I am yet to see a movie that lived up to the hype of a book. Let me rephrase that, most movies based on books I have seen so far has disappointed me to a certain extend, except ‘Jurassic Park’. Even though the book was much better, the movie was good enough to keep you glued to the seat, with no threads hanging lose. When I think about it, almost all novels of Michael Crichton made into a movie has been able to live up to the hype. Now whether I should thank the screenwriter or the director for that I am not sure. Maybe the credit would go to the director, the screenwriter as well as the author. Since the author was the original creator, he would be the person most suited to find the loopholes in a re-written work. A screenwriter whose ego is not big enough to accommodate the corrections made by the author is definitely required for the success of such a movie, and a director who can coordinate both of them and get the best out of them is irreplaceable.
However, I have been completely disappointed, nay; disgusted at Harry Potters’ transformation to the silver screen. Granted, Michael Crichton did not have the circulation figures of J.K. Rowling, neither was the expectation so high. Where Crichton had created a fiction based on facts and could not have created something unknown, Rowling had her story completely based on fairy tales and myths. She had created a world that no one had ever seen before, nor will ever see. Can I blame anyone if my imagination is richer than what movies can provide?
Do I hear anyone say that Harry Potter movies rushes through the book, that it feels like you are reading one paragraph from each page? Of course, it does, and so does the other movies converted from a book. The difference between the two genres (fairy tale and science fiction) is that, with science fiction, all of us have a head start. We know what a dinosaur looks like, how the scientific advancement would be able to re-create life from a drop of blood. As I said, it has its basis on facts. With fairy tales, you are free to create your own world, and when a director makes a fairytale movie, you will find that he imagined it differently.
There are others, who would enjoy the movie. All I can tell them is, ‘give wings to your imagination’. The author has created a magical world for you. Do you really want to see it through another person’s perspective?
The Harry Potter movies are nothing but a show of strength for special effects. However, I would not go so far as to say that such movies should not be created. There are countless youngsters, who eagerly wait for the next Harry Potter movie, ready to quote the lines, while living with their favorite characters. There was a time when studios were willing to create marathon movies lasting 6 to 8 hours. Is there no studio brave enough to recreate that magic?
Every millennium had its share of classics. Bible, Shakespeare’s collection, Aesop’s Fables, Iliad, Odyssey, Mahabharata, Ramayana and countless spin offs based on those and Harry Potter series is one of those books that can be compared to them, not due to the story, but by the influence, it has on people. Would it be wrong to say we are looking at the first classic of this new millennium? Maybe we should we give that title to James Bond?
I do not think Star Wars or James Bond would figure as a major classic of our times. They have the potential, but monitory interest has made James Bond a commercial venture. Further, it is not a love story, nor a war against a noble cause. I am afraid that it might be seen as a vain man’s pursuit of adventure bordering on absurdity. The Star Wars while processing the ingredients for a classic was destroyed by imaginative writers who had little or no idea of science, and a weird sense of humor. Star Trek, Doctor Who and their likes while based on believable (hopefully) science does lack the element of love and would lose a fair amount of readers by the end of this century due to advancements in science. Odyssey series has its own share of science and love, but the emotional element does not appear to be strong enough to transcend decades, much less a century. Matrix, despite having a very loyal following and despite dealing with a very real possibility, though it cannot be proved, contains two fundamental flaws. It is a movie and not a book, and it left most people confused. An attempt to make a novel out of it might convert it from a classic science fiction to a classic. An epic? With the right author, it just might.
While watching Star Wars and X-Men, I couldn’t help wonder whether Rowling had ‘borrowed’ the father figure ‘Dumbledore’ the neglected ‘Harry Potter’ and maybe a lot others from various sources. I am not saying plagiarism, because it is not. It may be that Rowling saw the potential of such characters and created her own based on those. I can’t help feeling a bit sorry for those others who failed to see the potential. But it does make you wonder. We know from the Ian Fleming that he borrowed his character from a real person, it has been said Christianity has borrowed a lot from other older religions. How wonderful would it have been if we could read those novels that the authors ‘borrowed’ from to write those timeless classics. Epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana were passed from mouth to ear for unknown ages that it is quite possible that the original stories were mixed up with those epics or is lost forever.
Would our future generation, a few centuries from now, say that our generation was not able to comprehend the magnitude that the “Boy who lived” would have on them? On the other hand, would they say that our attempt to make a movie of it was the best our generation was capable of doing with our technology.
Calling Harry Potter an epic might be an exaggeration, since epics belongs to a long lost era of which we know hardly anything. Almost everything that happens today are recorded for future generations that the unknown element from past era is no longer available for us.