Friday, July 09, 2004

Smart girls and faculty werewolves: HP3

[Spoiler warning for those of you who haven't seen the 3rd Harry Potter.] I'm with Cleis on how good Prisoner of Azkaban was. While I thought the first half of the movie dragged a little bit (the whole Dursleys-being-mean intro has become tiresome, ditto the constant minor provocations from Draco Malfoy) the time travel sequence at the end was delightful.

Hermione is probably my favorite mass-media female character since Willow Rosenberg from Buffy. Part of what makes her so sympathetic is her inability to restrain her amazing intelligence when it'll unfairly get her into trouble. I'm thinking in particular of the scene where she answers Snape's question correctly (but out of turn)* and Snape docks Gryffindor points for it. So when I see her winning with all the smart plays in the last part of the movie, running the whole time travel plan, distracting the werewolf, and busting Sirius out of jail, I'm completely digging it.

I wasn't too dissatisfied with how they portrayed Remus Lupin, my other favorite character from the books. I try to teach my sections the same way Lupin teaches Defense Against the Dark Arts -- plenty of student involvement, reverence for the importance of the material, and a hope that students will be able to use the lessons of the class to overcome evil magic (bad arguments) when they leave school. I have to say that the scene in the Shrieking Shack was disappointing. In the books, Lupin gives the kids back their wands and makes them full partners in discovering the truth about Pettigrew's treachery. (I read it and thought, "Now this is what a good section looks like!") The movie indulges in an unneccessary 'gotcha' moment where you think Lupin is helping Sirius Black do evil, and then the grownups pretty much solve the mystery themselves. But the movie did mostly portray Lupin in a way I could be happy with -- concerned with teaching well, available after class, and taking an active interest in his students' development (see his teaching Harry the Petronus Charm).

On a sidenote, it's amusing how the movie tacitly encouraged fanfiction writers' hopes that Remus is gay. I'm not just thinking of the passionate hug for Sirius. I'm also thinking of his final scene, where the talks about how the parents would all be writing angry letters if they found out that someone like him was teaching their kids, and his resigned talk about how he faces the same kind of prejudice everywhere he goes. He's talking about how he's a werewolf, of course, but the gay subtext is there. I'm always happy to see the slash writers get a present.

*This might be, in part, an idiosyncratic preference. My first girlfriend was always earnestly overanswering the professor's questions in lecture. The fact that it annoyed everyone else only made me feel closer to her. Then when I met her and she spent an hour laying out Elrond's family tree, I fell in love.


Big Gray said...

I've only read a couple of the Harry Potter books, but I really like the movies, especially the new one. My wife actually liked the first one a lot because of all the "wizarding" going on, as she called it. I think if it was up to her the Harry Potter movies would be like Hogwarts 90210 or maybe Degrassi Junior High, with them going to class, getting into petty spats, and just being magical teenagers. Now that I think about that, I don't think it sounds all that bad.

Hermione is great.

Neil Sinhababu said...

If "Hogwarts 90210" sounds good to you, you might like the first 3 seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While Buffy and her pals save the world a lot with magic and supernatural powers, the show's real focus is on adolescence and stuff that goes on in high school. Willow Rosenberg also instantiates the same natural kind as Hermione Granger, so fans of smart girls will find satisfaction.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a chat that talked about the possibility of Hermione being a possible werewolf...but I couldn't find one so I thought since this was the closest I found, I thought I'd ask you. In HP3, Snipe is filling in for Lupis when he asks for the definition of a werewolf blah blah blah... Hermione states that werewolfs only respond to calls from their own kind... When Harry and Hermione are in the forest watching Lupin in his wolf form about to attack Harry, Hermione calls and Lupin responds...

I've only read the first HP book and I've seen all of the movies so far but there doesn't seem to be any connection. Is it just a coincidence he responds to her call or is Rowling trying to imply something? Let me know what you think... Am I totally off base here?