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November 26, 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Social Justice

Posted by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

Is it me, or did Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry suddenly become much more multicultural in year four? Perhaps Dumbledore embarked on a goals-and-quotas campaign to find more wizards of color with untapped potential?

Use this as an open thread to discuss new Harry Potter flick, and feel free to suggest how your personal political preferences can be read into various parts of the movie.

November 26, 2005 in Film | Permalink


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I suppose you're thinking of Cho Chang and the two Indian twins. IIRC, the twins were in previous iterations of the books but not in their movie versions. I think Chang first appeared in a trip to the magic city in Azkaban, but wasn't in the movie. There's also a minor black student character in the books who I haven't seen in the movies either. But the movies did have the little fella who was calling the quidditch matches and he was black, wasn't he?

Posted by: bg | Nov 26, 2005 3:58:56 PM

HP has always been multicultural. The books mention the Patel twins, the black kid The one first year who anounced the Quidditch ganes and Angela. who went to the dance with one of the Weasly twins), Cho and all the various other races from book one. This is probably due to JK Rowling havig been a teacher in the British school system and seeing that Britain is indeed a multiculturtal place. But yes, a chinese girl with a scotish accent; it doesnt get any more brit mult cult than that.

Posted by: Keith | Nov 26, 2005 6:10:52 PM

I don't think it seemed any more multicultural, but I read the books so maybe I'm thinking of them.

I thought the movie was good, they did a good adaptation of such a long book (so a lot of things were left out). It was nice to see Hermione featured so prominently in this movie.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope | Nov 26, 2005 7:58:09 PM

Among the movies thus far, I thought one worked the least well.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

Posted by: TJ | Nov 26, 2005 9:13:11 PM

Here's my major problem with the movies. We all know from the books that Severus Snape is a crucial, crucial character; yet thus far, Snape has had less than 10 minutes of screen time in all four movies combined! His character is totally undeveloped, and the wonderful texture you get from the books is completely missing.

That said, it was nice to see the Weasley Twins finally get their chance in the movies...

Posted by: Mastiff | Nov 26, 2005 9:51:46 PM

i think this movie is about par for the course wrt HP movies. the CGI blew me away, but the storytelling kinda fell off the wagon every now and then... and i second mastiff's snape boosterism.

Posted by: almostinfamous | Nov 26, 2005 10:47:15 PM

So, in addition to Cho and the indian twins, what really caught my eye was a percevied increase in ethnic extras at Hogwarts. It seemed to be to be a whiter campus in the firs three movies.

This was my favorite of the four, incidentally.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Nov 26, 2005 11:11:09 PM

I didn't think that the pacing worked in this one. I completely understand why they cut as much as they did, but most of the time it seemed as though they picked a scene from a chapter, then skipped up to the next chapter and and picked another scene, and so on, leading to a string of scenes, each of which is paced differently from the ones before and after it and with no good transitions between.

The exception to this was the "getting a date for the dance" sequence which mixed elements of many different scenes in the chapter along with some new material into three scenes on screen, and it worked wonderfully. I think that if the screenplay had been a freer interpretation of the book, it would have worked out better.

That being said, while I still prefer Prisoner, this one was better than either of the Chris Columbus ones, and it was at least good enough for me to be willing to see it a second time.

Posted by: pansauce | Nov 27, 2005 4:40:05 AM

It's not hard to be better than Chris Columbus' work on the first two movies. Calling Columbus a hack is a deadly insult to a small army of NYTimes writers. Goddess, the first two were awful beyond the dreams of Ed Wood. The third one, though lacking most of the features that I find charming about the books, was like a breath of sweetly scented fresh air... on Mars. Not just pleasant, but downright life-saving.

And, yes, Snape is getting screwed and the movie series, taken as a series, is going to suffer horribly for it. Thankfully(?), the movies will never have to stand on their own (and likely won't ever have to stand at all), though that, in turn, points to a dreadful creative vacuum at their core. Even more than most book-into-movie projects, the HP movies are a dreadful insult to the entire idea of creative filmmaking over soulless money-making movies. *spit*

Also, Minerva McGonagall should sue for defamation over her parts in all the movies. She's been reduced to frowning severely. Angelica Houston's role in 'The Witches' would have been the appropriate touchstone for the casting (sincere apologies to Dame Maggie Smith, whom I do not hold responsible for the failures of the casting director).

