A blog about general entertainment, fashion, and movies. And some random stuff too.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Movie Response: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The reason I have titled this a movie "response" instead of a review is because there is no way on Earth I could ever review this as a film. I am so in love with the book series I am blind to anything that would make The Deathly Hallows Part 2 anything other than just a book adaptation. So, this is more about how an avid HP-book fan (who also happens to love film) has responded to it. 

I have sat down about five different times over the past two weeks trying to begin what I imagine won't even be a review of this movie as much as it is me just weeping over my keyboard, and each time I was unable to accomplish anything. My love for the Harry Potter series knows no bounds, so sitting down to write about the end of it is quite emotionally overwhelming. I don't even know where to start or how to organize my thoughts. So, hopefully this post won't turn into a horrible mess, hah! I've been told by a few people that if it's so hard to write I should just not write it, maybe it's too close. But usually, when something means this much to me, I have to write it out, get it out on paper so I don't have to carry it around. It's my own little version of the Pensieve.

I think I've gone about trying to write this the wrong way. With other movies of the HP franchise, I would have to see them over and over to really nail down all the things I wanted to say, otherwise I'd be at a loss. But with this one, I have so many things to say just from the first viewing, that seeing it over and over again before I started writing has actually become a hindrance. Now that I've had some space from it I think I can finally start. LET'S DO THIS.

Gorgeous graphic, no idea who to credit.
Two and a half weeks ago I reread the last two hundred pages of The Deathly Hallows (since that's what Part 2 will deal with). Also, it was my fourth time to reread, so this wasn't new territory for me. However, the new thing I did was I read it aloud in the span of about a day and a half. It was something I wanted to do because my husband was on a camping trip, I had the house to myself, and I had never read any part of the HP series aloud before. I also knew it was the last time I would get to read the book without having the movie in my mind to influence me one way or another. However, I had no idea what reading these last few chapters in this way would do or the effect it would have on me. For some reason, that experience allowed the story to settle in much deeper than it ever had before, and by the end of the chapter called “The Forest Again” I could barely finish saying some of the sentences because I was crying so hard. I definitely collected a nice pile of tissues and by the time I finished the book, around 4 AM that Saturday night, for the nth time in my life I fell asleep holding a Harry Potter book (judge if you will).

I don’t have reactions like this to every series I read. I’ve cried at the end of a few because they have moved me, but I have never felt so deeply connected to characters like I have when reading Harry Potter. It’s absolutely my heart and I love it so much. The only book series that has ever rivaled it is Lord of the Rings. So, needless to say, heading into the theater to see the ending for the first time was confusing. I was excited because I couldn't wait to see what it looked like, I was dreading it because I didn't want it to end (plus I knew some of the things that happen within it are horribly sad), I was skeptical because there are moments that I wanted to be absolutely perfect, I was hopeful because Yates had done a great job with the last three movies, and yet I was scared that there was no way it could all really hold up to the standards I held for it. 

I'm not sure if any of you have seen this cartoon before:

But... this was pretty much me and my crew during the opening. It didn't take us, especially me, long to get emotional. In fact, the first shot of the entire film is so meaningful I couldn't even stand it. We start to hear one of Desplat's beautiful pieces (the one called Lily's Theme) played over a shot of a silhouetted figure, shrouded in black, Severus Snape. He watches over the courtyard as the students are marched inside the castle in a sort of boot camp style arrangement. A thoughtful, perhaps indiscernible expression is worn on Alan Rickman's face, and then the Harry Potter logo appears.

It was absolutely the perfect way to open this movie. Snape is the character that the entire series hinges on. It would have been easy to go straight in to the trio's story at first. I mean, that's the next step in the book, after all. Yet Yates is smart enough to know that he has to remind movie audiences that there is a crap-ton of mystery around Snape and that, by God, we're finally going to figure it out within these next two hours. Not to mention, he threw all of us book fans an enormous treat by opening with Lily's song during a Snape shot, something movie-goers will only understand after they see it. (HIGH FIVE!) Since I wasn't expecting this image so early in the movie, I got choked up immediately (especially since, Snape is my favorite character).

This opening set the bar pretty high, but I felt like the movie continued to hit the right mark in the following scenes, too. Helena Bonham Carter playing Hermione playing Bellatrix was enigmatic, Ron's hilarious and oddly attractive Death Eater costume was awesome, and the dragon at Gringotts was exactly how I pictured it. Exactly! There were some changes that were made for the movie, such as the goblets didn't burn the trio, but I think it was ok to leave little things like this out. Especially since visually, it would be really hard to explain what was happening without having a Legolas-line in there explaining the charm. ("Guys, it's a diversion!") I thought it was smart to cut that.

