“Reading, Writing, Rowling” Episode 12: “Galaxies Not So Far Away: Harry Potter and Star Wars”
Fan Worlds Are Colliding!
Star Wars fan and Harry Potter scholar Emily Strand (Instructor in Comparative Religions at Mount Carmel College of Nursing) joins Katy and John to talk about the connections between these two popular series.
The influence flows both ways, Professor Strand explains, with Harry Potter reflecting aspects of the original Star Wars series but also now inspiring some of the developments in the latest Star Wars movies. We talk about the shared features (Is that wizard chess in the new Star Wars movie? Are light sabers sentient like wands?), characters (orphans with hidden powers), dark forces in each that serve as metaphors for authoritarian political development, and even some of the same people bringing both these series to life on the big screen. Consider with us the common wellsprings for both the stories and how they’re told — from Joseph Campbell and the “hero’s journey”, to alchemy and ring composition.
Parallels between the two series in terms of settings (isolation and exile), themes, and characters are also intriguing. We expound on “Kylo-Snape,” “Kylo-Draco,” or even “Kylo-Albus Potter”—and wonder if this suggests a redemption arc for Kylo Ren. Rey’s relationship with Luke reminds us of Harry’s with Dumbledore; both young people are challenged to have faith in their mentors despite their evident flaws. How do the characters relate to the histories in their backstories and how does this help them move forward? We also ponder the use of enchanted mirrors to reveal history and identity (or not).
We talk about movie-making itself and its narrative demands—and its effects on the Harry Potter fan experience in particular. The Star Wars movies notably have played a role in creating the filmic formula so in demand by Hollywood today: How is that affecting the Fantastic Beasts series? John and Emily debate whether the Harry Potter films are “a disaster” because of their impact on the reading of Harry Potter.
What do you think?
Stay tuned to the end for a special treat for our listeners to celebrate one year of the podcast!