Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Difficult Times

Everyone told me that once I had a kid I could say good-bye to seeing movies in the theater. They obviously didn't understand my passion. I don't mind going to movies by myself or seeing them at weird times, so I manage to see as many movies now as I did before David was born.

What's changed though is that Diane and I don't get to go together very much anymore. Not a huge problem because we have many other ways of making sure we stay connected, but it does mean that I occasionally have to put off seeing a movie that will be more enjoyable if we see it together. The Harry Potter movies are like that.

I haven't read the books, but Diane has, so it's always nice to debrief with her after the movie and get filled in on details that the movie didn't cover. But, like I said, getting there together can be a challenge, and we just got around to seeing Goblet of Fire last night.

Another thing "everyone" told me was how the Potter stories darken and mature as the main characters age and grow more complex. I've never heard anyone explain just how that happens, but I imagined it had something to do with Valdemort's becoming more of a threat and the kids' having to deal with puberty. I was right on both counts, but if Goblet is a good indication, it's more of the latter. As the kids get older, their relationships are becoming more complex.

I remember when I was Harry, Ron, and Hermione's age. I went to a week-long summer camp every year and on the last night the entire camp went on a traditional Midnight Hike through the woods. Whether the staff intended it or not, the entire social scene at camp revolved around getting a date for that hike, so I know firsthand the pressures and fears around the Hogwarts kids' trying to hook up with the right person for the big, fancy ball. I imagine that most people do.

Unfortunately, I also imagine that most people are like me and can relate to a friendship's going inexplicably sour for no good reason. When I was ten, my two best friends suddenly decided that they didn't like me. I never did figure out why. Teens can be unbelievably cruel to each other without understanding why they're doing it. Ron isn't unique in that regard. Couple that fact with the sudden interest in the opposite sex and the quote on the Goblet of Fire teaser poster applies to far more than just Harry's climactic battle with his archnemesis; far more than just Harry in particular. "Difficult Times Lie Ahead" applies to anyone entering their teen years and the fact that the movies (and, I assume, Rowling before them) tap into that makes for some dark, unsettling stuff indeed. There's possibly nothing darker or more frightening than high school. I'm impressed that the Harry Potter stories are dealing with it.

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