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BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)

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Phot 31 May 04 - 01:42 PM
The Villan 31 May 04 - 02:04 PM
Stilly River Sage 31 May 04 - 03:24 PM
The Villan 31 May 04 - 03:29 PM
Blackcatter 31 May 04 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,Shlio 31 May 04 - 04:09 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 May 04 - 04:20 PM
Phot 31 May 04 - 04:38 PM
The Villan 31 May 04 - 04:49 PM
Stilly River Sage 31 May 04 - 07:23 PM
Naemanson 31 May 04 - 08:54 PM
Stilly River Sage 31 May 04 - 09:00 PM
Blackcatter 31 May 04 - 11:13 PM
Ellenpoly 02 Jun 04 - 04:13 AM
Lin in Kansas 02 Jun 04 - 04:49 AM
C-flat 02 Jun 04 - 06:29 AM
GUEST 02 Jun 04 - 09:06 AM
clueless don 02 Jun 04 - 09:18 AM
Stilly River Sage 02 Jun 04 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,MMario 02 Jun 04 - 10:31 AM
Ellenpoly 02 Jun 04 - 10:40 AM
GUEST 02 Jun 04 - 10:46 AM
C-flat 02 Jun 04 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Blackcatter 02 Jun 04 - 03:45 PM
Stilly River Sage 02 Jun 04 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,RWR 02 Jun 04 - 05:20 PM
Grab 02 Jun 04 - 05:48 PM
Blackcatter 02 Jun 04 - 07:30 PM
Stilly River Sage 02 Jun 04 - 08:29 PM
Blackcatter 02 Jun 04 - 09:05 PM
darkriver 03 Jun 04 - 12:49 AM
Ellenpoly 03 Jun 04 - 04:02 AM
KateG 03 Jun 04 - 10:59 AM
Stilly River Sage 03 Jun 04 - 11:01 AM
Blackcatter 03 Jun 04 - 11:45 AM
Ellenpoly 03 Jun 04 - 12:04 PM
Blackcatter 03 Jun 04 - 12:10 PM
Ellenpoly 03 Jun 04 - 12:16 PM
Amos 03 Jun 04 - 12:38 PM
Stilly River Sage 03 Jun 04 - 12:40 PM
Stilly River Sage 03 Jun 04 - 12:57 PM
Blackcatter 03 Jun 04 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,MMario 03 Jun 04 - 01:20 PM
Stilly River Sage 03 Jun 04 - 01:25 PM
Amos 03 Jun 04 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,MMario 03 Jun 04 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,MMario 03 Jun 04 - 01:41 PM
Tracey Dragonsfriend 03 Jun 04 - 01:46 PM
Stilly River Sage 03 Jun 04 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,MMario 03 Jun 04 - 01:56 PM
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Subject: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Phot
Date: 31 May 04 - 01:42 PM

Just got back from seeing Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, and its pretty damm good!
Good performances from the whole cast, and some great one liners for the older generation to appreciate, the talking head on the night bus had me in stiches, (I'm sure its played by Lenny Henry) and Ron gets more gormless every year! The CGI effects will blow your mind, all in all, a sure fire hit.

Wassail!!

Chris (Age 7......going on 39!)


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: The Villan
Date: 31 May 04 - 02:04 PM

This is what my wife and daughter thought

Overall opinion - Not as good as the first

Best Actor/Actress - Timothy Spalding who played Peter Petigrew - AKA Scabbers the Rat

Best Scene - Professor Lupin turns into a wherewolf

Scary - A bit, its been over emphasised

Special effects - Great

Harry Potter - he was a bit wooden (bland)

Hermione - Brilliant

Ron - Brilliant

Worth watching 9/10

Value for money 9/10


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 31 May 04 - 03:24 PM

So we can assume that anyone reading this thread should have already read the book since you're discussing things that they should be surprised by and happen late in the story.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: The Villan
Date: 31 May 04 - 03:29 PM

Not sure there.

I haven't read a Harry Potter book or seen the films.

I guess that my families comments would only be appreciated by people who are well into Harry Potter.

Overall by what they had to say, it was a film well worth seeing.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Blackcatter
Date: 31 May 04 - 03:32 PM

I heard he gets held back


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: GUEST,Shlio
Date: 31 May 04 - 04:09 PM

I saw the "making of" the film - I'm hoping it'll be an improvement on the first two. Isn't Daniel Radcliffe always bland?


