Why I love Harry Potter

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I was one of those people who thought ‘why on earth are adults reading Harry Potter? It’s for children isn’t it!’.  Then, when The Philosopher’s Stone was released at cinemas in 2001, two of my friends dragged me along…..I got hooked.

Ron, Harry and Hermione (so cute!)

Let’s face it, if Harry Potter wasn’t any good there would not have been so many of Britain’s finest actors clamouring for a part.  Like the Star Wars saga/franchise, you would have to live on another world to have not heard of Harry Potter.

For anybody who knows nothing about Harry Potter (all five of you), Harry is an orphan being brought up by his nasty Aunt and Uncle Dursley who treat him like a slave.  On Harry’s eleventh birthday he discovers his parents were part of a wizard world he was not aware of and he is invited to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.  Harry finds out his parents were murdered by an evil wizard named Voldemort, who tried to kill Harry and failed.  Harry was left with a lightening-shaped scar on his forehead.  The boy who lived.  Voldemort disappeared.  Harry befriends Ron Weasly and Hermione Granger at Hogwarts.  He settles in to the wizarding world, but all is not as it seems, Voldemort has returned……

Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore

In my opinion, the first two films are aimed at a younger audience and don’t fully reflect J.K. Rowling’s books, although they are a good start.  My favourite film is The Prisoner of Azkaban where director, Alfonso Cuaron, took over the reins from Chris Columbus.  Mike Newell directed The Goblet of Fire and subsequently David Yates the final four films.  The film is more muted in colour with greys, blues and greens (the ensuing films retain this winning look).  This reflects the change of direction in story and characters from jolly wizarding japes to serious, people are getting killed, storylines.  I also prefer Michael Gambon’s Dumbledore.  I loved Richard Harris, but Gambon’s Dumbledore is more steely and less twinkly-eyed/cuddly, if that’s the word I am looking for, truer to Rowling’s character.

For children, the appeal of Harry Potter is the magic and fantasy.  For everybody else, the eternal themes of friendship, good against evil, choices, bravery (I adore Neville Longbottom in Deathly Hallows, part 2), right and wrong, along with fun escapism, appeals to their inner child.  It is also the attention to detail and richly drawn characters in Rowling’s world that is wonderful.

In terms of casting, these films could not fared any better.  The actors are all perfect for their characters, Snape, Bellatrix, Lucius Malfoy and Sirius, in particular.  The child/teen cast are likeable and each bring their character to life from the pages of Rowling’s books.  Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint grew up whilst making these films and it is noticeable in their acting, it improves with each film.  Unusually, for child stars, as young adults they all appear to be thoroughly likeable and unspoilt.  Great role models for youngsters.

My (now) 6 year old started watching Harry Potter last Christmas and loved it.  I was apprehensive over him finding it scary, but he was fine.  His friends with older siblings have seen the films too.  I think if you know your child, you will know what is acceptable for them.  We intend to watch the films, one each Sunday afternoon, on the build-up to Christmas.  A new, yearly, film tradition.

I see nothing wrong with being a ‘grown-up’ and watching these films.  The world can be a little dreary sometimes and a bit of Hogwarts magic is just what is needed.  Expecto patronum!

“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Albus Dumbledore

 

 

My Movie Heroines

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There is always talk that there is a lack of role models/heroines/strong women in movies for young girls and women to look up to.  I disagree.  I made this list pretty quickly.  Male heroes are more ‘trumped up’ and we hear more about them, but it doesn’t make the heroines that exist less valid.  My list is compiled of my personal movie heroines, it is not complete and there are more I could add, but my post would be too long if I did.  I have made my list starting from the bottom.  I hope you enjoy reading and let me know in the comments section who your favourite movie heroine is and why!

18.  Roberta Waterbury – The Railway Children

Roberta (third from left) – The Railway Children

Selfless.  Risks her own life to stop a train from crashing.  Thinks quickly and calmly in an emergency.  Smart girl.

17.  Iris Henderson – The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Iris (2nd from left) – The Lady Vanishes

Persistent.  Can’t be fobbed off.  Whilst everybody tries to brush Iris off as a delusional and hysterical girl, she perseveres in finding the missing Miss Froy, with, or without help.  The recent tv version made Iris look like a hysterical girl.  Not impressed.

16.  Lola – Run Lola Run

Lola – Run Lola Run

Calm in a crisis.  Brave.  Quick on her feet.  Funky hair.  Lola is literally running to save her man’s life.  Refreshing for the girl to be the one saving the guy.

