1756 - Lonely At The Top

This is the roof of a shopping center in Vienna where I spent some minutes on Wednesday, waiting for the latest Harry Potter to begin. In general I am suspicious when it comes to movies after books. Take the “Lord of the Rings” for example. Ralph Bakshi’s animation movie was really good, but of course it covered only about half of the first book. The recent LotR trilogy was a mixed bag. I hated the first part for its completely wrong tempo (you simply can’t get to Weathertop in 20 minutes, that doesn’t feel right), loved part two (time runs fast, but so does it in the book) and part three, well, it felt too much like Hollywood.

“Doctor Zhivago” is fine. By necessity it moves faster than the book, but then, it still gives you much time to feel the story.

“Harry Potter” is different. It’s a cult. You can’t change anything without risking riots. The characters are excellent, the setting is excellent, the mood is excellent, but you can completely forget seeing the movies if you haven’t read the books. I have, but of course some time has passed since, and I have to admit that, although I generally had no problem following the intricacies of the plot, I can sympathize with those who have not read the book at all. They simply don’t have a chance. Think of the Harry Potter movies as an illustration of the books. They do an excellent job showing how things look, but they can’t stand for themselves. They were not meant to.

The Song of the Day is “Lonely At The Top” by Randy Newman. I have both versions, the original from the 1972 album “Sail Away” and that on the 2003 “Songbook, Volume I”. YouTube has a third version, recorded in 1979 with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Enjoy.

There are 1 comments

Juha Haataja   (2011-08-13)

I think I have read four or five of the Potter books - but somehow I always felt there was something missing. Then I had a discussion with some British colleagues, concerning J. K. Rowling and Terry Pratchett; they thought that Pratchett was in another leagua altogether as a writer. I decided to try Pratchett (I gave up him earlier), and despite the somewhat uneven quality, I have felt that something was indeed there, a kind of sympathy which was missing in the Potter books. On the other hand, I don't think there are many writers who can lead a reader in a book as tightly as Rowling can - you get a summary of all the previous happenings in so few pages that it seems like magic, and you don't even realized that Rowling is doing the "fill in the backgroup" part of a sequence of novels. By the way, that is a vey nice square up there.

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