The Seekers Guide to Harry Potter
by Jon Bastian
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Dr. Geo Athena Trevarthen, who teaches at the University of Edinburgh, developed and teaches a course on the symbolism in the Harry Potter series of books, and Reality Entertainment has now released a direct-to-DVD version of her lessons. Keep in mind that this documentary is not affiliated in any way with JK Rowling, Warner Bros., the books or movies – but that its creators probably believe a bit more in the literal magic in the Potter series than the average muggle reader or film-goer, and this is its downfall.
There is some interesting information presented here, particularly Trevarthen’s analysis of how Rowling has filled the books with various arcane symbols and archetypal themes, and it is interesting. Unfortunately, what we get is maybe twenty minutes of information rattling around inside an eighty minute box, and the whole production is extremely pretentious and entirely too self-important. This might have been interesting had the producers chosen to just film Trevarthen in the lecture hall – she does have some charisma, and clearly knows her material. Instead, we get a minute or two of Trevarthen, followed by absolutely laughable footage of her twirling a sword around in the highlands, or by some interminable time-lapse footage of the streets of Edinburgh, or some equally meaningless and overwrought visual drivel accompanied by an annoying new-agey soundtrack. It’s a shame, because Rowling wrote the books while living in Edinburgh and, while Trevarthen spends a little bit of time pointing out places that may have inspired locations in the books, it’s not enough.
This is one case where I suspect that the book is better than the movie, and from what I can gather (I haven’t read it) Trevarthen’s book is probably worth a look. This DVD adaptation, however, is not.
Jon Bastian is a native and resident of Los Angeles. Watch for his upcoming play “Strange Fruit”, which he hopes will help him keep his two dogs rolling in kibble…
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