Saturday, November 6, 2010

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

My daughters and I have been sharing our love of Harry Potter since I started reading the books in 1999. We've discussed them endlessly, waited at book stores for the latest book since they started having midnight sales, gone to the movies (some at midnight), we've dressed up for some of the 1st movies; they admit to their friends that their mother is a bit of a dork when it comes to Harry Potter - well, so do I, for that matter.

When I learned that the Harry Potter Exhibition was coming to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, I knew that I just had to figure out which day I was going, because, of course, I WOULD be going. I sent the girls a message on facebook and asked if anyone wanted to join me. They both said yes, no husbands were interested. So it was a girls' day.

We had perfect autumn weather. It was in the upper 60s, warm enough to go without a jacket. And it was sunny, with that deep blue sky you only see this time of year. The leaves are all shades of yellow, orange and red, with enough still on the trees to make lovely pictures of the Space Needle and enough on the ground to make it really look like fall.

I loved being able to see all the clothing, props and some of the sets up close. The fabric in Dumbledore's robes (the red one worn by Richard Harris) was rich and beautiful, just as it was in the movie. The details on the books, the Yule Ball feast tables and food, the candy from Honeydukes, Hagrid's hut, Ron and Harry's dorm room were fantastic. It was so hard not to touch - it's a good thing there are signs everywhere reminding people to keep their hands off and staff watching to make sure they do. But we did get to throw a quaffle through the rings and pull a mandrake out of a pot and hear it scream (none of us fainted, however).

It was amazing to see just how small Dan Radcliffe was in the first movie when we stood in front of his "casual clothing". It's easy to forget all these years later that they really were just little kids when the first movie was made. And then there was a point where Dan and Emma were about the same height but Rupert was obviously taller.

Seeing the costume for Hagrid makes you realize how big he is. But the most chilling, creepy and yet totally awesome effect is the display showing Voldemort's rebirthing robes. The lighting is eerie and there is a gentle breeze blowing. But if you stand in just the right spot, you hear his voice, a clip from Deathly Hallows, that sounds like it is inside your head. I can't wait to see that in the movie.

We enjoyed all of it, even wandering around the gift shop at the end. I wish we could have taken pictures while we were inside, but it wasn't allowed, even without a flash. So, I bought the guide book for the Exhibition istead. What can I say - I have quite a collection of Harry Potter things and thought I might as well add a few more - my dorky side was showing.

Once we finished, we had a bite to eat and then spent another hour or so in the butterfly house at the Science Center. It has always been one of our favorite places to go, especially when the girls were younger. We went there as a family, but our best memories are of the sleep-overs with Camp Fire when the girls were junior high age. Now that we have found our way back, we vowed to come back another time, even after the Harry Potter Exhibit is gone.

Pat, who is now sooooo ready for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I"

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Getting ready for Deathly Hallows, Part I, the movie

I'm trying not to count down the days to "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I", but I really am. I've been rereading some of the books - well, relistening to them. I'm now listening to Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Every time I listen to it, or read it, I find that I like it much better than the first time through. There was so much in it when I first read it that I did really like it. However, now that we know the end, it's even better. It really is the first half of the last part of the story.

We're in the middle of redoing our family room - new carpeting, new furniture. updated entertainment center. So thinking about the Harry Potter books and the upcoming movie is quite a nice distraction from picking out furniture and spending money.

I've looked at the movie clips and have managed to see the trailer twice in a theater in the last few weeks. It's even better on the big screen - can't wait to see the movie, actually. Today I bought two of the Harry Potter calendars for 2011. I was going to buy one but couldn't decide which one - so I bought both. One has pictures from the new movie, while the other has a mixture of old and new. I think it's likely I'll switch them back and forth - so I won't have to look at Bellatrix for a whole month - I've never been fond of the way she looks in the movies as it's not at all the way I picture her.

I love the people who work at my local Barnes and Noble. When I bought the calendars today, the woman checking me out went into full flow about how excited she is for the movie to come out and asked if I had seen the trailers (she knew the answer, I'm sure). Of course, I've been going there for years and spend every Friday sipping a mocha while I read for a few hours, so they all know me. We talked briefly about the movie and the exhibit (below) and how much we will miss all of it when the last movie is finally over. But for the moment, I don't have to think about that.

The most immediate Harry Potter thing for me is that my daughters and I are going to the Harry Potter Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle this coming week. I was excited about it before it opened here, but now it sounds even better. It covers 10,000 sqare feet and has some never-seen-before things from the Deathly Hallows movie that have recently been added. I guess we are the last stop on that tour. The day I picked is after Halloween, to avoid that crowd, but several weeks before the movie. My hope is that it won't be so crowded since we are going on a week day. The three of us want time to just enjoy all of it. That day is probably going to be right in the middle of trying to schedule the carpet installation and the furniture delivery. Well, the carpet can wait a few days.

November is turning out to be a very busy month for us, with the downstairs improvements, all things Harry Potter and Thanksgiving at our house. It'll be great!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I

I've been looking at all the pictures and reading the updates on the first half of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It looks fantastic to me. I see that there are some changes. They always seem to change the colors that are in the book and, if one follows the alchemical theme, those colors are intentional on Rowling's part and important.

Instead of the wedding being golden, it is a lovely lavender - pretty but not the same. I was glad to see that Luna is dressed in yellow however. And then there is Hermione is a red dress rather than whatever it was in the book. I know it wasn't red. I suppose it makes it easier to follow the trio when they land in London.

But those things aside, the rest looks great.

