Several people have been asking for my opinion on the new Harry Potter flick. I’m sorry to admit that I haven’t actually got round to seeing it yet, but I would also be lying if I suggested it was top of my list of priorities. Then again, Jane hasn’t seen it yet either and she is (allegedly) a fan. I’m told she reads the books and everything. On that note I’ve found myself around far too many groups — nay, covens — of people who prattle on about how no one should see the film until they have made sure they have read the book first else they will never be able to follow it. Bollocks to that. I’m sorry to shatter your delusions but that book is 636 pages of J.K. Rowling’s meticulously marketed rambling and not all of us have time to waste reading it. I’m perfectly satisfied with the idea that I may not understand the relevence of several shots and images in the film if it saves days of my life.
The honest truth is that I don’t enjoy the books: I don’t like the writing style. I have only read the first two in any great depth, and am told the second was particularly bad by most fans (who, if I recall, seemed to think it was the greatest thing since sliced Quidditch when they first read it). Nevertheless upon flicking through any of the weightier subsequent tomes I find that the author rambles more than Anne Rice. And that’s saying something. It’s true that most modern literature is overlong and poorly edited down, but its forgivable where the style is so flamboyant or captivatingly beautiful that they get away with it. For me, Potter is not one of those examples. Do not misunderstand me. This is not an exercise in Potter-bashing (wait, that just sounds wrong). Far from it: I quite understand them being read by those who enjoy that sort of thing. I merely wish to point out how presumptuous it is to expect every filmgoer to read the damn thing before daring to set foot inside the cinema. That’s like ordering every Lord of the Rings fan to read the virtually unreadable Silmarillion* before being allowed to watch Peter Jackson’s movies so that they have a full understanding of the backstory to Middle Earth. No thank you. I’m perfectly content to miss out and just enjoy myself when the time comes.
*I knew someone who voluntarily gouged out their own eyes after a few dozen pages, although I’ve never made it that far in myself.