Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Most Annoying Character: Hotter Potter May Meme

This month’s meme of Hotter Potter came just with a perfect timing, when I was getting annoyed by certain characters in the 5th book. So, I knew instantly whom I’d like to write about when Melisa posted the question for May’s meme:

“Who do you think is the most annoying character in Harry Potter series? Why?”
[“Menurut kamu siapa karakter yang paling menyebalkan dalam seri Harry Potter? Alasannya?”]

Actually there are two persons whom I am annoyed at; these two are not the villains such as Voldemort or Bellatrix Lestrange or Dolores Umbridge. With them, I think I could not be annoyed because they are almost inhumane for me; humans without heart. No, these annoying characters of mine are good people who fought with Dumbledore against the Dark Arts, but there are things in them that annoyed me. Well, let’s just unveil the two most annoying characters of me… James Potter and Sirius Black.

I always despised bullying. I think bullying is even crueler than murder. In murder you steal a life away from the victim and it’s all over; but in bullying you keep him/her alive, while you are stealing his/her good future he/she deserved to have. And in the case of James and Sirius, they bullied Snape just because they didn’t like him! Really, I can’t stand it. To me, these actions are not just teenager foolishness—like what Sirius, Lupin and even Dumbledore said in defense of James—it was a lack of human compassion. I have recently read an argument from Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood; that from the age of 7, a child already has the knowledge or the sense of right and wrong, so there is no such nonsense of teenager foolishness in doing bullying!

James and Sirius were arrogant and indifferent teenagers when they were in fifth grade—from what Harry witnessed through Snape’s thoughts from the Pensive. Both of them thought they were superior, the most important figures of others. That might not be a serious sin, because a lot of teenagers think the same way; but that doesn’t mean they could torture other student out of indifference, just because Snape was just Snape and they don’t like him. Oh no, I can never tolerate that, whether they were heroes or not. For me they were just pathetic losers!

Okay, they had perhaps done a lot of worthy and heroic things later on after they were grown up—they were great wizards anyway--and bullying a teenager might just be a tiny spot in their curriculum vitae. But see what their actions had resulted; Severus Snape had grown up as a bitter man, and if only Dumbledore didn’t save him, he could have been a dangerous opponent if he served faithfully to Voldemort. I would like to know what James might have thought from his grave, knowing how Snape treated his son unfairly for those pain seven years. And that’s all began just because of two arrogant student’s foolishness. I think Snape was a good student, he worked hard at school, and later on should have become a good teacher if not because of his bitter manner towards students—thanks to his dark history.

So I think James and Sirius deserved to be my most annoying characters, because they just snatched a better life of another person, and for that, I can never forgive them. However, as I think this meme required us to pick only one most annoying character, I must pick one of those two anyway. I think I can spare James of this because he died very young (and so, didn’t do anything more foolish that what he’d done); and that leaves…

Sirius Black…

to be my most annoying characters in Harry Potter. He might not be the main cause of the bullying, but he agreed with James, he supported him. And I can see that Sirius never fully grown up when he was already adult. Sirius kept worshipping James; he never regretted what he had done with James as ‘teenager foolishness’ towards Snape. And the funniest of all, Harry Potter now worships him also as his godfather. Oh well, but Harry is as arrogant as his godfather—being James’ son and inherits James’ personalities—so I can’t be too surprised. And as a godfather, Sirius even disagreed with Harry’s cautious thoughts, sneered at him of being too soft, that the danger was what made it fun. Oh, what a perfect man for a godfather! There are people who never grow up and still think they are the best of all…… :(

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix [Re-read]

Things get much darker now as we come to the fifth book of Harry Potter; that even from the beginning Harry must deal with dementors who were coming his way within the Muggle’s territory! It is in this book that I begin to remember why the Dursleys keep taking care of Harry—although begrudgingly—all this time. You know, I begin to have a little sympathy for them, which I didn’t feel at my first reading. I came to think, how my family and I would react if we must take a relative who comes from another world and brings a lot of weird troubles. I can understand how the Dursleys yearn for a quiet and normal life, when they don’t have to think suspiciously whenever they see an owl or when there is something unusual happen in the neighborhood. And I have a respect for Petunia Dursley for keeping her promise to Dumbeldore these five years; anyway she had suffered greatly by the wizarding world, that I wish Harry and his friends could be more sympathetic to her.

