Andrew [Show Intro with music in background]: This is MuggleCast - Episode 3 for August 21, 2005. If you haven't finished reading Half-Blood Prince yet, and you don't want to be spoiled, stop this podcast...
Ben: Hello everybody! Welcome back to MuggleCast. I'm Ben Schoen.
Andrew: I'm Andrew Sims.
Jamie: I'm Jamie Lawrence.
Eric: And I'm Eric Scull.
Ben: In case you guys didn't notice, Kevin Steck is missing in action this week. Poor guy sort of has his priorities mixed up. He flew out to Washington to see the DMB concert, but never fear- this week we're joined by two senior staff members from MuggleNet.com. Both have been here nearly three years: Jamie Lawrence from Great Britain and Eric Scull is joining us from Reading, Pennsylvania. How are you guys doing?
Jamie: I'm good, mate.
Ben: How about you, Eric?
Eric: Doing great thanks.
Ben: This past week we've seen quite a few clips from the new movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. We've seen an international teaser trailer released and the movie actually looks like it is shaping up to be something good. Andrew Sims, what do you think about it?
Andrew: Well, I think this international trailer really built on the teaser trailer that was released here in the States. And this one really shows that the artistic ability of Alfonso, the director of Prisoner of Azkaban, really rubbed off on to Mike Newell, and we're seeing a lot more action. It's very intense as you can see from the trailer, and this is just looking to be one of the best movies.
Ben: Jamie do you have something to say about that?
Jamie: I was going to say it is really clear it has a fantasy feel to it. It's very reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, and I think they've found some inspiration there. It shows the darker aspects to the series. If you fast-forward to thirty-two seconds, it has a very battle-type of feel to it with sides of good and evil. I just hope this is going to be continued into Order of the Phoenix and the Half-Blood Prince because it is clear the books are taking a much darker turn, and I think it's time for the films to catch up with that.
Ben: Yeah. I completely agree with both of you guys. In Episode One, I brought up the fact that I didn't like the way that the characters were looking in some of the pictures that we had seen, but from the clips we've seen, and actually seeing the characters in action, I think the movie is going to shape up to be the best one yet (in the series of movies that we've seen so far). Eric Scull, do you have anything to say?
Eric: Ah, yes. Actually, I definitely agree with what all of you were saying. I know Ben was saying how at the beginning it didn't...it's shaping up to be something nice. I think it really has been since the start. I've always been positive. Of course, there was some controversy about Fleur looking too young or something. But I think it's going to be a great movie, and I love what Jamie was saying about it being darker. It's time for this series to turn like that. I think so too. Also, what Andrew was saying about kind of taking off of Alfonso's artistic...his creativity with that. I just think it's great. It's a culmination of the two different directors that we've had so far...a movie in itself...even better special effects: the Hungarian Horntail and the Triwizard Tournament. It's just going to be a great movie and I'm very pleased with all the media we're getting, and all the trailers and things.
Jamie: What you were saying first of all Eric, about the series being a lot smoother at the beginning, I think that's right. Because the book Chamber of Secrets...the basilisk...every single person who saw it got petrified. Nobody died. And I think at that time it sort of gave people a false sense of security. You saw it and you thought, "I don't think anybody's going to die in these books", but obviously in Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, and Half-Blood Prince that all changes, and that sense of security that you've had in the first few films is just gone. That's also changed with a change of director as well. You've had Columbus who has put forward a very sort of fantasy/fairy-tale type thing. Which isn't a bad thing because those three are more children's films, whereas Alfonso and Mike, they're trying to darken the movies to tie in with the complete change in the books.
Andrew: You mentioned how Chris Columbus put...he had a fantasy touch on it, but it seemed to me that he did Sorcerer's Stone and Chamber of Secrets and both of those were very...I hate to say childish, because in a way it was, but the actors were a lot younger then. It wasn't as dark, but I think with these new directors- they want to put a darker spin onto it.
Ben: But then, what you have to see with the first two movies is that the kids were 11 and 12 years old so the movies didn't have to be as dark as they're made out to be because they were rated PG.
Andrew: Yeah. That's what I mean.
Andrew: Just the difference between Columbus and then Alfonso, it was just such a huge difference in how the movies were made. For one, Alfonso, he totally dressed them down (the actors). They didn't wear their cloaks all the time.
Andrew: They walked around in your typical clothing, and he made it a lot more serious. I think. Not as magical.
Ben: Jamie, what do you think of the direction the movies have been going with a change from director to director?
