Friday, December 02, 2005
Le Coupe de Feu...Perils lay ahead of you, Harry Potter
As the huge stadium comes into focus, and the magical creatures, witches and wizards cheer the seekers, beaters, and players of the teams of Ireland and Bulgaria, we dive headlong into The Goblet of Fire.
The next instant, however, you almost feel sorry for having pardoned the director for taking liberty with the book's actual beginning and bringing Harry directly into the Weasley's house and completely missing out on the excitement of the World Cup (they didn't even seem to know where they were being led to). This happens because even before you come close to realizing and appreciating the grandeur of the Quidditch World Cup and the stature of the competing teams, you are led as far away from the entire thing as anybody could have thought possible.
The match is over in a jiffy and before you can say Snitch, the dark mark appears in the sky but even before you get to say Death-Eaters, the scene changes to one inside Hogwarts with Dumbledore welcoming the teams from two other schools of magic to participate in the Tri-Wizard tournament. If not anything else, the tournament lives up to its promise, but for the rather step-motherly treatment of the character of Victor Krum who deserved much more in terms of covergae (negative or positive) if one goes by the book.
Going by the book, however applicable the quote might have been in this case, was not easy at all for Mike Newell. Not only is this edition of the Potter saga the longest ever to have been filmed, it was also fraught with many firsts. This book, in a way, has been the turning point of the entire Harry Potter story. This is where the friends, Ron, Harry, and Hermione enter into their adolescence. This is where they have their first crushes and ball. This is also where the Quidditch World Cup and the Tri-Wizard Tournament happen. Most importantly, this is where the story becomes dark with the rise of Voldemort, leading up to the next book, probably the darkest in the series so far (even more than "Half Blood Prince", the latest, in my humble opinion).
For Potter fans, the story has its own relevance and more than anything, they would love to see justice being done to the entirety of the story. For such viewers, the movie's screenplay and rather awkward editing would have been a let-down. However, unlike other movies-taken-from-books, this one has a screenplay that scores in the sense that it does not leave behind those viewers who have never even read the Harry Potter books. This, probably, is the biggest strength of this edition, scoring even higher than the previous Harry Potter movies, which, though successful in depicting the story correctly, did not put proper emphasis on understanding and bringing out the finer points.
The director here, however, succeeds in doing just that. The kind of treatment given to the character formation is just adequate. All that he missed out on (probably intentionally) was to reflect the dark mood of the climax. The rise of Voldemort was treated very properly by Rowling and it actually built a lot of anticipation about the next edition (which lived up to it, by the way) and this anticipation was as full of foreboding of something dark and evil as it was exciting about the kiddy saga itself.
In terms of acting, the actors seem to have fitted into their characters almost perfectly. It is impossible to imagine Danielle Radcliffe doing anything else and even Emma Watson seems in it for long. With new characters and actors portraying the competitors of Tri-Wizard Tournament, the beautiful and bewitching French witch Fleur and the sturdy stud Bulgarian, Victor, not to mention Mad eye Moody and of course, Voldemort, the scope has been widened for the movie industry to treat the rest of Potter movies with more respect and probably more high-flying a cast than the ones so far have been.
The fantasy of Harry Potter, despite what the latest movie is or is not able to achieve, shall live on because of the books and the legend that Potter has become (right from the merchandise to the rumour-mills to the web sites). The Goblet of Fire, however, is Newell's attempt to pay a tribute to the legend and contribute to its making, at the same time. It may not be time yet to say whether he succeeded in it or not, but one thing is for sure...you better have your seatbelt on and mouth gagged if you are a fan like me and are on the verge of seeing, after having visulaized the scene umpteen times, Harry defeat the dragon or plunge into the sea or fall from his broom, and you can say that again and again...and again.