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 May 04 - 04:20 PM

That'd be Timothy Spall, not Spalding. Better known - till now - in the UK than the USA. Brilliant actor.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Phot
Date: 31 May 04 - 04:38 PM

Stilly River Sage.

Never assume.....Check.

Chris


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: The Villan
Date: 31 May 04 - 04:49 PM

Thanks for the correction there M o H :-)

Good to see somebody spotted the deliberate error. LOL


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 31 May 04 - 07:23 PM

And how would you do that, Phot? This thread wasn't titled "Don't read if you haven't read the book." So you expect someone who hasn't read it to "check" the thread and OOOPS! they saw something they didn't want to see.

Duh. See the problem?

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Naemanson
Date: 31 May 04 - 08:54 PM

It's a good thing my girlfriend likes Harry Potter. In fact she is probably more excited over this film than I am.

And, don't worry about me, Sagey, I've read all the books.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 31 May 04 - 09:00 PM

Brett, I haven't read the last book yet, but they haven't caught up to me with the movies so I'm safe. I'll read it this summer. Any idea when the next book is coming out? And do you have first-run movies in Guam?
;-D

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Blackcatter
Date: 31 May 04 - 11:13 PM

I read the first book it was really over-rated.

I saw the first two movies - surprising that they could make movies that good from such hackneyed writing.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 04:13 AM

Ahhhh Blackcatter, you disappoint me!

The third book is the best by far in my opinion. I'm on my way to see the film in an hour or so. The trailors have looked pretty good, I must say.

The next book doesn't have a due date. Don't hold your breath.

..xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Lin in Kansas
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 04:49 AM

My grandson extracted a promise from me months ago to take him to see the movie "as soon as it gets here," which for Wichita is this Friday. So I reckon I know where we'll be for part of this weekend. Personally, I wouldn't miss it for the world. (He's now read all five of the books at least twice, and I think he's read the fifth one [the b-i-g one] three. I read the first three to him the first time, then he took over and read the next one to me. Thank you, Ms. Rowling--his reading has greatly improved!

Lin


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: C-flat
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 06:29 AM

I agree Lin in Kansas, my 7 year-old would have been phased to tackle such large books prior to getting the Potter bug. I have read them all with her and she has gone on to re-read them all herself along with a range of other books that I doubt she would have picked up otherwise.
Whatever you think of the writing style of Rowling, she's lit a fire in many young minds.
As for the films, I've found them all quite enjoyable and look forward to seeing this latest offering although I get a good feeling when I hear my daughter say that she prefers the books!
C-flat.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 09:06 AM

Complete and utter rubbish


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: clueless don
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 09:18 AM

I just want to express one person's presumably minority opinion: I thought that Daniel Radcliffe (sp?) was excellent in the first two movies. Haven't seen the third one yet.

Don


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 10:21 AM

Since the topic came up, and since I hadn't read the fifth book yet, nor has my youngest, we started reading it out loud last night while we sat huddled in the hall waiting for the storm and the tornado sirens to stop. Got several chapters in--quite exciting!

I've checked around and find that the Harry Potter movie is being shown in an IMAX format in Dallas. It's very expensive to go, but we're considering making the trip over.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 10:31 AM

I've enjoyed all the books. Great literature they are not - but they are a pleasant read - and they *do* capture the attention of many young readers.

I've thoroughly enjoyed the first two movies and am looking forward to seeing the third - though it won't be for a while as I refuse to go to theatres.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 10:40 AM

Just got back from seeing it. Good stuff, and for me, definitely the best of the bunch. Radcliff is still trying to earn his acting chops, but he gets better in each film. Everyone else, including all the new faces, are excellent.

Sit back and enjoy the ride, folks.

Now back to impatiently waiting for Book 6!..xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 10:46 AM

I'm already impatiently awaiting book seven.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: C-flat
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 11:30 AM

Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 09:06 AM

"Complete and utter rubbish "




Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 10:46 AM

"I'm already impatiently awaiting book seven."



I wish Guest could be more consistant. :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: GUEST,Blackcatter
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 03:45 PM

Sorry Ellen,

But I don't have a lot of time to read fun things. I've spent a great deal of time reading "literature" and prefer it to most fiction. That's just me. If it's getting kids to read other things, great, but how many of them are going to read anything real?