Jamie: I think it's important to get a range of directors. I think Chris Columbus in the first three certainly put his own personal touch onto it. And while Andrew said that he doesn't want to use the word childish, I agree because they aren't childish films in the slightest. It did have a much more relaxed feel about it, but it's also important to remember that these films are totally different from the books, and you cant really have complaints that they don't follow the books perfectly. It's a totally different series in effect, but I think that the change of director has been very important in moving the series along as a septology.
Ben: Eric Scull, what are your thoughts?
Eric: Once again anything I've wanted to say has pretty much been said very fantastically by Jamie. He's gone in there and done it for me. I am really getting tired of people...I am glad you chose not to use the word childish because I, for one, I do like the first few movies. And I do love...I don't think they're childish at all either. Yeah, in comparison with the third movie, they're not as adult, but when the movies came out we were just as shocked, just as in suspense. The whole scene in the forest in Chamber of Secrets was perfect for that line, "Why it couldn't it be follow the butterflies?" It was great. It was dark. It was intense. It was very nice, and it was great. And then Alfonso came out with Prisoner of Azkaban, which was fine in itself, and as Jamie said is a completely new, different series. So, it was a much different movie than what we might have expected, but it gave a darker tone to the movies, which we did need. I still like the original movies, and once again, I think Goblet of Fire will probably be the best movie so far.
Ben: I agree with you.
Jamie: I think the dark direction that has started in Prisoner of Azkaban and has sort of flowed down to Goblet of Fire, that is going to have to continue throughout all the books now. Whereas Chris Columbus could sort of start the films and then try and have them continue how he wants them, now it has reached a point in the series where everything has got to be dark.
Ben: I think we can all agree that each director has pretty much brought their own personality and their own point of view to each movie. I think that each movie has turned out pretty well, and the movies as Jamie said, they're going to continue to progress and get darker and darker perhaps until the final duel between Lord Voldemort and Harry in the last movie. But we have plenty of other topics to get to today. Users, many fans have sent in some topics for discussion. First thing I would like to discuss is that turning Books 5 and 6 into films is going to be quite difficult. Especially in Book 6- we've seen a lot of Harry going back in time and Harry going forward in time, and just the whole concept of time has been very difficult. Jamie, what do you think?
Jamie: I've always felt that Books 5 and 6 had a more personal feel to them. I don't know if everyone else has thought this or it's just me. Harry's situation has become where you have to experience what he's experiencing to be in the situation that he's been in. You have to...he's got all this anger towards Voldemort and now Snape of course. It's going to be very hard to portray those emotions, and his character as a whole in the next film. I'm sure Dan's up to the task, but it's going to be very hard.
Ben: Eric, I know you've done a lot of plays and things of that sort. You're into video editing and things like that. So how do you think they'll be able to turn these 800 page novels into a two and half hour movie?
Eric: [Laughs] Of course there's many things to address when getting into that. I'd like to talk about all of them briefly here. One of the things is...does it have to be a two-and-a-half hour movie? How long was the Prisoner of Azkaban movie? It was quite short, wasn't it?
Ben: It was two-and-a-half or so.
Eric: You sure?
Eric: Okay. Well, Lord of the Rings even was more than three hours I think, and the extended edition was quite a lot more. I don't exactly understand Warner Bros.' hesitation. They say why they won't make it any longer of a movie, but at the same time I think people would still go see it no matter how long it was. I think we're at a point...I suppose they could have pulled off Goblet of Fire quite well from what we're getting with fan reviews, and things they scrunched up quite nicely, but as the books progress...
Ben: What I think the issue is, is that with Book 5 they could make it a four-hour movie, but the problems comes in...we have to look at the target audience that Warner Bros. is trying to target. Which are the younger kids. The kids that like to read the books, and things like that. So, they're going to have a difficult time making a four-hour movie, and have parents bring their little kids to come sit through four hours. Personally, what I think they should do is make a theater version and like with Lord of the Rings make an extended edition for the diehard Harry Potter fans to watch. Andrew, what do you think?
Eric: I agree.
Andrew: Do you mean then release both of them in theaters? Or just put out the shorter one in theaters and make the longer one on DVD?
Ben: The longer one on DVD. After it's been released it theaters, put it on DVD.
Andrew: Okay, yeah. I think that would be a good idea. I think the issue here is that it might be a time thing. Warner Bros., I don't think they would realize that say...maybe even four hours is a little extreme. Or even say they made it a three-and-a-half hour movie for Goblet of Fire, not Goblet of Fire, but Order of the Phoenix or Half-Blood Prince. People would sit through it. The fans would. But that's the issue like you said. The little kids and their parents wouldn't want to sit through three-and-a-half hours, especially if the parents aren't all that into Harry Potter.