I suppose also that it was decided that Harry and Hagrid escaping on Sirius's motorbike through the London streets would be more exciting than keeping them in the air. Another change I can live with.

Godric's Hollow looks amazing, though it's odd to think that Harry and Hermione could walk into the town looking like themselves.

I can't wait to see more of Snape. Since it looks like the locket Horcrux and pool in the forest and the Sword of Gryffindor are in this movie, that would mean we should see Snape's patronus and I really hope they get it right. The Silver Doe is by far my favorite chapter from the Deathly Hallows book and that image of Snape leading and watching over Harry is one of the most poignant.

In the meantime, I finished listening to Order of the Phoenix again. There are so many details in the books that I notice whenever I reread or relisten to one of them. Order is still one that I like the best - it gives Harry the chance he need to grow up. All the books before Order, Harry is fairly accepting of his place in the wizarding world even if he doesn't understand it. In Order, he finally expresses just how unfair it is to him or anyone else to be in his position as would-be savior of their world. That's quite a burden for anyone, especially a teenager and I always felt it was high time for Harry to deal with the frustration and unfairness of all of it. And yet, he willingly takes on the role and accepts the responsibility rather than hiding from it. I'm always struck by the contrast of the beginning and ending of the book. In the beginning, Harry hides from the Dursleys as he tries to hear information on the news; he is still pushed around by Vernon. But at the end, after their return to London and the talk Vernone receives from Lupin, Mad-eye and Arthur, it is Harry who is in charge, leading the Dursleys out of the station and back to Privet Drive. His problems aren't over, but he is ready to take charge of his life, and whatever lies ahead.

I'd like to listen to Half-Blood Prince, but it's now so close to the movie that I almost want to listen to Deathly Hallows again. Of course, there's always the point that I'll enjoy the movie more if I am not so tied to the book when I first see it.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Catching up with Harry, with Stephen Fry's help

I hadn't realized it has been so long since I've updated this blog. In with getting ready for Christmas, I spent time listening to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Goblet of Fire, while it is the middle book, is just not my favorite. There are some important things that we learn and clues that are the set-up for the rest of the books. But I'm just not that fond of all the action stuff. And that's a good portion of the book.

The parts that did interest me, especially in the way that Rowling presents it, have to do with all the information about Tom Riddle as Lord Voldemort. I remember when we waited at the midnight release to get Goblet of Fire - it's hard to believe it was really over nine years ago. Laura started reading it on the way home. But we couldn't remember who Tom Riddle was. We had to start back through all the books to refresh our memories to make that crucial connection.

The Yule Ball was a nice distraction from all the action. (And I love the dance lessons added into the movie - some of my favorite scenes.) Moaning Myrtle is priceless as well.

The part that I did like about the three tasks was that Harry showed that he cared more about others than about winning. He was competitive, but not when it came to the safety of others, even those he didn't know. And while being fair to Cedric didn't work the way he thought it would, Harry still made the right choice by recognizing that he couldn't have gotten to the goal without help. It was his sense of fairness that I admired.

This was the only book that gave me nightmares after I read it. I remember dreaming once aobut the scene with Voldemort's rebirth in the graveyard, and was sure that I'd been reading way too much Potter. But more than that, it was that scene that showed that Rowling was really telling a story that was more on young adult or adult level than the children's story that was being marketed.

It was a powerful book, and it still is whether I'm reading it or listening to Stephen Fry read it. The images are intense and lasting. It's this book that tells the reader to prepare for anything to happen. And that might mean the ending of the series won't be as happy as we all thought when we read the first couple of books.

It was nice to be able to go right from book 4 to book 5. Three years was a long time to wait when the books were new. I think that was part of the problem with the reception of Order of the Phoenix when it was released. Readers had waited so long and they had found plenty of forums to discuss any and all theories, not to mention that three years was plenty of time for all the would-be writers to try their hand at adding to the story or writing their own version.

By the time the book came out, readers had a pretty clear idea of where they thought the story was going. And Rowling didn't go there. One aspect of Order of the Phoenix that I particularly like is all the time we spent in Harry's mind. What did he think about Voldemort's return? Why hadn't anyone (Dumbledore) told him what was going on? Why could he see and feel the things that were in Voldemort's mind? Why wouldn't Dumbledore look at him?

Did I like a yelling Harry? No, not really. But I kept feeling that it was the right time for him to finally ask all those questions about his parents and his past. Not getting answers after so many years would make anyone angry - especially a fifteen year old. Stephen Fry's reading of this book brings out all the emotion that is in it - the anger, frustation, infatuation with Cho, tenuous trust with Harry's friends, his grief over Sirius.

And then there is Snape. There is always Snape. But it is this book that gives us more than a two-dimensional look at the man who will be so much a part of Harry at the end. It was rereading and discussing all the bits about Snape that gave so many their first clue that he wasn't the rotten git we were told he was. I wonder if we could have gone from this book to the next, without a break, if we would have figured any of it out. Maybe it was the time lag that allowed us to see through Rowling's clever portrayal of Snape, to see that there was some truth in what he told Harry about his father, and that Dumbledore did have a reason to trust him with his own life and Harry's life.

This book was the longest, and the criticism is always that it needed tighter editing. But what would I want left out? Perhaps the details of "Grawp's Tale", but nothing more. I love all the rest of it.

Now, time to start listening to Half-Blood Prince, if I can get my mp3 player to work. It's been a frustrating day, with one of them dying completely, and the other one just being weird. It shows that there are files taking up space but says everythign is empty. Last time I checked, it would show the files on the external card. I hope that still works, or I'm going to be very unhappy.