Reading other fantastic stuff, spurred on by HP, is like watching more sitcoms because you like Friends. Hardly mind expanding. Our church has a book reading program for our kids, which they can enroll in once they begin to read. While they are welcome to read HP, he ask them to read other things too - biorgraphy, history, historic fiction and other subjects. Things that the local public schools don't even bother with.

There is noting wrong with "fun" reading, but if kids are reading fun stuff nearly all the time that they are reading - just how different is that to playing videos or watching movies?

And do any of you (and please understand that I'm not indicting you) who are parents, sit down asn discuss the events in the books?

Do you have discussions of what exactly is magic and witchcraft?

How about the protrayal of muggles (since I have not read any of the books but the first, I'm no expert, but are there significant positive representations of muggles, or are your kids being taught that it's alright to stereotype)?

Do non-British kids understand the public/private school concept?

Is there any question why nearly all the main characters are white and middle to upper middle class?

Do you discuss the magical creatures and where in mythology/folklore the author got them?


That was how I was brought up. My father always sat me down after I finished a book (he had already read it) and we discussed it - what didn't I understand. What did I learn, etc. I will admit that even HP can teach kids (and adult) things, but one must examine the information before one truly understands it.


Sorry to go on.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 04:21 PM

Blackcatter, you're attempting to throw a wet blanket over this category of book and film, and I think it's unnecessary. If you were talking about something like Dick, Jane, and Spot I'd have no argument. But Harry Potter is a success on many levels. First, they are well-written, well-conceived, and well-developed stories. They're exciting and entertaining to read and they touch on all sorts of topical and cultural issues. If you'd seen the movies (or read later books) then you'd know that they aren't all just white upper-middle-class participants in the stories.

I don't think you can support the Friends-to-other-sitcoms argument in relation to these books. Reading fantasy in Harry Potter then going to other types of fantasy is NOT a "Reading Lite" diet. There is lots of excellent quality fantasy (a young friend of mine was finally convinced that reading is fun when he got hooked on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and after looking for more like it, found other good literature to read). I have an MA in English Lit and have many friends here in the English dept who love the Harry Potter books. Some read out of curiosity, some read to their children. It's fun and literate. That's enough, and when we spend a lot of time reading other important texts, it's nice to cleanse the palate. Harry Potter isn't pulp fiction for kids.

I have read all of these books out loud to my children. That's a helluva lot of reading. And while we're reading, if questions come up or topics need to be addressed, we address them. You mention some concerns here that we have been discussed at some point and some context, whether to do with the book or the film.

My kids understand about the art involved between books and screenplays--and that books have much more room and time to develop ideas. We've talked about what must be done to tell the story in a film and to still give the flavor and as much depth as possible of the story. (They learned much of this after we read To Kill a Mockingbird then watched the movie a little later. And then the screenwriter, Shelby Foote, was on a local radio call-in talk show and I called and asked him about that and passed along his answers to the kids).

The thing I've discussed most seriously with the kids is the behavior as it relates to the Dursleys and Harry Potter. His relationship with Dudley is not good, and has been abusive in both directions. In this fifth book I see a shift. I haven't finished the book or even the Dursley section, so I won't say more. But there seems to be a bit more understanding going on, even with the hard-headed uncle and aunt and pudgy punkish cousin.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: GUEST,RWR
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 05:20 PM

Just been to see the film with husband and 4 kids. Husbands comment - 'like watching paint dry' 2x 6 year olds - 'a bit scary'10 year old 'great' 12 year old 'they cut all the immportant information from the books out'

personally I thought the other two were better though I am known for having no taste


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Grab
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 05:48 PM

Blackcatter, you read things that are appropriate to your age, intellect and stage of development. To make children read anything that *isn't* fun is to put them off reading for life. HP has enough depth in it to provide more than just fluff, but is still interesting and fun enough to keep kids involved. On the TV/films front, if you only ever took your kids to the cinema to watch Ingmar Bergman and Dogme "arthouse" films, you can guarantee they'd never want to go to the cinema!

If you think fantasy is just fluff, you're reading the wrong stuff. I can find you tons of fluff in every department of book-dom, and some unmissable gems as well. "Literature" is no less fluffy and valueless (yes, Thomas Hardy, I'm looking at you ;-) than the rest. For fantasy, think of HG Wells, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein, Aldous Huxley, etc, and then dare to say that fantasy is all just fluff...

