Harry Potter Goes to the Movies

by Matt Tarrant

The greatest gift of any novel is its ability to capture our imaginations, bringing us into the story in a far more rewarding way than any film can manage. With that in mind, imagine my look of horror when I read that J.K. Rowling had sold the rights to her books to Warner Bros., knowing full well how much Hollywood likes to change a story on the basis of “creative license.”

Months after she had sold the rights, the media speculation about the look and feel of the movie was as varied as the after-show party of an Elton John concert. Lots of colorful ideas and exclusives, but no real word from Warner Bros. or J.K., aside from the one liner: “It will be true to the books.”

That held little water for me as that could have meant that Warner Bros. planned to keep the name Harry, but change the rest of the story. In the UK, the rumor mill was rife with talk of a “Beverly Hills 90210” style film featuring Haley Joel Osment as the title character and Steven Spielberg leading the teen high school story of Harry Potter.

Nooooooooooooooo! Run for the hills! Escape the madness!

Needless to say, my mind only became less restless on the issue after the declaration by Chris Columbus and J.K. Rowling that a nearly all-British cast would be chosen and filming would take place in England, at least physically removed from the interference of Hollywood. And with J.K. also playing a part in the transfer from book to film of her own perceived world, we were at least going to get a film that partially lived up to our own imagination.

I was lucky enough to get to see the film a week before its UK release and my overall impression was good. I thought the visual effects were very good and the transfer of plot line was adequate enough to draw in those that had not read HP, but keep the bulk of Potterites happy.

However, as with all these sorts of movies, part of the imagination is gone and for a lot of fans, when they begin reading the books, the features of the movie will appear in our minds. I think I can live with that. I just hope that as the films go on, the depth and story come through lots better.