Posted in Movie, Music, Prose

I Am Going On An Adaptation Adventure

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I have been comparing and contrasting the book and movies of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit a lot lately. I have watched the movies before I read the novel, believing that reading the book first would ruin the movies for me. And boy, I was right. Don’t get me wrong, the movies were really entertaining and I really enjoyed them. However, the mood of the movies is really different than the book. I believe that one song from “An Unexpected Journey” sums up the whole adaptation process of the book.

When I mentioned a song from the first movie, probably “The Misty Mountains Cold” came to your mind. It was pretty iconic as it is the main theme of the first film, having appeared in the trailer. In the books, it is one of the various songs dwarves sing-however it is the crown jewel. In the book, the song is 10 stanzas long and written in iambic tetrameter. So we can say that it is very conventional, both content and form-wise. This song invokes an image of the Misty Mountains; it describes the lives of dwarves back in the day and the general topography of the forest area. Although it is not that old, as in the last line of the last stanza goes “to win our harps and gold from him.” This him here is clearly Smaug. And for those who know nothing about what had taken place, like Bilbo himself, it is a very nice way to tell the reader. As up until that point in the novel, they have been really odd and secretive (arriving one by one, unannounced) and Bilbo feels confused and irritated. [Well to be fair, dwarves had eaten everything he has and has not offered, I’d be pretty furious too.]But when they start singing, “something Tookish woke up inside him” and that’s how Bilbo decides to join their journey. Normally hobbits are not very adventurous rather creatures of routine, but they invoke an image of the mountains in Bilbo and move his kind little heart, he cannot resist. The thing here is that the song is accompanied by instruments the dwarves carry: Fili and Kili on fiddles; Dori, Nori and Ori on flutes; Bombur on drum; Bifur and Bofur on clarinets; Dwalin and Balin on viols, and finally Thorin with his golden harp. So this creates a “sweet” sound, according to Bilbo at least. What I imagined here was a very uplifting, upbeat, heroic song. Just like how it is in “The Company Theme.” That adds to the hope and confidence the dwarves feel and foreshadows their heroism along the way and in the Battle of Five Armies.

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Look at these bad boys. It is from my copy, illustrated by Jemima Catlin.

The first movie is all about establishing the importance of the Misty Mountains and how dwarves were displaced. The main focus is obviously on the gold-dwarves are all about the money. So rather than showing how greedy the dwarves really are, the movies dramatise their past. Whereas in the book, they get to trust and like Bilbo throughout the journey, but still they are whiny, greedy and generally ill-mannered. So this shift from their greed to their suffering shows itself in the lyrics of the song. The song is two stanzas long, and apart from a small change is taken directly from the book, but given the title “Misty Mountains,” which the book version lacked.

Far over the Misty Mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To find our long forgotten gold

 

The pines were roaring on the hight

The winds were moaning in the night

There the fire was red it flaming spread

The trees like torches blazed with light

The only different thing here is “to find our long forgotten gold.” In the book, that first stanza is repeated with a variation in the last line. The two variations are: “to seek the pale enchanted gold” and “to claim our long forgotten gold.” Enchanted and claim are keys words here. They point to the fascination of dwarves with gold and their greediness. The real reason behind why Thorin Oakenshield wants his home back is not because he is homesick, but because of all the gold on which Smaug sleeps. Also pale and enchanted remind me of the Arkenstone.

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The Arkenstone from the movie. 

“Claim”ing also refer to his greed as well; just before the Battle of Five Armies, Bard and Co try to negotiate with Thorin, claiming a part of the treasure for themselves. Yet again Thorin rejects, and rather than sharing it he’d remain stuck in the mountain. But in the movie version the verb find lightens this. Finding implies a search, yes, but it also means that they don’t know where it is or that they are not truly after it. The song is not accompanied by instruments, Richard Armitage sings it solo. The scene is pretty dark, the dark has fallen and they all sit around the fireplace. With a elegy like tone and baritone of Armitage added to the cozy darkness, the song metamorphoses into a song of longing and suffering.

 

Whilst the book has a lighter tone in general and things happen rapidly one after the other, I felt more peaceful reading it. Narrator’s language is witty and funny, and although it is action pack we don’t get to see the gruesome parts. So I’d say it can pass as a children’s book. However, the movies have more fighting and action scenes, additional characters and events. It was more of a trendy Avengers-esque movie. I think I will speak for all of us who I say that introducing a love between a dwarf and an elf was such a cheesy, Hollywood-like move. They didn’t have to have three movies for god’s sake. When I first read The Hobbit  I was surprised at the flow of events, very rapid with no unnecessary characters. Yes the movies were darker and turned the tone a tad more serious. They were nice to watch at the movie theatre with 3D, but if you haven’t read the book be sure to do so. It is much more enjoyable than the money grubbing, dwarfish excuse of a prequel. If you’d ask me, I would have to say that the movie adaptation is an unsuccessful one. I would like to quote Linda Hutcheon on this:

Perhaps one way to think about unsuccessful adaptations is not in terms of infidelity to a prior text, but in terms of a lack of the creativity and skill to make the text one’s own and thus autonomous.

