a writer. Her writing style seems to have flattened as the series has progressed and she does have this habit of dropping characters. At least she hasn’t killed Remus off but then she doesn’t DO anything with him either. It’s frustrating. But then I think she tends to over-plot and neglect characterisation. She has a lot of loose ends to tie up in the final book and I’m not convinced that she’ll do it to everybody’s satisfaction.

The best book in the series remains ‘Azkaban’, which is exciting, moving and genuinely magical with lots of suspense. Nothing else in the series to date has matched it.

The first two films were charming and had some lovely moments but were a tad on the long side. The third film was much the best - I much preferred Cuaron’s sparkling direction and lovely visuals. Goblet of Fire – bring it on, Mike Newell. If ever there was a case for revisionism, this is it. ;)

Verdict: Harry is cute but Frodo is cuter.
mechtild at 2005-10-11 14:43 (UTC) (Link)

Re: On Harry

Ah, Pearl, I'd love to respond to that but I must got this very minute to work, and then an evening at choir to follow. Boo hoo hoo!
frazzylou at 2005-10-14 01:30 (UTC) (Link)
Ooh, I don't know whether it's a good idea to get me started on this or not, but here I go.

Firstly, Mech, I am glad that you liked the series so far. ^_^

My excuse for being so drawn to the books is that I was only 10, and searching for another world to escape into; I found it in Harry Potter. Ever since then the characters have seemed very real to me. I have a very intimate relationship with many of them. ^_^;;;

From an objective point of view the Harry Potter books are not amazing in terms of quality of writing, but JK Rowling knows how to capture the imagination of children (and adults!), and that can only be a good thing.

I was disappointed with HBP aswell. Whilst I thought the quality of the writing was better than in the 5th book, I felt it was lacking something plot wise, and I still can't quite put my finger on it. But I'm sure you've gone back and read all of the stuff I posted previously about HBP. ^_^

I know I conform to the 'The 3rd book is my favourite' stereotype, but that is mainly due to Remus and Sirius. They remain my favourite characters from when I was only 13! But my order of preference is 3, 5, 6, 4, 1, 2, which is quite different from a lot of people. And I know I said that book 5 wasn't as well written as the others, but the story itself more than made up for that. So I wouldn't feel too bad about liking the 5th book most! (I'm assuming that is the book you mean).

I am quite involved in the HP fandom, or rather I was. Until the movies came out fandom was great, but now a lot of people just go around spouting stuff like 'Tom Felton is hott!!!!11!' etc. (Tom Felton plays Draco Malfoy, just incase you were wondering). Not that I mind people who like the movies discussing something they like, but people who have nothing better to do than talk about how they want to jump certain actors bug me, and HP fandom is full to capacity at the moment with that sort of poster. That sort of person really spoiled it for me and so I'm not an active poster on any boards or anything like that. I just watch the goings on of people and insert my opinion when it is appropriate.

As for pairings or 'ships' the only one I ascribe to in the books is Hermione and Ron. I mentioned ages ago that I like the Remus/Sirius pairing, but that is mostly because I adored the fact that they still care so much for each other, even after so much has happened, at the end of book 3. I don't believe that they should be in a romantic relationship, but I love the notion that some men might actually care for each other beyond the sexual. But that is just my personal preference. ^_^;;

The majority of Harry Potter fanfiction is very badly written and has no plot structure what so ever. Hence why I've got some plans to take the mickey of Harry Potter fanfiction entitled: 'Harry Potter and the Fanfiction of Doom' heh. ^_^;; There are certain websites that screen stories for quality, and I would suggest to steer clear of fanfiction.net unless you want to sift through a lot of muck to find the gems. Unfortunately the best erotica in the HP-verse is mainly Remus/Sirius related, unless you don't mind reading that!
All of the above is, of course, only relevant if you're planning on reading any HP fanfiction.