Re your discussions of books with your dad, he was doing a good job in following you through reading. OTOH though, the lessons learnt best are the ones you pick up yourself. So rather than a discussion of "where did that monster come from", follow their HP book reading with a book of Greek myths, for instance, and they can work out the derivation themselves. Or contrast with Terry Pratchett's witches, with the emphasis on power imposing a duty to protect.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film
From: Blackcatter
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 07:30 PM

Well I wasn't saying that all Fantasy is fluff, but what I see the kids in my church carrying around certainly is.

And if taking a contrary point of view on this list is "throwing a wet blanket," At least I'm explaining my problems with the issue, unlike the people who just say something like "I don't like it" and leave.

Give me a list of the main characters and they're race and class. I've seen the first two movies. Didn't see harly ANY speaking parts by blacks or asians (and from what I know of modern day U.K. that's hardly a good representation).

So rather than a discussion of "where did that monster come from", follow their HP book reading with a book of Greek myths, for instance, and they can work out the derivation themselves

- That's great - how many kids are doing that?

I grew up playing Dungeons and Dragons and other RPCs. I, and a few friends (maybe 2 or 3) took what we learned from the games and did further research in the world of mythology, arms and weapontry and general middle ages history. Most of the dozens of the kids we played with barely even read through all the books connected with the games.

That is the responsibility of parents and teachers - to show and encourage. my dad didn't hand me any answers - he helped me find them or figure them out on my own.

-----------

By the way - I'm not offended, but I don't really appreciate people reading into my comments. Please do me the courtesy taking them at face value and if you don't understand something, ask for clarification. I doubt that Harry Potter would do that.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 08:29 PM

Blackcatter, there are wizards and muggles and house elves and goblins and snakes and giants and ghosts and centaurs and spiders--all would constitute at the very least different types that have the equivalent of races (in that they all speak and think and interact as they do with the wizards). Harry's slight romantic interest in the fourth book is a young woman wizard who is Asian.

Class vs Race are often confused with each other, and that might be the case here. We aren't generally told what the race of the various characters are, but we are given clues as to where in society they fit. If race is presumed based on class, then the reader is doing much of that himself. Not all readers will bring the same interpretations to the levels of income and the races.

What do you think was "read into your comments?" They were responded to in an open and frank manner. Clearly there are differing views of the quality of these books and the interpretations of the stories and characters therein.

On a note related to your comments on reading mythology as a source of monsters, I found a wonderful little book in the remainders at Half Price Books recently. It is called It's Greek To Me!--Brush Up Your Classics (HarperCollins, 1991) and it gives wonderfully concise descriptions of many stories and creatures and ideas that have made their way into modern times from ancient Greek myth and philosophers. It's by Michael Macrone, who was teaching English and Western Civilization at UC Berkeley at the time he wrote this.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban
From: Blackcatter
Date: 02 Jun 04 - 09:05 PM

Well not to bea a dead horse, but are you associating the various trolls, elves, goblins and the like as being an acceptable substitution for real humans who aren't caucasian? I wonder how all the non-white people living in the U.K. would feel about that?

I said in my original post - "middle and upper-middle class." You left out the "middle" in your response. You seemed to assume that I meant all fantasy in my statement. I'm sorry if that wasn't as clear as I hoped, but the connection with sit-coms is still a valid one - there are good, substantial and ground-breaking sitcoms, but I doubt that most people who watch Friends will be interested in anything more than the fluff type.

Grab seemed to think that I was suggesting that we should make kids read stuff that they wouldn't like or is above their heads. I didn't say that and never meant to even imply that. He at least says "If you think fantasy is fluff . . ." yet he goes on to say "For fantasy, think of HG Wells, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkein, Aldous Huxley, etc, and then dare to say that fantasy is all just fluff..." Which seems to imply that I am not aware those authors. He also seems to thinks that my dad primarily handed me answers to all my questions, which he did not.

Of course I could be wrong. If so, I apologize. But I do take people's statements at face value. But your response started with the "wet blanket" statement even though I was attempting to enter into a serious conversation. I didn't mean to offend and you didn't offend me, but I didn't really appreciate that comment.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: darkriver
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 12:49 AM

Blackcatter,

I respect your opinions, and see the merit in your argument.