The fifth book talks about how Ministry of Magic stubbornly refused the idea of Voldemort’s rising, and instead banning Dumbledore. Stripped from his power, Dumbledore formed The Order of the Phoenix whose main job is to consolidate the wizarding world and to build power against Voldemort. Meanwhile, Hogwarts suffered under Dolores Umbridge who was placed as Head of Inquisitor, or Ministry’s spy as a matter of fact. Here, again, Hermione came with a brilliant idea that students also need to practically learn how to defense against dark arts. So they formed ‘Dumbledore Army’, a group of students who learn to practice charms and jinxes from Harry, as the leader. Here is also where Harry tasted the bittersweet of love for the first time. I’m not disappointed of Harry and Cho’s breaking up in the end, because they were too far different. Cho would never understand the heavy burden Harry must take on his shoulders, while Harry could never understand how someone could take things so simple. Well, there’s nobody to blame, and their relationship was impossible from the first anyway.

The mysterious connection between Harry and Voldemort is slowly revealed in this book; how Harry’s and Voldemort’s mind or emotion could relate each other; how harry should learn Occlumency to shut down the connection—which he took it for granted because Harry was too determined to carry things by himself (typical teenager, of course); and how Voldemort finally trapped him to the Ministry of Magic. And what a deadly fight Harry and his friends had there with those Death Eaters! Hogwarts should be proud of having fifth grade students fought the enemies so bravely! And at the end, someone very dear to Harry must die. I remember years ago, when the fifth book was first published, J.K. Rowling warned us that one of Harry’s dear ‘friends’ was going to die. My friends and I kept guessing, who that would be, is it going to be Ron or Hermione? Dumbledore? Hagrid? Oh…the anticipation was really torturing us back then.

Harry’s real genuine character was revealed in this book, the good and also the bad. Just like his father—and Sirius—Harry is arrogant. He always thought himself on top of others, he was more proud rather than deploring his faith to be the biggest opponent of Voldemort. He liked to think about his own feeling, and was often indifferent of how his friends must have suffered from his raising temper just because he was kept in dark by others for his own good. I think in this book Harry Potter begins to annoy me. However, Harry also showed much bravery here. It’s no wonder that the sorting hat was confused when Harry first arrived at Hogwarts, to which House it should put him to. Harry possessed both qualities to be in Slytherin and Griffindor: he’s arrogant but he’s also brave. Now I begin to think that Snape was right from the beginning, Harry resembled his father a lot, especially James’ negative qualities.

Any act of bullying is always disgusted me, so I must say that I can never forgive James Potter for his rude bullying against Snape. Dumbledore, Lupin or Sirius might have said that it was only a fifteen years teenage foolishness, but I disagree. Harry, Ron and Neville were also fifteen years but their biggest flaws were perhaps breaking school rules and tempted to have quarrels with Malfoy; they never bullied others just for fun and because they didn’t like the victim. That.Is.Cruel! And I don’t think it’s right for others too to tell Harry that it was just foolishness. I think Snape was right (again); they (Lupin and Sirius) just worshiped James too much, that they failed to see that besides James’ brave and loyal qualities, he also had this bad side.

There are so many things in this fifth book that I can’t describe them all here, one of them is Ron’s being a prefect—with Hermione it’s natural, but for Ron..it’s..wow! I’m glad that Rowling spared chance for Ron to develop a bit here, instead of always being a shadow to Harry. In several occasions, I even think Ron was now more grown up and got wiser than Harry.

Four and a half stars for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

And as always, my favorite Dumbledore’s wise quote as a final treat….