Hmm, I just feel that you should be prepared for HP fandom. It's a lot more busy, and a lot less intelligent than Tolkien fandom.

I just wanted to comment on this before I crash from exhaustion:
have thought she has written them consciously imagining them as films

I've thought that aswell. When I read these books I 'see' a movie going on in my head. If that makes any sense at all. The same thing happens with my idea for a novel. All of the scenes exist as images in my head, so much so that I think it would make a better movie, but a movie could never have the same level of detail about the characters, so it'll stay as a book.

It seems that Harry Potter fever is quite infectious though. I am pleased! -_^
mechtild at 2005-10-14 16:27 (UTC) (Link)

Thanks for the response. I already told you what I thought of the "buzz" I had heard about how HP fandom is assigning the fic relationships, and why I thought some of them seemed implausible. For instance, Snape/absolutely anyone. Book Snape seems to be far beyond finding sexuality entertaining, though he might submit someone to sexual behaviour by force, in order to shame and/or hurt them. But apart from his apparent lack of interest in things sexual or sensual in the books, there's his appearance. He is portrayed as quite repellent in the books. His hair is so oily it leaves stains on pages over which it has trailed. What can I say but, "Ewwww." And people complained about film-Aragorn's hair!

Well, as I had said to you in your LJ, the films probably would go a long way in explaining why the pairings have developed the way they have. So far I have watched Sorcerer's Stone (somewhat charming but surprisingly dull in what should have been exciting places), and most of Chamber of Secrets (much better, with some lovely character acting by the adults, good work by Ron and Harry, and lots of great little bits spread throughout). I love the art design, on the whole.

Well, Snape is the #1 example of what I meant about the film version upping the fanfic possibilities for certain characters. As I suspected, in the hands of the wonderful and highly charismatic Alan Rickman, film Snape definitely has his own dark, dastardly, smooth-tongued appeal. Also, and very, very importantly, he has washed his hair. The black wig he wears may need a trim, but it depicts hair that is thick and shiny and washed. So. That explains all the pairings featuring Snape.

As I said in my post in your LJ, Frankie, just reading the books only one "pairing" really leapt out at me, and that was young James Potter and Sirius, as portrayed in the Pensieve scenes in TOOTP. You suggested Remus/Lupin as the "pair du jour" around the net. In the books, I couldn't see that as other than a brotherly relationship. (LOVED the character of Lupin, by the way; he's among my favourites of the "good guys"). But in those flashback scenes from Book Four, I really thought James and Sirius had a spark that could be made use of by a determined slasher. As I read, I kept being reminded of Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead Revisited. Note, I don't think Rowling meant to sexualize the relationship at all. But, having read so much fanfic, I have come to look at most fictional relationships with a more -- jaded -- eye, LOL.

In this second film, Remus Lupin and Sirius Black do not yet appear, so I don't know how the film portrayals might have encouraged fans to dwell on this pairing. I know Gary Oldman's work in other films and am expecting him to be good, though I don't think he is very good looking, which Sirius is described as being. David Thewlis I have seen in two roles, both excellent, and both very different. I am looking forward to seeing him as Lupin, as well. As for young James Potter, I hope they don't use the actor shown in the mirror in Sorcerer's Stone. That actor seemed far too old to play a teenager, for starters, but also seemed to exhibit none of the flashy appeal that the arrogant, talented James Potter was supposed to have emanated. In the mirror, he just looked like, "a nice man with dark hair and glasses."

Well, this has been fun but I must get to work. Bye for now,

~ Mechtild
(Anonymous) at 2005-10-14 07:55 (UTC) (Link)
Great new layout Mechtild!

I cannot comment on HP because I have neither read the books nor seen the films. I have been spoiled for life by Tolkien. I can’t imagine reading another fantasy – but who knows, never say never.

