Harry Potter and the Cash Cow

The kids and I got to see the latest incarnation of the ubiquitous boy wizard this past weekend courtesy of one of the drug companies that was trying to convince [Mom McMains->] that theirs was the best antibiotic ever. The movie version of Harry Potter was quite ambitious, clocking in at two and a half hours — quite a stretch for the children at whom it’s aimed. Director Chris Columbus did a good job with the film version, remaining very true to the source material, and creating a lovely and believable version of Rowling’s story.

At the risk of sounding like a boring Luddite, the thing that I found most unsatisfying about the film was that the richness of the world was (perhaps unavoidably) sacrificed. Though two and a half hours is a long film, it’s still a dreadfully short time to fully savor the fiction upon which Ms. Rowling has evidently lavished such thought and care. As with Tolkien, her characters inhabit a deeply textured universe. She leaves various mysteries dangling from one book to another to help create a more fully melded tapestry of the whole multiple-book story arc — a luxury we’re not allowed in the film version. But given the constraints the medium inevitably puts upon the story, Potter fans should find this a satisfying addition to the merchandising avalanche.