Reviews of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) and related work

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997Text)

J. K. Rowling (writer).

Read cursively.

Compare it to Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) (for which I have not read Norton’s 1943 original). The magic system is very similar; the main thing you need to work magic is a phrase for each spell. In the Potterverse you also need a wand, whereas in the Bedknobverse you need to believe: The Tinkerbell effect. Thankfully, Rowling replaced most of the other bullshit, including most of the anthropomorphism and the near-Wolfenstein level of violence (the movie has Angela Lansbury flying her broom through a hail of Leuchtspurmunition) with a semblance of fantasy worldbuilding. It’s strangely half-baked: Even in a world where mages are easily proven to be real and have some significant interplay with human society in general, ordinary people are disparaged as “muggles” and care nothing for magic. This is rather like the eyewitnesses in biblical stories who can’t be bothered to incorporate the miracles they see into their worldview, and it happens for the same reason: Narcissism. The kids reading Harry Potter want to believe that ordinary people are soulless fools, and so did the authors of The Bible (ca. 110 CE). I’m surprised that either book was such a hit.

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001Moving picture, 152 minutes)

The book is not much better, but it has less ADHD.

References here: Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017).

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‣‣ Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002Moving picture, 161 minutes)

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‣‣ Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004Moving picture, 142 minutes)

References here: Nerd argues about distinction between fantasy and science fiction.

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‣‣ Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005Moving picture, 157 minutes)

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‣‣ Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007Moving picture, 138 minutes)

By this point I’m struck by the impotence of magic in this setting. It’s still all pyrotechnics. For all the remote sensing, mind reading and literal prophecy available, nobody is availed. The organizations are blind and stupid, their conflicts crude and quaint.

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