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Posted in Prose

Myth Busting: Harry Potter Edition

Since Harry Potter canon officially ended this past week, I have decided that it is time for me to delve into some fan theories. I’ve read a lot of crazy things and would like to share some of them with you. In this post we’re gonna bust some supposedly well thought theory, so get ready people!

Harry Hallucinated the Whole Thing

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From Jim Kay’s illustrated version of the Philosopher’s Stone

This must be the most popular one out there. The theory here is that a starving Harry, locked under the cupboard at Privet Drive, creates an alternate world to where he can escape. So all that seven books are actually 11 year old Harry’s imagination. This is a bit too Lost for the series, and a tad too advanced for the little Harry. In the movie adaptations they added a spider, Alastair. It was someone to talk to for Harry and his only friend at the Dursleys which added to the depressive and gloomy atmosphere of the house. Steve Kloves, the screenwriter who adopted the novels, stated that “There was a spider in there and all these broken soldiers that he had filched from the rubbish bin of Dudley’s [bedroom]. And he had this broken army and he would talk to Alastair. And so when Hagrid arrived in the motorcycle you wondered if maybe Harry was mad, and was imagining being rescued.” And I get it, for those who only watch the movies this makes the theory seem plausible. I had also entertained the idea from time to time before the last book came out. But having Harry waking up in his cupboard after seven books would be irritating for the readers and a lazy thing to do on Rowling’s part. Just because of that, I don’t think that the theory would work. Apart from that, it is one thing to imagine being rescued, but entirely other thing to create such a detailed, refined world and course of events. It would be too much for an abused child. Not only the events are pretty intertwined, but he needs to know at least Latin to create spells and charms; they are not made-up words. Rowling could have woken Harry up after the confrontation in the forest with Voldemort in the last book, and that would have worked. After all it would be happening inside Harry’s head but why on earth should that mean that it’s not real, amiright? But with the way the books ended in the epilogue and with all the details, I think it is safe to say that it is nearly impossible for Harry to hallucinate the whole thing. I think this theory is busted.

The Dursleys Are Horrible Because Harry Is A Horcrux

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From the Chamber of Secrets, right before they send Harry off to his bedroom to pretend not to exist

This is another popular fan theory that had surfaced after Deathly Hallows. This theory suggests that the Dursleys were horrible to Harry because the horcrux, that Harry is, was affecting them. In the last book, we witness the trio struggling with the emotions the horcrux awakens. The horcrux enhances the already existing emotions rather than creating new ones. Hence, Ron’s insecurity goes through the roof. Accordingly, the Dursleys already dislike the Potters (you can read their first meeting on Pottermore). So the horcrux could have increased it extremely and this should be the case for anyone who does not like Harry, like Malfoy or Snape-granted they do not spend that much time with him. However, we see the horcrux affecting the trio when they have a physical contact to it. If living around a horcrux would turn them into horrible beings, then the Blacks and Malfoys should have changed as well. Yes, they do bad things to people, and the Black matriarch is pretty horrible on her own, they are okay generally. Dursyleys can also act very “normal” around other people as well as Ginny who was pouring her soul into a horcrux, whereas Ron was horrible to both of them under the influence. Let’s not forget Harry-he was a living horcrux. If the he affected the Dursleys that much, then he would have been horrible to people as well, but we only see his demeanour worsen when he wears the locket around his neck. Although this theory looks plausible, it does not fit other people and circumstances. Let’s admit it, Dursleys are just like Umbridge when it comes to Harry. I think this theory is busted.