15.  Tiffany – Silver Linings Playbook

Tiffany – Silver Linings Playbook

Straight-talking.  Smart.  Funny.  Doesn’t put up with anyone being rude to her.  She knows a wounded soul when she sees one….because she is one too.  She saves Pat from himself and helps him find true love, not the fake love he thought he needed.

14.  Jo March – Little Women

Jo March – Little Women

Clever. Bookish.  Stubborn.  Free-spirited.  Ambitious.  She does not want to be shackled by what is seen as proper and right for a young woman in the time she lives in.  She wants to do her own thing and pursue her dream.

13.  Clarice Starling – The Silence of the Lambs

Clarice Starling – Silence of the Lambs

Intelligent.  Calm.  Doesn’t scare easily.  In a ‘man’s job’.  It wasn’t that long ago when there weren’t many women in the FBI.  Dealt with Hannibal Lector when others couldn’t.

12.  Mattie Ross – True Grit

Mattie Ross – True Grit

Brave young girl.  Living in an unforgiving time, which was not kind to children or women.  Seeks justice for her family and will not give up until she gets it.

11.  Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games

Katniss Everdeen – The Hunger Games

Protective.  Kind.  Athletic.  Smart.  Takes her little sister’s place in the games to protect her.  Very handy with a bow and arrow.

10.  Sarah Connor – Terminator 2

Sarah Connor – Terminator 2

Athletic.  Tough.  Calm.  Trains until she could join the marines because she’s so tough.  All to protect her son and try and save mankind in the future.

9.  Black Widow – Avengers Assemble

Black Widow – Avengers

Kick-Ass.  Unflappable.  Daredevil.  Can hold her own in the Avengers/SHIELD environment.  Not impressed by all the testosterone flying around.

8.  The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo – Kill Bill

The Bride – Kill Bill

Strong.  Kick-Ass.  Intelligent.  Persistent.  She will not stop until she has taken vengeance against Bill and his assassins who murdered her unborn child and left her for dead, on her wedding day.  Besides, she makes a yellow tracksuit look cool.

7.  Hit Girl – Kick Ass

Hit Girl – Kick Ass

Small.  Mouthy (erm, one word springs to mind). Kick-Ass. Brave.  Vigilante.  Hit Girl proves that size certainly does not matter and holds her own against so called tough guys/villains.

6.  Ellen Ripley – Aliens

Ellen Ripley – Aliens

Protective.  Maternal.  Brave.  Strong.  Intelligent.  I mean, come on, have you seen the films?  Look what Ripley was up against. One cool lady.

5.  Mystique – X-Men series

Mystique – X-Men

Blue.  Kick-Ass.  Strong.  Loyal.  Knows what she wants.  No pushover.  I love that Mystique (after First Class) is comfortable in her own skin.  She doesn’t see why she should have to conform to a certain look and feels she should be accepted for who she is.  I love that.  Very relevant to young girls who think there is only one acceptable body shape, thanks to the media.

4.  Eowyn – Lord of the Rings

Eowyn – Lord of the Rings

Still waters……  Does not sit on the sidelines.  Brave.  Eowyn is a brilliant swordswoman.  She wants the chance to fight for her land and people, just as the men do.  Disguises as a man and manages to enter the battlefield.  Kills the Witch-King.

The Witch-King: “No man may kill me!”

Eowyn: “I am no man!”

3.  Violette Szabo – Carve her name with Pride

Violet Szabo – Carve Her Name with Pride

Intelligent.  Brave.  Calm.  Fluent in French.  Worked as a special ops agent for the British during the second world war. During her second mission, she got captured, was tortured and interrogated before being executed.  Amazing lady and this was a true story.

2.  Hermione Granger – Harry Potter series

Hermione Granger – Harry Potter

Studious.  Bookish.  Intelligent.  Extremely Polite.  Caring.  Amazing witch.  Most loyal friend ever.  For young girls, Hermione is a brilliant character to look up to.  She knows her education and studying are important, she does what is right and she stands by her friends.

“Me!” said Hermione. “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things — friendship and bravery and — oh Harry — be careful!”

1.  Princess Leia – Star Wars saga

Princess Leia – Star Wars

Regal.  Witty.  Clever.  Handy with a blaster and speeder bike. Calm.  Han Solo-snaring.  There weren’t many heroines in films when I was little that would have made this list.  There were too many princesses of the Disney type, or screaming bimbos.  Princess Leia is the first one that made an impression on me.  I like the way she spoke and handled herself.

Leia:  “Somebody has to save our skins……into the garbage chute fly-boy!”

 

Images: IMDb