Posted by: NBarnes | Nov 27, 2005 6:04:40 AM

I loved this latest film, even though the pacing was a bit off. But the first movie? Oy. I remember squirming in my seat as Columbus opened the movie with two sedate old people walking and talking and talking and talking in a sedate subdivision, stopping only to perform some very sedate magic on streetlamps. I'd love to see some alternate takes on key scenes in the first two films by some real directors.

Posted by: Mary | Nov 27, 2005 9:56:09 AM

I sort of liked how Cho was Asian-Scottish; that's real-life multi-culti for you.

I hadn't realized how little screen time Rickman has had, and I agree that the series may ultimately be incomprensible to those who haven't read the books. In particular, it would have been nice for the movie to remind us what polyjuice potion is, since it's referred to twice in preparation for its necessity in the Big Reveal. (I knew, but my less-HP-aware brother did not remember from the previous films -- it may not even be in #3, I forget.)

And the whole thing just felt different with Rita Skeeter's role reduced so much -- although, honestly, her existence in the book was so clearly Rowling working out her anger at tabloids that the movie may be the better with less of her.

Posted by: DonBoy | Nov 27, 2005 5:58:07 PM

They left out Winky completely!

Posted by: Night Bird | Nov 27, 2005 8:00:58 PM

I thought this one was the best of the four. Three was the first one to not outrageously suck, but the time travel plot has never been a favorite. David Thewlis was awesome, though.

In four, they seemed to get the spirit of the books for the first time, while it did seem clipped, I thought it played well. It's been quite awhile since I read that book, too, so I didn't recall alot of the smaller details.

I like that there was more humor, because it was always there in the book. Cutting the Dursleys, who've been badly done in the movies, and cutting Rita Skeeter to a minimum were both good moves. The extended dragon sequence was nice to.

My biggest complaints were with Michael Gambon, who just hasn't gotten Dumbledore at all. He seems tentative when Dumbledore would be sure and a little harsher than Dumbledore would be. I wasn't blown away by the late Richard Harris, but he did a better job. I've always wondered if Christopher Lee could play against type and do it well.

Also, having Voldemort not look human is a huge a mistake, whether made by Rowling or the filmmakers, I can't recall. Ralph Fiennes was great, though.

The movies area alive in some of the ways the books are, though, finally

Posted by: witless chum | Nov 28, 2005 11:07:13 AM

Oh, oops. I didn't notice more nonwhite faces. One of my favorite pass times from the first two movies was searching the backgrounds and saying, 'Oh, that kid's probably supposed to be Lee Jordan' etc.

I'm pretty sure I've seen the Patel twins in at least one previous movie.

Posted by: witless chum | Nov 28, 2005 11:09:01 AM

Considering that I felt "Goblet of Fire" was the most unreadable, most needlessly unwieldy, and least memorable, of the books by far (really -- a few months after putting it down I remembered only that Harry had reached new heights in his early teenage assheaded-ness, that some girl Cho had become a vague love-interest, and the rather abrupt death of that...er...teenage fellow whatsisname, and that's it) -- filled with pages and pages of monotonous exposition about the nature of the Wizarding World -- I felt the movie did a pretty decent job of capturing the bare essentials of what passed for the plot in a relatively comprehensive and coherent summary form.

Having said that, I stand ready for summary crucifixion by my betters :)

PS: I agree that Snape (and Rickman) are badly underutilized, but unless the movies care to undertake a greater exploration of the (rather needlessly grammar-school) Griff-Slyth rivalry, he's really just a supporting character until Book 6.

Er, stoning please.

Posted by: KenL | Nov 29, 2005 2:06:12 AM

one night, what effect I grew And grapes, my misguided him. I noticed every neighborhood my days

Posted by: globalgoogle | Feb 22, 2008 5:35:34 PM

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