“Harry, suffering like this proves you are still a man! This pain is part of being human— The fact that you can feel pain like this is your greater strength.”


*I read ebook version for:*

5th book for Hotter Potter

Monday, May 20, 2013

[Movie] Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

The Harry Potter series are perhaps the most satisfying ‘books into movies” for me so far; either because J.K. Rowling has written the books very vividly or because she was involved in the movie production. Unlike my first experience of watching this movie, this time I watched the movie right after I’ve finished the book, so I still got quite fresh memory to compare both.

Overall, from castings, story and plot, and setting and costumes, I have only little to complaint. Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are only few of the stars who blend in the characters in the book very well. Maybe my only complaint is for Daniel Radcliffe who plays at Harry Potter. I always think Daniel is much too ‘sweet’ for Harry. The movie setting are also fabulous; the way they made Hogwarts castles as what we’ve always imagined it, is just one of the many thumbs-up settings in this movies. If I have one critic, it’s for the Yule ball. With the girls wearing evening dress like we all wear, it had lost the ‘wizarding’ touch. It’s just weird to see boys in their dress robes dance with girls in their evening dress, it made the party looked like a Muggle’s party.

So now, about story and plot; most of Harry Potter movies’ plot follows the story from books, only here and there they were cut and slightly changed to make it compact for a movie. In this Goblet of Fire, there are little changes of the details; some of them do not alter the sense of the story, but some do. For example in the Triwizard Tournament—at the point when Harry and Cedric met in the middle of the maze and finally decided to go for the cup together. In the book, I remember Harry was the one who was limp because he strained his leg, however in the movie Harry was the one who helped Cedric from the roots which strangled him (I also did not find this one in the book). In the book it’s Cedric who must fight his ego to grab the cup and leave Harry behind, but in the movie it’s Harry who suffered it. Maybe it’s to give credit to the main hero, that he was not selfish.

I must admit that the cinematographer has done a good work here, and so I’m happy to grant 8.5 to 10 stars for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie!


I watched this for Books Into Movies Monthly Meme #4

Friday, May 3, 2013

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire [Re-Read]

Goblet of Fire turns out to be one turning point for Harry Potter series. It is where Harry Potter is no longer children literature, and from this fourth series on it would become much deeper and darker. Even amidst the splendor and glittering of Quidditch World Cup, Rowling slipped for the first time the Dark Mark signal. Things are now getting serious, especially for Harry when the Triwizard Tournament takes place in Hogwarts. But the real blow is the rising of Voldemort, Cedric Diggory’s murder and the chaos in wizardry world after having been in a prosperous era for thirteen years. No wonder there are people (and most of the wizardry world) who denied the idea that Voldemort has returned. It’s not only about accepting ideas, but Voldemort’s rising would turn over the whole aspects in their world. It’s enormously difficult for greedy people like Cornelius Fudge to admit it, because it would mean a disaster for himself. And that’s why this book should be read by adults or young adults at least, who deal much with the real life, because what happens in this story might happen in the real world.

Like always, I would share my random thoughts during my re-reading of this book. Frankly speaking—except for the Quidditch Cup and Triwizard Tournament—I have forgotten almost the whole story. So, this second reading worked as refreshing and rekindling my feeling about it.

Speaking of the much darker theme of this book, even in the first lesson of the Defense Against Dark Arts class, Harry—in the midst of his cheerful moments in Hogwarts—must have thought painfully about his parents’ die. Here’s a child who never knew and couldn’t even imagine how his parents had died. From the beginning, Harry’s life was already full of violence…. :(

Now speaking about the Triwizard Tournament, it’s a real spicy bonus from Rowling. It’s a pity that the tournament turns out to be only Voldemort’s tool to get Harry, and thus it’s far from fair. I don’t think Harry would even be a strong competitor if he doesn’t always get clues from others before the tasks. One thing I’m wondering though…we know how Fleur and Krum got their clues for the first task—the dragons; but how do they get to know the second one? I don’t think Cedric would tell them, he told Harry only because he owed Harry the first task’s clue. Now, do you think the fake Moody would bother to tell them? I don’t think so, because it’s going to be easier to let Harry win if two of the champions fail. Do Fleur and Krum find it out themselves only minutes before the task? But that would prove they are really good. I can imagine Krum as a talented wizard, but Fleur…. I doubt it, considering her failing on first task. So, is this another Rowling’s flaw or do you have better idea? :)

