bunt sign

Saturday, December 1, 2001

We had our discount matinee tickets in hand before we ever set foot out our front doors today. That's the only way we knew for sure we'd be allowed to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Of the six of us who went, five had read at least the first book in the series, the one on which the movie is based. So expectations were high.

Suzanne picked up the tickets earlier this week. They told her to get to the theater an hour early, and it's a good thing we heeded that advice, because it allowed us to make a fairly sizable detour. We turned onto the Expressway and slammed on the brakes, because the line of cars in front of us was stopped. Not just stopped — they were all over the road, some on the shoulder and some straddling the center line.

No one seemed quite sure what to do, but when we saw the reason for the delay, we decided to turn around and try another route. The road was flooded. It had rained all night and all day, with more on the way, and it was just too much for some of the low-lying areas. My little Honda didn't have much of a chance. I didn't have much hope for the cars that were trying to ford the stream and get through, nor much sympathy for the drivers. It seemed a foolish way to go. It took us only about ten minutes of extra driving to get there from the other direction, and nothing got soaked in the process.

To make things even better, we slid right into a convenient parking space and didn't even have to use Mom's handicap placard. That was a relief to me because (a) I don't like to use it unless we absolutely have to, and (2) I hate to park close in when I'm in a crowded parking lot. I'd rather walk through the rain than find myself in a spot where people are backing into me from all directions. I choose the most distant space whenever possible.

We all liked the movie. Those of us who love the books found that the film enhanced our appreciation of them. That doesn't always happen, and sometimes a film can detract from the satisfaction of reading. This movie did quite the opposite. It translates a book we treasure into an experience that transports us into the world that book created for us.

When you've imagined so many fantastical things and see them come to life right in front of you, just the way you thought they'd look and sound and feel, it validates the closeness you feel to the book. It's not often you can fall in love with a character, and then meet that character in flesh and blood on the big screen with the sensation that this is the person you've known all along.

I'd recommend reading, of course, before seeing the movie, but the nonreader in our group enjoyed the film on its own level as much as the rest of us. That's reassuring, somehow, because movies are after all an art with elements of many arts, yet separate from any other form. They're literary, visual and musical, and if done well they can express an artist's vision in a unique way that blends and transcends the elements.

So a film that's based on a book doesn't have to be "better than the book" to be a great movie. That's good, because most such films aren't better. It must be very difficult to make a movie that doesn't either weaken the book or change it into something different entirely. I don't think Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone does either. I'll read the book again, and I'll see the movie again, and I'll enjoy them both as much the next time.

wind chimes

Looking east out my back door on a windy day.

This was the last bargain matinee show of the day, although we didn't know when we bought the tickets. We would have paid full price without questioning it. The two rows in front of us were taken up by a birthday party for a ten-year-old boy, thirteen children and four brave adults. Before the movie started they were abuzz with activity, passing out popcorn and bottled water and making trips back and forth to the bathroom. As soon as the lights went down they were still and silent, for two and a half hours, as if a spell had been cast on them.

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