Monday, November 22, 2010


Yes, I'm still wild about Harry Potter, even though the latest film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, is far from the best. Since it's only the first half of the last book in the series, it's very much a middle act, lining up the players and setting the stage for the inevitable final showdown coming next summer in Deathly Hallows, Part 2.

But while we're all waiting for the other wand to drop and the saga to finally reach its climax, I thought it might be fitting in this most thankful time of year to revisit what we love about J. K. Rowling's fantasy series and the values it embraces—love, friendship, justice, and especially family, whether actual or surrogate. Beneath the spells, hexes, and magical hi-jinks, it's all about the friends and supporters Harry earns and the choices he makes on his progress through childhood, adolescence, and life, en route to his destiny.

As I wrote about Rowling and the Potter universe in a 2005 column, Potter Familias,

"Like any phenomenon whose perpetrator makes oodles of money and buys herself a castle in Scotland, the expected chorus of naysayers and detractors has risen up like Voldemort's dreaded Dark Mark to debunk J. K. Rowling's work as, you know, not all that great. Book critics who were orgasmic a few installments (and a few billion dollars) ago that Rowling was actually prying kids away from their Gameboys and reading books, now carp about the finer points of her prose style. I say, who cares about prose style? Rowling's books are, in a word, ripping—fast, thrilling reads over considerable thematic terrain that create a witty parallel universe of magic from which to observe the perils and absurdities of the world we all know. Rowling has done her homework; she knows every whistle stop on the classic hero's journey and depicts them with relish and imagination." (Read more)

(Can you believe the Harry Potter movie kids were ever this little? Watching them grow up in real-time onscreen has been terrific fun; it also illustrates Rowling's central theme of growing into the destiny one deserves.)

So enjoy your holiday and be thankful for the family with whom you share it, whether bonded to you by blood or choice. I'll meet you back here next week.

(Above: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint & Emma Watson in HP and the Sorcerer's Stone, 2001.)

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