I consider this book as the Harry Potters turning point, not merely of the dark theme, but also the touch of humanity Rowling sprinkles into this story. I’m talking about Hermione with her SPEW campaign and elf issue. Actually we have been familiar with the similar issue with pure blood and mudblood issue from the previous series, however here we get some action, some momentum to fight the social injustice. More than status, elf issue means slavery. And from how the elfs (except Dobby) resist to be freed, I’ve been thinking that the real human slavery, as well as colonialism, can go on hundreds of years because people get used to the treatment; until someday, only when there would be someone who’s sensible and brave enough to fight for their independence, they would be fully independent.

And then this came to my mind, how hard it is for us to accept transformation; how difficult it is to make us think outside the box. Being in the comfort zone would always be most of our choices, although we also keep complaining of life being so hard, etc. Wizards don’t want to hear that Voldemort is back; Elfs don’t want to be freed; both because they can’t afford to have their comfort zone to be ripped out from them and to be replaced by something new they know nothing about. That’s pathetic!

Now we come to the sentimental aspects of this book :) Although Cedric’s tragic death seems to be the scene that shed tears the most, it did not touch me the way I did on first reading. On the contrary, scenes of Hagrid in the bitterness of being a half-giant, or Ron of being poor, touched me deeper than anything else throughout the book.

Here’s Hagrid’s wise quote:

“Yeh know what I’d love, Harry? I’d love yeh ter win, I really would. It’d show ‘em all…. Yeh don’ have ter be pure blood ter do it. Yeh don’ have ter be ashamed of what yeh are. It’d show ‘em Dumbledore’s the one who’s got it righ’, letting anyone in as long as they can do magic.”

What a lesson that is, ‘You don’t have to be ashamed of what you are!”. Bravo Hagrid!!

And my most heartbreaking scene came from the following passage, this time Ron’s speaking to Harry when they both knew that Leprechaun’s money was fake, it’d disappear after few days. Ron just realized that the Leprechaun’s money he got from Quidditch World Cup, which he gave Harry to pay for the thing Harry bought him (I forget the goods, is it Sneakoscope?), never existed. And Harry never told him about this.

The thing is, although he is very poor (and this applies to the whole family, not only in Ron), Ron never asks for pity or begs from others. This is not just a snobbish proud, but a noble principle. The Leprechaun’s gold coins are perhaps the only treasure he has ever possessed; and yet, he gave it to Harry to pay for the gift so that he’d never owe anything to Harry. Ron is so proud that he can give his treasure to his wealthy friend, whom he always secretly envies. So I can imagine how it feels for Ron knowing that he had given Harry false gold coins; and most of all because Harry never mentioned it that just highlighted Ron’s poorness. It hurts so much when people emphasize the fact that you are poor; even when it’s the truth, really! So, when Harry gives Ron an indifferent answer that he never realized about the missing gold coin, Ron breaks down. These passages scratched my heart deeply….

Must be nice, to have so much money you don’t notice if a pocketful of Galleons goes missing.”
I didn’t know Leprechaun gold vanishes. I thought I was paying you back.”
I hate being poor.”

Oh…poor Ron, and with all you must have gone through, being a friend to a wealthy famous Harry Potter, you are a true friend till the end. Really, it’s you who should be called a great wizard, not Potter! Potter got all of it from friendly circumstances, you do all of you’ve done in spite of unfriendly circumstances!

Four and a half stars for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

And to end this review, as usual, I’m summoning Dumbledore here to share his wise words…

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!”


*I read ebook version for:*

4th book for Hotter Potter