HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


 

                Harry Potter audiences seem to include most of the world.  There are the new readers - young children who each year can suddenly hold and read the book they have heard so much about.  There are the older ones, about Harry’s age, who began at the beginning and wouldn’t miss a word.  There are untold numbers of adults blessed with a fanciful imagination who dive into Harry’s world with abandon, often listening to the books read to them by the incomparable Jim Dale as they drive.

And then there are people like me, who have not read the books – perhaps we are too literal minded for that other world – but love the movies.  We really don’t count in the canon because we have not absorbed the culture.  We know Quidditch and Hogwarts and Muggles, and Wizards, but we fail on the details

“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” is now at hand and for all but the cynical, it is wonderful though dark.    The imagery, for example.  From a calm and empty sea, a majestic wooden sailing ship rises slowly from the depths – a dazzling impossibility that becomes real before our eyes, an image as exciting as the one in our minds.  The fiercest dragon clings desperately to the roof of a castle, losing his grip as the shingles give way under his claws.  From the air, the camera swooshes in on the stadium for the Quidditch World Cup.    In a breathtaking photographic triumph, flags, broomsticks, wizards and witches fill a stadium too grand to grasp. 

Daniel Radcliffe is enormously appealing in his ordinariness.  He can be scared, surprised, reflective, courageous at times, timid at others.  Emma Watson, as befits a girl rushing headlong into womanhood, is protective and grown up.  Rupert Grint is awkward, waiting for adulthood to overwhelm him.  They bring Ms. Rowling’s stories and images to wonderful life under the hand of British director Mike Newell.  The three young actors are passing right through adolescence with Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and as they go, we wonder what they will be like at 15, 16, and 17 in a world already in the author’s head.  Ms. Rowling offers a continuing magical landscape to everyone who wants it.  What more could a young mother scribbling in a coffee shop have hoped to accomplish in one lifetime?

In my own real life, something has taken place that I fear may be a harbinger.  A house has risen nearby my own.  It rose at the hands of speculators on a lot too small to hold it.  It has turrets and cones and bricks and shingles.  It is Hogwarts.  Every time I pass this insult to all those magical people, I shudder.  May everyone who lives there be turned into a weasel, and may Voldemort hover menacingly over the life of the architect who thought he could plant a phantasmagorical castle on a small pond in New Jersey.


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