Friday, November 26, 2010

Why Harry Potter is Popular

Dumbledore: “My dear Professor, I've never seen a cat sit so stiffly.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Dumbledore: “Ah, music. A magic beyond all we do here!”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Dumbledore: “As much money and life as you could want! The two things most human beings would choose above all—the trouble is, humans do have a knack of choosing precisely those things that are worst for them.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Honoured Writer: J. K. Rowling, after receiving an honorary degree from The University of Aberdeen, 6 July 2006(2006-07-06).
Photo Credit: Sjhill, 2006.

There is no question that the Harry Potter series is a success, not only with children but with adults. I have not read any of the books yet, but two of my reading-age children have read all the books and seen the movies. The happy consensus is that they love it and want more of J.K. Rowling's work. Not only my children, but their peers and hundreds of millions of people around the world. 

Ms. Rowling has a sense of the times and what people want, and may need to hear. It's about fantasy. It's about good humour. It's about magic. It's about imagination. These are all things that children, and some adults love.

The latest movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a major commercial success. Its opening last weekend earned more than $300 million, reports David Germain, AP Movie Writer, in Yahoo Canada Financial News:
Harry Potter has cast his biggest box-office spell yet with a franchise record $125.1 million domestically over opening weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" also added $205 million in 54 overseas countries, bringing the film's worldwide total to $330.1 million.

In terms of domestic revenue, "Deathly Hallows: Part 1" came in ahead of the series' best previous debut of $102.7 million for 2005's "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
That's fantastic news and gladdens my heart. It is right that such a film is a commercial success in today's times. The movies speak about the universal battle between Good and Evil, and does so in a the wonderful British manner and sensibility, following writers like Lewis CarrollC.S. Lewis and J.R. Tolkien.

Jacket Cover of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Retrieved from
Art By Jason Cockcroft © 2007 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. 

Ms. J.K. Rowling has a keen understanding of the current zeitgeist: the need for fantasy to explain a world that seems upside down. In an age of terror, people want to escape. This is what people did during the 1940s, when they went to see Hollywood musicals and read science fiction writers like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury. I have read a good many books from these authors in my formative years and all were pure escapism and a good read.

And today, science fiction and fantasy fills the need in people of all ages and of all sensible sentiments. The result is that Ms. Rowling has become wealthy and famous, and her body of work has given many enjoyment, thrills and consolation. All credit is due to Ms. Rowling for doing something good.

Yet, not everyone approves of her writing. Some are driven by ideological reasons (like hard-edged evangelical Christians), while others are driven by jealously (like other less-famous writers).

There will always be detractors when someone is doing good. There is not much one can do to change their views, as hardened as they have become, locked in an unbending ideology. It's the opposite of imagination. The good news is that hundreds of millions of people around the world, chiefly boys and girls, who might not have read anything, are now reading and developing their imagination.

Equally important, it lets children remain as children.
Note: I would like to hear your comments on the Harry Potter series.

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