Ben: It's always going to be a very debatable topic of whether a parent wants to take their kids to sit through a four-and-a-half hour movie. The kid is most likely going to fall asleep or things of that sort. But Eric, what do you think?
Eric: No, I think NO, Ben! I mean yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, but NO! Parents will take their kids to see a four-hour movie...Even if it's not a four-hour movie I think they would, because these are the kinds of parents that spend nights and weeks and months reading to their kids before bedtime. My dentist talks to me about how they're going through a chapter at a time every night with their children. And you know they spend a whole month reading this book to their kids who love it. I think they probably wouldn't mind spending that much time in the theater with their kids, and if their kids fall asleep...
Really with film in theatres, it doesn't matter how long the final film is. There can be intermissions, as many intermissions as you want. End of reel, go out and do your stuff and come back. But yes, I think...I have to be realistic... I think there should be a theater version and a film version, and the film version can be as long as they want, and the theater version would be fine. I think that would be a great idea, and it would suit everybody and it would be very fine. As long as Warner Bros. is up to doing it, I would have no complaints.
Ben: I completely agree with you. Andrew, did you have any final thought to that end before we move on?
Andrew: Yeah, well I think that's the problem. I don't think Warner Bros. wants to make a four or five-hour movie. Think of the budget. They're already spending... The movies that are already out have broken records on how much money has been spent.
Ben: Goblet of Fire is the most expensive movie ever. That's right.
Andrew: Yeah, so does Warner Bros. really want to spend another hundred million dollars just to extend it another two hours? And it wouldn't increase sales or anything, so I think that's the problem.
Ben: We also have a follow-up if any of you have listened to Episode One. We discussed the fourth movie premiering in the Philippines several days before anybody else gets to see it. And we had a visitor from the Philippines who emailed in to clarify this for us. And it's not because they're any more special than we are. It's because movies premiere on Wednesdays in the Philippines. So just to clarify that for anybody that was curious as to why they get the movie before us.
Andrew: And that was from Margarita. She's 19 and from the Philippines. So, thanks to her.
Ben: Now sort of turning the subject away from the movies, turning the books into movies, in the 6th Book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, we saw a death. Dumbledore died and throughout the entire series, like in Order of the Phoenix, we've seen Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes, come to Dumbledore's aid. But towards the end of Half-Blood Prince when Dumbledore perhaps needed Fawkes the most, Fawkes was nowhere to be found. Jamie, what do you think?
Jamie: I think you could take this in two ways. Clearly, it's just a case of Jo just messing with us. It fuels the whole “Did Dumbledore mean to die or did Snape kill him”? If Fawkes knew that Dumbledore was going to die and that they planned it all, then he wouldn't help him. I think Fawkes being as intelligent as he is would be in on the plan, whereas if Snape was going to kill Dumbledore (you know he killed him with the Avada Kedavra curse), and Fawkes knew that he was going to die anyway, so he didn't help him. So, even though it is a really nice topic to talk about, it proves that Dumbledore has died, and that he won't be coming back. Also, you can link this to his portrait appearing in the office. I think it's just one more way of Jo showing us that Dumbledore has died and he won't be coming back.
Ben: Eric Scull, do you have any thoughts, do you think Dumbledore is really gone and why didn't Fawkes come to his aid?
Eric: Well, I think he is gone. And I agree with Jamie. Definitely the portrait, and the white tomb, the entire ceremony really for his funeral was a way for Jo getting across that Dumbledore probably is gone, is at least dead. Will he be coming back? Who knows, that's a whole other thing. Of course, his symbol being the phoenix and the phoenix being reborn and all that stuff, but you can talk to portraits and that kind of thing, so even if Dumbledore is gone, could Harry have perhaps a conversation with his portrait some time in the future? All that kind of thing. She hasn't quite explained portraits. Whether or not they know everything that their live selves did or anything like that? It's a whole window of possibilities. Dumbledore definitely is dead, but is he gone? And that was the same thing with Sirius, and of course now with Sirius, she has kind of made the idea that “Yeah, he's gone for good.” Since he hasn't done anything in Book 6 or was very little mentioned. But another reason I don't think Dumbledore wanted Fawkes to be out there... Fawkes did his duty. Fawkes went out there and cried. Did that song across the grounds for like an hour or hours afterwards. But I think it was for the same reason he froze Harry. He didn't want them to interfere whether or not he knew what was going to happen or he didn't. I don't think he wanted Harry to mess up anything that was going on that night at the North Tower, and he wouldn't want Fawkes to do that either.
