Friday, September 11, 2009

Harry Potter and the Media Theorists

I've been reading the Harry Potter books (slowly, if you ask Miranda) and I really do enjoy them. I've also seen a few of the movies. What strikes me about Harry Potter most of all is the tremendous opportunity it is giving a whole generation of people to understand innately the process of adaptation. This generation will have read the books, loved the books, and then have watched the films and - this is the best part - loved the films. The films are profoundly different from the books, encourage the aesthetic assertions of a rotating cadre of auteurs, and cut out and sneak in all kinds of plot development and characterization. But by being shared so widely and in two separate media, and by being successful in both, The Harry Potter stories can, I think, shed a lot of light on what is the difference between Novels and Films. It will be exciting to see what difference this makes going forward.

I am especially interested in the responsibility of adaptations and the management of expectations in adaptation. The phrase "The book is always better than the movie" can, I think, be one day responsibly replaced by the truism, "the book is always different from the movie." This is the essence of the matter. The movie, the play, it will be different from the book. Abandon any notion otherwise, but, of course, still come see it.

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