However, (you could tell there was going to be a 'however', yes?) I think that you are not giving these books credit for what they are, and are perhaps criticizing them for what they are not. IMO, the HP books fit squarely within a tradition--maybe two or three traditions, and the limitations of the books are the limitations of the genre. Great literature it's not, so the genre is probably not remade or transcended, but why belittle what is there?

They're a Bildungsroman--foundling grows to find his path in the world, finding substitutes for parents he never knew, stumbling through what's offered, and beset at almost every turn with moral choices to make--set in the framework of a traditional Brit public school. Within those limitations, I think Rowling has provided some very witty and thoughtful variations on the traditional themes.

I have read the books with pleasure (and sometimes with irritation). Sometimes the pleasure is private, such as my understanding of the overtones of the names of the magician characters, or the names of the spells, and sometimes more public, in my enjoyment of my children's enjoyment of the dialogue or action. My irritation is sometimes due to the limitations seemingly placed on some characters and relationships--and in my mind this is the weakest part of the series--but I have some hope that perhaps Rowling is going to surprise us, and go somewhere with these relationships. The events in the fifth book, about Harry's father being a conceited bully and about Snape's humiliation, hint at a possible line of development that may transcend the initial limitations--which would be a lot more profound than the initial impression we've been given.

(Sorry--I've just reread that last sentence and am now going to go to my room in shame. I hope the authorities don't come and shoot me for writing it.)

But I hope you see what I mean.

doug


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 04:02 AM

Much has already been said here in which I am in agreement-especially from Stilly River Sage.

I have loved reading these books, and I will continue to read the final two when they finally make their appearance.

There are stacks around my flat, both of "Adult" and "Children's" books- fiction and non. It's my main preoccupation in life, and I won't bother going into all my feelings about books and reading, except to say that ANYTHING which can encourage people to read is fine by me. Of course, what they read is dependent on myriad factors, many of which change with age and circumstance.

In my opinion, most real education begins with enthusiasm. If JK Rowling can start that ball rolling, bless her..xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: KateG
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 10:59 AM

One of the great leaps in life is the moment when reading suddenly stops being a chore and becomes a way to have a new world blossom in your mind. Too many children in our (US at any rate) educational system never make that transition. From everything I've read about them, Rowling's Harry Potter books are bringing more children to that point, so that they finish the book(s) and say "That was great, what else can I read." For that alone, her books should be prized above rubies.

As to Blackcatter's criticism of the lack of ethnic diversity -- that may be more a function of Hollywood than Rowling. The books make it very clear that Hogwarts includes students of many races and ethnicities --- and regards the variety as something so normal as not to need comment or explanation. In my book this puts it far ahead of much of the great children's literature of the past, which either has no non-white characters (Heidi, Black Beauty, Wrinkle in Time.....) or deals with race in a manner that is troubling today (Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn, Uncle Tom's Cabin, Five Little Peppers & How They Grew....). This is not to say that these older books are not without merit, they are classics for a reason, but it's nice to have a popular series of children's books that doesn't ignore diversity, or present in on a silver platter for additional PC brownie points.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 11:01 AM

Good discussion of the book. My "wet blanket" remark was not meant to have such a wide implication as it took on, but some interesting responses have come from it. For those who are curious about the Bildungsroman term, I'll stick a short analysis at the bottom of this post. There are a whole series of terms that require a dictionary to decipher, but this is a good general one. An example of classic literature that fits this description is Dicken's Great Expectations.1

I still don't think you can support that Friends argument, even if I think you're recognizing a correlation that plays out in what the networks hope for in their programming planning--they all want to have the "next Friends" or the "next Seinfeld." Too many people cross over between genres if they have the time for tv watching. Slumming in the sitcoms before heading back to other programming. It's like suggesting the books for "summer reading" must be of a certain casual, more pot-boiler nature. Some books are, a lot aren't. Because the pseudo-genre exists (thanks to Madison Avenue) doesn't necessarily mean people participate in it.

I didn't suggest that non-human characters in Harry Potter books substitute for non-white characters. That would lead to an almost Social Darwinist approach to the novels which Rowling clearly doesn't intend and is way too oversimplified when looking at these texts.

