Saturday, July 24, 2010
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
I had not even picked up this book to begin reading it since it was first published ten years ago. Sure, there have been times when I've said that I was going to go back and re-read the entire series, usually in preparation for the release of the next book or the new film adaptation. I would do pretty good getting through the first three books, but then I'd look at the enormous size of book 4 and I'd get lazy. I would just decide that I could watch the movie and I'd be fine. An epic fail on my part.
Things always get left out whenever Hollywood translates a book to film. It's inevitable. Anyone who has enjoyed a book knows to lower their expectations, despite the excitement of seeing a book they love make it to the big screen. But I had completely forgotten just how much was omitted when Goblet of Fire was made into a movie.
You know the opening scenes where Harry joins the Weasleys at the Quidditch World Cup? In the movie, that takes about 20 minutes, right? And then they're on the train to Hogwarts. Bam! Let's get right into the school year. Well, the book spends the first ten chapters dealing with the details that lead up to the World Cup, the details at the World Cup, the details in the tragic aftermath of the World Cup. Ten chapters! 157 pages! And it was all pared down to a 20 minute segment for the movie.
Those little details that get left out of the movie so help to enrich the grander story that's being told. And there's always an added bit of mystery when you're not able to see the faces of the hidden characters that you're not supposed to know yet, as opposed to a movie, where even the mystery characters have recognizable faces. Anyway, it's a great book that I've taken for granted for a long time, thanks to ABC Family's need to replay the movie a few times every month.
For the first time in the series, the novel opens not from Harry Potter's perspective, but from the perspective of a Muggle named Frank Bryce. He's really no one special. Just an old man who takes care of the grounds around the old, abandoned Riddle mansion. He's not well liked by folks in the nearby town, so he mostly keeps to himself, but he takes his job quite seriously, especially when he believes that kids from the town are sneaking into the old house to pull off some vandalism. Frank investigates when he sees that a fire has been lit in one of the upstairs rooms. Instead of meeting up with trouble-making youths, he comes face to face with a weakened, shriveled Lord Voldemort. Despite his weakened state, Voldemort has enough power to cast a killing curse on Frank Bryce, who never even knew what hit him.
Thus begins a long road to recovery for Harry Potter's darkest adversary. That murder, seen in a dream by Harry, starts a chain of events that leads to Harry's unwilling role in Voldemort's regaining of full strength. Of course, we get to experience the thrill of the Quidditch World Cup along with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. We deal with the kids' excitement and speculation as they arrive at school to discover that Hogwarts will be hosting the Tri-Wizard Tournament, which hasn't been held in over a century. And we follow Harry Potter, step by step, as his name impossibly flies out of the Goblet of Fire, entering him into the Tournament, forcing him to face some very deadly challenges.
As I said, there were many details omitted from the film, and there were even several plot lines and significant characters that didn't make the cut. So if you have the choice, go for the book over the movie. I'd probably say that with just about any book though. And as for re-reading the Harry Potter series this time, I'm more than halfway there. Only three to go, and then I'll be ready to be disappointed by the 2-part Deathly Hallows films. Though, admittedly, the trailer looks pretty freakin' awesome...