"Harry" tales

Like so many teens, my now 17-year-old daughter, Lizabeth, grew up reading J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books over and over again – cracking each one the night we bought it and finishing the first read-through by daybreak.

I’ve never made time for the series, aside from ten minutes spent hidden in a small upstairs bathroom the night we brought home two copies of the last book in the series – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Even then, I only read the last several pages. But I feel more inspired now having seen the first part of series finale. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” presents an intriguing storyline with interesting characters, which is more than I can say for a lot of the other movies out there these days.

I’m always most fascinated by Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) because I find his motives and intentions so hard to read. Knowing he despised Harry’s father but adored Harry’s mother gives me one piece of the puzzle, but I’m eager to find that final piece. And, truth be told, I find his black garb and brooding brow strangely appealing.

Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), whose “control freak” qualities have long been evident, is especially endearing when trying to lead her male partner on the dance floor – and when she fidgets for all sort of gadgets to save the day deep within the recesses of her bottomless handbag of sorts.

It felt a little like my mind at times, which seemed constantly to be finding snippets of other stories within this boy wizard saga.

First, there’s the larger historical context – both past and present – in a world of competing ideologies and powerful propaganda.

But also, so many other stories I’ve enjoyed during earlier trips to the movie theater.

Watching Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and friends cross over a tall mountain in escape mode conjured images of Maria (Julie Andrews) escaping with her VonTrapp family from Nazi Germany in The Sound of Music.

I invited my husband James to play an impromptu game of “free association” with me when Lizabeth and I returned home from Monday’s press screening.

One by one, I described scenes from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that felt eerily familiar. For every one, he quickly offered names of corresponding movies like E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial and The Wizard of Oz.

This seems to confirm one of Lizabeth’s oft-made observations about my movie-going experiences. Apparently taking in a movie as a simple way to enjoy a bit of good clean fun is never enough for me — or feels too great an indulgence.

There’s always some deeper meaning and a myriad of connections to other things housed in my head or my heart.

Perhaps that’s the real joy of movie-going. It’s at once a chance to delve farther, dig deeper – both within the small realm we call home and the larger world that is home to us all.

As for this one piece of cinematic art, it’s clearly the best so far in the Harry Potter series.

I wouldn’t take the little ones because there’s some pretty frightening visual fare (it’s rated PG-13). But do take the action-adventure lovers in your life – they’ll love the many chase scenes on land and by air.

Between fairy tales and the “Harry tales,” there’s a whole world of storytelling out there that speaks to us on all sorts of levels.

Are you listening?


Note: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows opened today at midnight throughout the Valley so check your local listings for theater locations and times.

Coming up: Preview of upcoming film festivals in Arizona, Musings on our “Les Mis” movie-going experience