What I suggest is that there are both overt and covert representations of class in those characters. There are examples that allow for your reading of my reading, such as Hillary's battle to elevate the house elves in one of the later books. Chaos erupts because it isn't handled well. There are some interesting social parallels that can be drawn from this and might come into play later. But on the whole, this white/non-white type of characters doesn't hold up. If you introduce speaking or communicating non-human characters they are going to be integrated into the imaginary community based on how they compare to the main human characters. Their personalities and behaviors really are are across the board in these novels. There is a lot of tradition to what Rowling is doing, and she does go with a lot of pre-existing stereotypes (goblins are not very approachable and don't seem to care for humans, trolls are nasty and stupid). She is only going to change those stereotypes on a case-by-case basis if she develops characters who are counter to the Northern European storytelling tradition. She's working with a lot of material that is embedded in the language, but it isn't fair to layer in racial readings.

These books are clearly mapped out, but they aren't all written yet. I have just started book five myself, and I see a glimmer of social criticism. In my reading of how these characters have been developed (speculation of future plot developments ahead--avoid if you don't want to see where I think these might be going!!!) I think both Rowling and her characters must examine their own myth that has been created. Harry didn't know anything about his past until he went to Hogwarts. What he first encounters is the myth, the larger than life parents. As book five is starting we're beginning to see a reexamination of just what people really know, and how they relate to each other. I think that in the end Snape is going to be the best thing that ever happens to Harry Potter, but he's going to be the kind of father-figure who will make sure Harry sees the world warts-and-all.

There is a lot of the Dickens tradition in the Harry Potter books.

SRS


1. Bildungsroman. See http://65.107.211.206/victorian/genre/hader1.html for a look at different types of novels in this Victorian scheme of literature.

An exerpt from the page:


    1. A Bildungsroman is, most generally, the story of a single individual's growth and development within the context of a defined social order. The growth process, at its roots a quest story, has been described as both "an apprenticeship to life" and a "search for meaningful existence within society."


    2. To spur the hero or heroine on to their journey, some form of loss or discontent must jar them at an early stage away from the home or family setting.

    3. The process of maturity is long, arduous, and gradual, consisting of repeated clashes between the protagonist's needs and desires and the views and judgments enforced by an unbending social order.

    4. Eventually, the spirit and values of the social order become manifest in the protagonist, who is then accommodated into society. The novel ends with an assessment by the protagonist of himself and his new place in that society.

    Great Expectations is widely considered to be a direct descendant of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, the prototypical Bildungsroman. Aurora Leigh takes the genre and complicates it with problems of gender in Victorian society. Waterland reconsiders personal growth in a postmodern context, using narrative not for description, but rather as the vehicle for maturation.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban
From: Blackcatter
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 11:45 AM

Thank you all for your thoughtful responses - you have educated me on the books more than I was before, though some of my opinions are still my opinions (and of course, I'm not the only one to hold them, just one of the few who bothered to post to this thread).

As for The books make it very clear that Hogwarts includes students of many races and ethnicities --- and regards the variety as something so normal as not to need comment or explanation.

I will take your word for it, but I has said twice that I'm interested in the main characters. - Blacks in the U.S. are quite used to being represented by minor "throwaway" characters in TV, movies and plays. May be it is "Hollywood," but the three main protatanist children and the main three antagonist children and the teachers that I'm aware of all appear to be white. And true enough class distinction in the stories isn't a big deal, but the "poor" boy (sorry, I can't remember his name) seems to come from a house that is filled with a heck of a lot more stuff than any of the poor people I know.

Do I think that the books/movies are require to be racially diverse and acknowledge people from different classes? No, of course not, but in the U.S. we continue to struggle with such issues - they divide our country and our children often do not get exposed to people of other races and ecconomic levels.

I wonder how well the books sell to black and asian children?

Thank you again for your thoughtful responses.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 12:04 PM

These books seem to have crossed most barriers,Blackcatter. They are sold in dozens (and dozens) of countries and I have personally seen children of all colours reading them with great enjoyment.

Of course one can find fault with these books. I would encourage you to read them all, though. (Especially the third one). There are many issues at least touched upon, and maybe that's all we could hope for given the saga and what Rowling is trying to do to keep the story flowing.

I think if you can find the time to read the third (and possibly the fourth?), you'll see why we want to defend this series so forcefully.

..xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban
From: Blackcatter
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 12:10 PM

I just hope that the kids are getting what you get out of them.

I don't see that in my community.

I'm afraid it'll be some time before I have a chance to read any more of them. I'm an historian - I read on and off all day and I look through personal interviews I've conducted over the past few years.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Ellenpoly
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 12:16 PM

Fair enough. We're back to why no one should be forced to think of reading as a chore.