Have a great week-end,

mechtild at 2005-10-14 13:08 (UTC) (Link)
Well, HP is in no way comparable in depth, imagination or sheer quality with JRRT, Estë. Not to worry. But I was tired of hearing everyone talk about them and not know to what they were referring. Having finished the six books, I started to watch the films yesterday. I am half way through the second one. They do help explain the degree to which they have become huge. Not that they weren't already huge as books, but the films help explain the degree and flavour of the rise of its more heated fandom. That is to say, most of the actors chosen have a lot of screen appeal, and we know what that does to a fandom *grin* (I plan to speak a little about that when I answer Frazzylou's post.)

*smooches* to you, Estë

~ Mechtild
(Anonymous) at 2005-10-14 19:30 (UTC) (Link)
Wow! A link to Frodo Art Travesties and Threshold would be great. I dare not link direct to them at KD because I share a PC. RL hubby would not understand me having a link to Frodo wearing only a towel and a pensive fire-side glow, plus a hawt fic explaning in rich detail about how he got to that state ;-D

Have you finished with the updating of the earlier chapters of ‘Threshold?’


mechtild at 2005-10-14 20:00 (UTC) (Link)
Wow! A link to Frodo Art Travesties and Threshold would be great.

Does it not show in the left-hand column when you open at the main journal entry page, down under "links"? It does on mine, now, with the new lay-out. Hmmm. I can see how you wouldn't want your husband peering over your shoulder when you have "Before the Fire" Frodo" opened up on the screen. Even when I was working on the "R" one, everytime I heard footsteps by the office door here at home I minimized it in a panic. It really is very steamy stuff, in my own perception, anyway. I could just attack that picture.

Have you finished with the updating of the earlier chapters of ‘Threshold?’

Yes, Estë, I finally have. Chs. 1 - 7 have been re-posted at the Harem Archives and OSA (the other site it's at). Now I am trying to get back to writing the new chapter, but I seem to be overcome with an onslaught of dread and spend the few days off I get doing other things, avoiding it. I wrote of it to Aisling, actually, while giving her a heads-up that Aratlithiel had written a GLOWING rec of her lovely F/S fic, Hourglass (the rec was in Aratlithiel's LJ). Aisling was extremely warm and encouraging, telling me how she has felt this way, too. Well, now I must just gird my loins and do it! *determined face*
(Anonymous) at 2005-10-15 11:48 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for the information Mechtild.

Oh yes silly me *blush* the links are there in the in the left hand column.

You wrote:

I can see how you wouldn't want your husband peering over your shoulder…[]…every time I heard footsteps by the office door here at home I minimized it in a panic.

The trick is to have something else to maximize onto the screen because anyone who minimizes must be hiding something. *big guilty grin*

eyborg at 2005-11-06 20:14 (UTC) (Link)
Hi there! Glad you finally read the HP books and enjoyed them. :)

I myself didn't start reading HP until Nov. 2001, when Goblet of Fire came out in Icelandic (I read the first 4 books in Icelandic, and didn't read them in English until later. I'm actually collecting the series in both languages).

I loved the first three books instantly, loved also book 4 (although it was different - darker), but book 5 and 6 I had to read at least twice to both get used to them and understand them fully, because they were so... what can I say... disturbing to me. But now I guess I can say that book 5 is my favourite, because it's so very complex - and I'm actually one of the few people who like the angry, CAPSLOCK Harry (although he's turning into a bit of a Luke Skywalker-type lately. But it's okay, I'm a Luke fan, hehe). BTW I hated that Sirius had to die... :(

As for book 6, I really liked it, and I just can't wait now for book 7 to come out, to find out how everything ends. The only thing I wasn't really too happy about in book 6 was the romances... Although I could laugh at Ron's fling with Lavender & Hermione's jealousy over it. That was just funny...
But the Harry/Ginny thing I just didn't get. Which is kind of weird because I always liked the idea of the two of them getting together in the end (and Hermione getting together with Ron, although in the beginning I could very well have seen her with Harry too). But the way the Harry/Ginny thing was handled in HBP was very strange. I can very well believe that Harry had always liked Ginny, but the way he suddenly felt all hot for her (not to mention the monster in his chest - or was it pants? *evil grin*), plus the fact that we know almost *nothing* about their time they were supposed to be "together", was all very strange. I believe there is something fishy going on here. But more about that later. But note that Harry and Ginny are not shown to have any *serious* conversation together, until their breakup at Dumbledore's funeral. (That scene made many people think of the Spiderman movies).