Dumbledore Is Death

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Artwork by polisherci

This is the nicest one of them all. This theory suggest that Harry, Snape and Voldemort represent the [Peverell] brothers in “The Tale of the Three Brothers” from The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Dumbledore the Death. In the tale three brothers come across a river which has killed so many people before them. They make a bridge and cross it, displeasing Death. But Death wants to slyly take their lives. The eldest brother asks for a unbeatable wand. He boasts about having such a powerful wand, he gets killed in his sleep by a jealous wizard. The middle brother wants a way to bring his loved one back from death. She half-returns in agony and he kills himself in order to be with her. The youngest wants an invisibility cloak to be able to get away from Death. Only he accepts and embraces death when his time comes and meets with Death like an old friend. According to this, Voldemort is the eldest brother who seeks power and does anything to attain it. He thinks he has caused Dumbledore’s death, but the joke’s on him as Dumbledore causes his death with his knowledge of his horcruxes. Plus, Voldemort actually seeks the Elder Wand, like the first brother and dies because of it. He misjudges the true owner of the wand, shortsighted by his ego and pays the price. The middle brother is Snape, who spends his life mourning Lily’s death and craving her love. j-k-rowling-takes-to-twitter-to-set-the-record-straight-about-a-few-fan-theories-11-photos-5He brings her back to life through her son, Harry but he abuses him caused by his hatred for James and guilt for Lily’s death. His role as a double agent causes his death in the end and he agreed to that role to avenge Lily. The youngest brother is Harry; who, again, owns the Invisibility Cloak and accepts his role in the downfall of  Voldemort and death after looking in the pensieve. He also wakes up in King’s Cross, meets Dumbledore like an old friend despite doubting his every decision throughout his horcrux hunt. Dumbledore in return, causes the death of the two brothers indirectly, just like Death but is on good terms with the youngest. The parallelism in the course of events and the characters of the four of them fits perfectly, not to mention their ages. Even Rowling herself stated that she liked this theory. So I’d say this theory passes.

Ron Is Dumbledore

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Say whaaaat?

Yeah you heard that right. There are people who think that Ron Weasley is the time-travelling version of Albus Dumbledore. It is based on the few similarities in their appearance (redhead, big hands and tall) and their love for sweets (being on Chocolate Frog Cards amuses them both very much). Another detail is that in the line “he was born in a bin” from the song “Weasley Is Our King,” the word bin in Latin is a prefix meaning two-hinting at Ron’s double life. Admittedly, it is a bit farfetched and too much over reading. As it was explained in The Prisoner of Azkaban, time travel is a tricky business. You cannot show yourself and you cannot alter the past. Dumbledore has to go back several years, create a faux life for himself and constantly be in touch with himself. These already do not fit time travelling in the Potter universe. Dumbledore and Ron cannot be in the same room without causing mental problems to Dumbledore as he would know that it is him standing before his eyes. Ron continues to live after Dumbledore’s death, I don’t think that it could be possible for one self to die and the other continue, at one point all of them have to merge together, if not one would be immortal and it is not Dumbledore’s style. Also, if he were to go back in time, he would have directly gone to Tom Riddle era of Voldemort-still can’t change things but maybe learn more about his horcruxes. So, I think this theory definitely is busted.

Crookshanks Is the Potters’ Cat

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Once again from the old, beautiful Pottermore

This is my favourite theory so far. From Lily’s letter to Sirius, we know that the Potters had an unnamed cat. What happened to the cat after their death is unknown. Some suggest that it died in the ruins, although Hagrid would have noticed a cat and not left it to die and the others say that somehow it survived. The cat Hermione has adopted had been there for a very long time, it had been 12 years since the Potters died at that point and kneazles are known to live longer than regular cats. As Crookshanks is half-kneazle, the time line fits him. The other thing is that Crookshanks does not like and trust Scabbers from the moment he meets him. It can be because he senses that something is wrong with it, acting like a feline Sneakoscope, or it can be because he remembers Pettigrew the only person who was allowed in the Potter household after the Fidelius charm. He can remember the fact that Pettigrew betrayed them. He ends up befriending Sirius in his animagus form, whom he has never met probably. And this suggests that Crookshanks does not oppose Scabbers because he senses that he is human, but because he is actually shady. This theory, my friends, passes with flying colours.

Harry Is Immortal

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dun dun dun…

This theory is about the prophecy Trelawney predicts. The full prophecy is this:

The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches… born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies….

The theory concerns itself with “neither can live while the other survives.” In the books, this is interpreted as either Harry killing Voldemort or Voldemort killing him. People suggest that now that Voldemort is dead, the “other” is eliminated in the equation and the living other can now live, but the one who is able to kill Harry is Voldemort and with him gone Harry cannot be killed. I mean if are going to scrutinise words, we can say that both should be dead by default as they cannot survive together, not even 17 years, do you feel me? I think that the detail is nicely seen (kudos to that) but I think it is just Trelawney’s wording-to make it seem more dramatic. Dumbledore himself says that just because a prophecy was made, it doesn’t mean that it will come true. It is up to the character of the people: Voldemort would not rest until all of his enemies are dead and Harry would not rest until his parents and friends’ murderer is dead. As I take it, while one is dead, the other can now live freely, without the need to hunt, hide and fight but live a normal life with three kids. For me this is also busted.

There are so so so many more out there, even more crazy. These are the ones that I frequently come across and find intriguing to comment on. I don’t like the fan theories generally, but I accept Crookshanks as the Potters’ cat as head cannon!