I'll be more than happy to find time to read them all again!

..xx..e


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Amos
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 12:38 PM

I think it bears mentioning here, Blackcatter, that you are trotting out a criterion -- a certain sort of class and race egalitarian consciousness -- which is not necessarily part of any bargain the authoress (autrix?) made with herself or others in creating this universe.

I think there is a great deal of implicit tolerance portrayed amongst the young people in the books, and as SRS points out it is as though the tolerance is so normal as to be unnoteworthy.

To keep stretching after the way these books do or do not portray a character cast blended according to your preferred proportions is, it seems to me, straining. I am sure Rowlings never imagined in her wildest hopes that she would become so widely read, and it happened only after she had completely defined the main characters.

As for "muggles" -- well, maybe there was a little intolerance in that regard, but it was earned!! :>))

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 12:40 PM

In this day and age in which Political Correctness is a protocol of overcompensation for social and political inequities, it's more common to find a racially mixed group of pals in the movies than it is to find a single race represented. If we look at your example of Friends, aren't all of them white? I didn't watch the program, so I can't speak to who they are or who the guest stars might have been who appeared in various episodes. Does that make Friends the exception to the PC rule?

There are few countries in the world that can probably make any claims about the high numbers of indigenous people and a lack of minorities in their populations (i.e. pick some period in time before massive colonization or immigration and look at the population, and compare it to today's population census).

When Rowling started writing these stories, is it safe to imagine that she was hoping to have her books published and read by a few children for the life of the book's run? If so, could she write a book that fit a particular niche in a particular nation, and fill that niche happily without too many demands for cultural diversity because she's writing to the population present in her world? Can she have a world view that presumes many races are extant in the audience (as suggested by KateG) and assume that the faces reading her stories will reflect that diversity? What happens when a story hits hyperdrive and explodes beyond the boundaries of that nation and beyond the boundaries of the language in which it was written?

Later on I'll do a search for any scholarly discussions of the Harry Potter series. One has to work to avoid the moniker of "apologist" when giving a postmodern reading to a popular culture series that often receives a formalist reading from some non-academic (or religious fundamentalist) media critics. There is a lot of baggage within any language, and English is one of the largest (if not the largest) languages. There is also a lot of idomatic material within any given language that may not translate well into other languages or even be understood in other English speaking countries. Some of this may be part of what you're seeing or not seeing.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 12:57 PM

High-five, Amos. I see we cross posted along the same lines.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban
From: Blackcatter
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 01:12 PM

Hi - first of all - I wasn't using Friends in a positive way - so I have little comments on it when it comes to race, etc.

In my 11:45 posts I clearly say that I do not think that the books/movies are required to be racially diverse.

I initially brought up the topic of racial diversity as a possible "talking point" that parents and teachers might use in conversation with kids (and adults as well!) It was one of 5 points that I put together while writting my comments. It was not supposed to be an indictment of the books/movies. I was just suggesting that if the books/movies focus on mostly white characters, that that would be something to discuss.

That comment was taken and seemingly was felt that the books/movies needed to be defended. I responded to the defenses. That was all.

Thank you again.

By the way - two people have PMed me and told me I shouldn't "hijack" this thread with my critisism. I hope you all know I wasn't intending to do so.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 01:20 PM

it definatly does not seem to be "hijacked" to me - rather a discussion - more on topic then many in many threads.

My impression of Hogwarts has always been of a very racially mixed student body - though I find on looking back I can't point to anything that reflects that.


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 01:25 PM

oops--little senior moment there--I called Hermione "Hillary." And there I was wondering if it had one "l" or two. :)

Blackcatter, don't worry about posting substantive conversation to a light-weight thread--"I liked it" and "I didn't" can only go so far.

You introduced the topic here, and it has been examined and rebutted here by several folks--but we're responding to each other now, not picking on you for posting your original talking point. Your points were valid, and are what we might encounter in other venues.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Amos
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 01:29 PM

Highjacked? It seems to me we are exactly opn course, discussing the film Prisone rof Azkaban, and by necessity its textual parent.

MM's remark is perhaps representative of that tacit tolerance I was speaking of. When the "English" students meet students from other schools, there is a ready flexibility to communicate and share and so on. The only tensions develop over improtant issues like sports and the developing confrontation between Good and Evil.

