This installment of the Harry Potter series looks great on the screen, features merely OK music (not one of Alexandre Desplat’s more memorable scores) but almost constantly reminds avid opera and theatre goers of other magical tales—many of whom predate J.K. Rowling’s novels by centuries.
Wagner’s Ring Cycle also features a lengthy quest for gleaming metal with mythical properties; Mozart’s The Magic Flute has no less than three blood-thirsty snakes (Wagner opted for a fire-breathing dragon), bettering this production by two; from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Star Wars, “little people” have beguiled audiences as those characters rise above their size as surely as Dobby the House Elf takes one for the team here; being protected from harm by an invisible cloak or truly marvellous disguises can be found in all manner of narratives from the Legend of Sleepy Hollow to Hamlet.
The similarities go on and on.
For devotees of the franchise (book and film) none of this will ever matter. For others, one can only imagine what all of the fuss is about. Taking a step back, and a broader view of all that has come before, Rowling’s seems more a sorcerer’s apprentice than truly creative soul.
No worries. Daniel Radcliffe, like a fine wine, is maturing so well in film and on stage that his portrayal of the wide-eyed wizard makes the time—as well as much of the evil around him—simply vanish. Here’s to the final curtain on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s most famous alumnus. With any luck, he’ll soon be facing Shakespeare’s unholy terrors: imagine Radcliffe as Hamlet at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival! JWR