When the trio made it to Hogsmeade I got really nervous because I knew from that point on there would be no moment of relief until the end. I was also curious to see how they dealt with Aberforth since so much of Dumbledore's story had been left out. Just as I wondered that, this line happened: "I don't care about what happened between you and your brother," as if Daniel Radcliffe had paused the movie to say directly to me 'Audree, it's not gonna happen, we will not be dealing with that storyline. That crap doesn't matter.' And while I guess I understand why it had to be left out at this point, since it would have been pretty overwhelming to bring it up in the last hour and a half of the entire 8-movie series, I was still slightly disappointed.

Some may argue it was unnecessary backstory, but I love that Dumbledore had a sordid, questionable past. It is just another example in this series of how choices define a person’s life (a motif that the series deals with in every book). It also makes Dumbledore so much more relatable and human, in my opinion, because it shows us he had flaws that even he had to overcome. It makes all of his achievements that much greater because, unlike we were lead to think by seeing Dumbledore through Harry’s idealizing eyes, Dumbledore wasn’t always this god-like, all-knowing genius. Once he was a mixed up kid who was overly ambitious and self-centered. He had to work through all of that to become great, and that’s one of my favorite elements of his character.

Also, it mirrors Snape’s life to a degree. Obviously these characters are very different, but a lot of their choices in the past lead them to be the great Wizards they were. Which, I believe, might be why Dumbledore ended up giving Snape another chance, because he saw some of himself in Snape and believed that people could turn around from bad choices they have made in the past. Leaving Dumbledore's past out of it robs the movie audience of this depth to the story. But then again, maybe it wouldn't have worked so well on screen and in the last stretch of the story. I forgive them.

When the trio is taken by Neville through the portrait back into Hogwarts and they emerge into the Room of Requirements to clapping and to the original Harry Potter theme music from the first movie, tears. Tear. Tears. So sweet and so wonderful! I especially appreciated the fact that they were able to keep some funny or light-hearted moments going, especially in this scene. Helped to balance all the looming deaths a bit, I think. (Also, can we just take a moment to applaude Yates for Neville/Luna? I always thought that's how it should have ended up!)

It was after this scene that the movie did one of those things that makes all book fans cock their heads to side and say: "Whaaaa?" Ginny comes in and says Snape has heard Harry was spotted in Hogsmeade and he calls all the students to the Great Hall. Then he makes a speech (with cleverly worded phrases that can later be interpreted differently) and asks the students to step forward if any of them know where Harry might be. Then Harry jumps out and accosts Snape for killing Dumbledore and wreaking havoc on Hogwarts as the Order of the Phoenix marches through the doors.

That moment was pretty epic, however, it never happened in the book. I do, on the other hand, understand why they added it. It was important for them to establish that Snape has killed the headmaster and now he is parading around as the headmaster, standing in Dumbledore's spot. Here the line is visually (albeit symbolically) drawn in the sand with the two sides taking stands. The only issue is that Snape belongs on the side of the line Harry is standing on, so as a Snape fan, it was hard for me to hear Harry yell horrible things at him, but it was good for the audience who didn't know what the heck was to come, plus it gave Snape more screen time which is always the better choice. Then, "The Sacking of Severus Snape" happens and the epicness progresses because McGonagall steps out and displays a level of badassery we've rarely seen in previous Harry Potter films. (Anyone else notice that Snape knocks the Carrows down himself during his duel with McGonagall? PRETTY SNEAKY, SEV.) 

One nit-pick tangent: The only part about this scene I did not like was when McGonagall told Filch to take the Slytherins to the dungeons like they were in trouble. I get it, the Slytherins are supposedly the "bad guys" but that's... not really true. And the movie kind of took the idea that "all Slytherins are bad" and ran with it. It undermines a lot of what I think houses stand for. Some people have even gone so far as to say they should just eliminate Slytherin house but I think it’s important to have Slytherin in Hogwarts. The reason why I feel this way is that motif I keep talking about in context of Harry Potter: choices. I think the sorting hat has a lot more to do with choices than people realize (Harry even says this to his son at the end), and by taking Slytherin away, you are eliminating a choice the students could make. Harry could have been sorted easily in Slytherin, but he chose Gryffindor. I guess what I am saying is you can’t have good without the bad, and so Rowling keeps it that way to show that life is full of choice and no matter where you are put, even in Slytherin, you can always choose to be good. Look at Slughorn. He’s a Slytherin and the worst thing he’s ever done is be a raging opportunist and steal some weeds from Herbology.