I concur, BC, that inviting a child to notice what he has seen in the book by discussing it is a good idea. Using racial diversity is a good idea, too, IMHO.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 01:30 PM

y'know - they introduced two other schools of magic in book 4 - maybe in book six or seven there will be exchange students from even further schools of magic - be interesting if Rowley introduced someone who's (magical) background wasn't Eurocentric - Native American - or Polynesian, or Australian aborigine.

But it would probably take the book places she wasn't looking to go at the moment.

*grin* she did mention a possible 'prequel' about James and Lily on her website tho'


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 01:41 PM

the other conflict that is shown is the muggle/wizard - where you have a full spectrum - from muggles who are totallly unaware of wizards - to those who are aware and to some extent follow what is happening in the wizarding world (examples would be Hermione's parents - based on comments she makes) to muggles who mix with wizards - becoming friends, marrying, etc. - to those who are aware of wizards and activly ignore or avoid them (the dursleys) - plus the full spectrum of wizards - from those for whom anything other the "pure-blood" is anaethma - to those more or less raised as muggles -

plus of course the whole "half-blood" bit with giants, veela's and possibly other races/species of magical creatures.

then you have the "squibs" - essentially muggles born to wizardly parents - some of whom live in wizard society - some of whom live in muggle society -


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Tracey Dragonsfriend
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 01:46 PM

Hmmm... I never even noticed the nationality of colour of any of the cast. They all spoke English, which is typically my hint as to a nationality - beyond that, it seems I don't pay much attention. But then someone had to point out to me that one of the Tellytubbies was a different colour, too. I'm always interested in other cultures & religions, and skin colour is sometimes a "mental nudge" to me that a person might have something different & interesting to say, but I don't really pay much attention to it beyond that.
I had this problem at a previous company, where someone I'd hired was the first Asian persion there, and this was seens as an issue. I's only thought of it in passing, in terms of what a beautiful coffee-cream light-brown colour she was, and how well the colour of her shirt suited her skin! If you can speak English (as that's where we're living & working) and do your job (whatever that is), I didn't then, and don't now see what the issue is. I don't seem to consciously notice what colour people are, unless there's something special that it could be relevant to, or have a bearing on.

I'm wondering if this "skin-blindness" is due to living in London, or to being a constant reader of fantasy of all kinds, or to being a technician, with a technician's mindset, or what. But it seems to me that the practice of checking things for the "right number" of races, sexes, ages, or whatever, is kind of missing the point - Surely it shouldn't really matter, should it?

Unless, I suppose, it's relevant to the internal logic of the setting or the script of something. For example, it wouldn't be convincing to see a pink Frenchman play Bob Marley, nor a brown Nigerian woman play James Bond, or Heathcliff, because we know the background of these characters.
In this case, logically, the Harry Potter books have the "feel" of being set quite a while ago, when the populace of their setting of "middle England" would not have been so diverse anyway, so it makes sense. When I was a child in Norfolk, only 25-30 years ago, everyone was that same boring pinky-type English colour, and anyone from Wales or Scotland, was a rarity. To meet someone from another country, or of another skin colour was really unusual & interesting.

Anyway, I've rattled on enough! I really enjoyed the first two movies (not as good as the books, but then they never are), and am looking forward to this new one no end...


Cheers
Tracey


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 01:49 PM

Thanks, Leo--I came across "squib" in this latest book and couldn't remember what that was. And you're right--Hagrid is a relatively complex mixed blood character who has yet to come into his own in this story.

SRS


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Subject: RE: BS: New Harry Potter Film (Prisoner of Azkaban)
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 03 Jun 04 - 01:56 PM

part of what I find fascinating is the different reactions of the characters that are suppossedly based on their backgrounds - yet differ between those of the same backgrounds.

Lily Potter and Mrs. Dursley - sisters , both muggle-born- but one embraces her magic, marries into the wizarding world ; the other activly surpresses anything to do with magic.

The janitor at Hogwarts - a squib - and from what little we've been told about him bitter due to the fact ; while one of Harry's neighbors on Privat Lane is also a squib - but seems to be very well adjusted about it.

Voldemort who denies his muggle heritage; Hermione who defends it. The Malfoys who seem to detest anything muggle versus the Weasleys who are fascinated with muggledom.

There's material enough presented already for another 20 or so books.


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