I still have some hopes for Harry and Ginny to fall in "real love" in book 7. Although I have this eerie feeling that Rowling will turn Ginny into Arwen!Ginny, which sits patiently at home in the Rivendell!Burrow, while Aragorn!Harry goes out to fight the Dark Lord...
(I do prefer Aragorn!Harry to Frodo!Harry, if you know what I mean...)

Oh God, now I have this mental image in my head of Fred and George bringing Harry a banner with the Gryffindor lion on it, which Ginny has sewn... *giggle*
mechtild at 2005-11-06 21:17 (UTC) (Link)
Hi, Eyborg. Am I impressed that you have read the HP's in two languages. I am very lame trying to go anywhere past my native tongue.

What did you think was Luke Walker-ish about Harry? That he was going to have to confront his "Dark Side" - in himself and in the person of his nemesis (not Snape, but the Tom Dark Lord).

I thought Ron's fling with Lavendar was a scream, too. And I loved any scene in which the women were looking on in disgust at Fleur, whom I really liked, the big eclair.

Harry and Ginny was, indeed, handled very strangely. I will speak to that here, although we did say some more about our unhappiness with the ch. 6 romance on my other linked entry (the about having seen film #3). Yes, Rowling had prepared readers for a Ginny/Harry romance, according to convention. I was all ready to see it happen, within the context of a PG-13 book with young readers, of course.

I still have some hopes for Harry and Ginny to fall in "real love" in book 7. Although I have this eerie feeling that Rowling will turn Ginny into Arwen!Ginny, which sits patiently at home in the Rivendell!Burrow, while Aragorn!Harry goes out to fight the Dark Lord...
(I do prefer Aragorn!Harry to Frodo!Harry, if you know what I mean...)

But for myself, I would be pleased -- if Rowling is going to keep on with the romance -- if she would indeed let a "Arwen Ginny" return for book 7 if the alternative is "Xenarwen Ginny.". Shy, warm, good-natured, deeply-feeling Ginny was someone I liked from the beginning. I thought a good if stereotypical match for brusk, gruff, has-difficulty-with-his-emotions, action-hero Harry. But when Rowling made Ginny into "Kung Fu, necking-in-the-hallways Ginny", I just thought, "Hunh? Where'd she come from?"

I think Rowling simply failed to create a viable romance for the two in book 6, in spite of having prepared us for it earlier on. She did a much better job making the Harry/Cho courtship plausible. Harry is a character difficult to mate, however. As with all her hero-boys, Rowling seems to have made it a point to show that, even as teenagers, "men are from Mars and girls are from Venus." That is, her males are singularly clueless about women and their ways. Harry is the most clueless of all. She seems to be using to a) show he is a Real Guy, and b) to offer a more light-hearted look at a character who has become increasingly driven and dour.

But me, I like my heroes to have plausible love lives, even as teenagers. I would like to see the author do better by Harry and Ginny, if she intends to keep them together. If we were going to use Tolkien as a mine for ideas, I would prefer to see her make a Ginny who is neither a stay-at-home banner maker, nor a full-fledged action heroine. I think a Luthien would do nicely. A young woman whose shining virtue is her devotion, but, because she herself is a fine, brave, clever person, her devotion means accompanying her true love into danger, joining her fate with his even to the utmost risk, bringing him aid unlooked for.

That's my suggestion. Not that JKR will be reading this, LOL!
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