Ben: Back in Episode One, we discussed the portraits and if Harry will be able to communicate with Dumbledore's portrait, and Andrew, Kevin, and I basically came to the conclusion that it transferred over Dumbledore's personality, but not actually his knowledge and brain and things. Just like the other portraits. They're characterized as being mean and funny. Andrew, do you have anything to add about that?
Andrew: Well, yeah. I was going to say the portraits never give any specific information. The most you'll hear them say is “be quiet, I'm trying to sleep” or “he went that way” or something like that. They never give any real information or can have talks with people.
Eric: But can they? The Fat Lady may be different.
Ben: They may be able to acquire knowledge gained after they actually became a portrait. Jamie, what do you think?
Jamie: I was going to say that if all Headmasters and Headmistresses of Hogwarts end up on the wall, then surely that's something away from what Dumbledore was planning after his death. Nearly Headless Nick commented that people who want to become ghosts, want to become ghosts, so that's their choice after they die whereas the process of turning into a portrait on the wall could have just been an extra thing that's happened to Dumbledore after his death. So, we could still see him could back in some other form, perhaps as a ghost, perhaps in some other way.
Ben: I agree with you. Eric, did you have something to add before we move on?
Eric: That would be very fine if Dumbledore's portrait has no knowledge or intelligence that he had in his real life. I think that would be fine as well, even fine in itself because Dumbledore's personality makes Dumbledore Dumbledore. If you can feed a portrait information just to help Harry out any way he would need to, whether or not he remembers or is able to activate a Pensieve with more information or more memories. I don't think Harry needs that. Even just the personality of Dumbledore to talk to again would be very interesting.
Ben: I completely agree with you. The debate is going to go on and on whether Dumbledore is dead or not, but personally I think alll of you guys agree with me that Dumbledore is gone and Harry is going to have to cope with his death. For more debate, we mentioned this site before. You can go to www.dumbledoreisnotdead.com and this guy presented a very good defense for Dumbledore actually still being alive, but it sort of doesn't seem very plausible.
Ben: We have plenty of other topics to get to like I said, so I think it's time to move on. Many visitors have sent in a release date for Harry Potter Book 7 being released on July 07, 2007 or 07-07-07 because seven is pretty much been the central magic number throughout the series. Eric, what do you think about this release date?
Eric: Well, 07-07-07 is a Saturday. So that really works out. They could do a Friday night release party on July 6th and it could be released on July 7th, 2007, and it would be a brilliant idea. I guess some people have thought of that. As for if it will actually happen, I don't think anybody knows. I don't even think JKR knows because she said that she's going to begin writing at the end of this year, beginning of next, and generally if it follows the same trend...
Ben: But she said she was shooting for a 2007 release date.
Eric: That could be anytime in 2007. Whether or not it's December or January or July.
Ben: Right. I agree with you.
Eric: I think it would be very cool if it were July 07, 2007.
Ben: But the books sort of follow this pattern of being released during the summer. Since the books have gotten really popular, they've been released in the summer.
Andrew: Harry Potter 4 was released...
Ben: July 08, 2000.
Andrew: Right. Order of the Phoenix was June 21st and then Half-Blood Prince was July 16th. So it makes sense for it to be a summer release date.
Eric: Oh, of course. I was just saying January and December as an exaggeration. If it is going to be anytime during 2007, of course it's going to be the summer, and if it's going to be the summer then sure, why not make it July 7th? I think that would be the perfect date. They could have actually made it July 30th this year, which is both Harry and JKR's birthday. They could have done that. It was just two weeks later. That would have been a more plausible date at the time. I really don't know. I am willing to wait to see. I would like it to be July 7th.
Ben: Jamie, you haven't had your say on this, what do you think about the release date theory?
Jamie: This book for me is very different from every other book. Three, Four, Five and Six, it was more part of a book series than Harry's world for me. Whereas Book 7 - I could wait ten years for this. I wouldn't mind waiting ten, fifteen, or twenty because it closes up an era and I want Jo to take her time and include absolutely everything that I want to know. I don't mind waiting for that, but the release date for 2007 is important just to point out that it is speculation at the moment. A 2007 release date would be very nice.
Ben: Andrew, did you have something else to add?
Andrew: While it would be great if it were released on 07-07-07, I really don't think JKR has that in her mind right now, nor does she really care when it's released, as long as...forget it...[Laughs]
Eric: She shouldn't though. Andrew is perfectly right. I completely agree with him. She doesn't have that in her mind right now, which is what I was trying to say. She simply isn't thinking about it. She said when asked if Book 7 will be longer or as long as Book 5, she simply said, "I reserve to make it as long as I wish."
Ben: As it needs to be.
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