Just because someone is in Slytherin doesn’t mean that they are evil. Being sorted into a house is more about which traits are stronger in you, but not necessarily that you lack any of the other houses’ traits. There are examples of many people acting “uncharacteristically” within all houses. You could use Percy as an example, or an even better one, Peter Pettigrew, for Gryffindors who don’t always do the “courageous” thing. In fact, Peter turned out to be one of the most cowardly and treacherous characters in the entire story. And then we have Snape who was a Slytherin who spent more than half his life choosing to be the most courageous spy in the Wizarding World, constantly in danger. They had to make choices and that defined them; it was not the houses they were placed in. Dumbledore did many things in his youth that a lot of people would say are Slytherin traits, while Snape did many things in the second half of his life that were very Gryffindor. So to lump all Slytherins together and send them away, with the rest of the Great Hall cheering, just rubbed me the wrong way. In the book she gave all of-age students a choice, and I like that better. Because Slytherins, by definition look out for themselves and probably would have decided to leave anyways, but at least then she didn't single them all out.
 < / tangent>

Back to the review: This is when all of the professors and members of the Order start stationing people all over the castle and setting up protective charms. As soon as this began I started to tear up. Not only was Desplat's beautiful score to blame for this, but also what Hogwarts represented to the characters and to me, and knowing that it was about to be destroyed. When it was attacked by the Death Eaters and parts of it began to fall apart and be set on fire, it felt like I was watching a character I love die. Not to mention the little moments Yates gives us with characters we know will die, just before the battle begins (Remember Lupin quoting himself, and the "You ok Freddie? Me too" moment? TEARS. TEARS FOREVER.) And from that point on, the flood gates were open. There was no "Is she crying?" about it. It was more a question of just how hard the crying was at any given moment.

From here, all hell breaks loose and the battle has officially begun. I felt most all elements of the battles were just perfect. The graphics, the pacing, the music, pretty much everything seemed wonderfully awful, like it was supposed to be. They also added an element that I thought worked really well in the film, Harry being able to hear the horcruxes, which simplified Harry's search for them and I think added to the coalescence that he is one. For movie-only audiences, that probably worked very well to smooth out any complications or misunderstandings in dealing with that storyline, plus it helped trim some of the extra exposition that would seem out of place being explained at this point.

It's here I have to mention how wonderful the performances of the trio really are. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint cannot be complimented enough for their chemistry and their talents. Especially Dan, who in many scenes gave me goosebumps, specifically when he tries to look into Voldemort's mind. So intense, so genuine. It also needs to be pointed out that film was the first time I didn't question Ralph Fiennes once as Voldemort. His performance in Part 2 was spot on and I believed him every second he was on screen. I don't know if it was because he got to do more with him because Voldy was a lot more emotional in this one, or what, but whatever he did sold me on him, finally.

Like the book, the movie pulls no punches. People are going to die, people you really love, and it might be shocking, and it might not even happen while you're able to watch, because that's war. After the trio saves Draco and Blaise and kill the Diadem, they have to run down to the boat house (Which... I don't know why they changed where this next scene takes place from the Shrieking Shack to a boat house, but ok, whatever. I guess it's not really that big of a deal.). As they make their way through the Hogwarts courtyard, it's just a horrible mess of friends being beaten up, Death Eaters attacking, giants crushing things, Hogwarts being exploded, me ugly crying.... oh the horror. But maybe the most disturbing thing for me, something I was not expecting (and perpetually forgot about until it was right in my face each time I've rewatched) was the trio coming across Fenrir Greyback chewing on a dead Lavender Brown. Genuinely horrified me each time I saw the film. It was a small moment, but very impactful.

Which brings us to the moment I had been waiting for since I read this part when the book was released in 2007: the Snape Revelation. I had built up these next few scenes so much that there was no way on Earth they could have done them to my standards. I just knew I was going to be let down, so as Harry, Ron, and Hermione sneak up to the boat house and we see the dialogue between the Dark Lord and Snape unfold, I tried not to get my hopes up. But, it didn't matter. I could have never, in a million years, imagined the perfection that Yates and Alan Rickman could produce in the way they handled the end of Snape's story. I was completely blown away!

The way Snape was killed was shocking, even though I knew it was coming. There was something really frightening and sickening about not actually seeing it happening, but only hearing it through (and slightly seeing against) the glass of the window Harry was ducking underneath. In the trailer there is a glimpse of what looks like Snape being attacked by the snake. I think it was wise to leave that out of the finished product because it was much more significant the way it ended up.

Then, there's this moment, this beautiful moment, where the goodness in Harry won't allow him to let Snape, a man he hates, die alone. So he rushes in and comes to Snape's side and does what he can to stop the bleeding, and instead of a bitter or hateful expression, he sees a man with anguished tears streaming down his face. (I absolutely love that they changed the memories to tears! What an absolutely perfect personification of Snape's entire life! The memories that are his secret miserable lonely regrets are revealed in his TEARS! YATES I LOVE YOU.) Harry takes the memories into a flask and then we hear those words "Look at me," not a demand, a request (RICKMAN FOR ALL THE AWARDS). Then, the most beautiful addition to this scene, "You have your mother's eyes." With these words coming from this man, Harry looks as though he's hearing this comment for the first time. (Welp, I'm crying again.) THIS. SCENE. WAS. PERFECTION. From all sides. I couldn't have ask for more!

Immediately, we are thrown into another tragic moment (Fred being attacked by a Death Eater) that was completely lost on my first viewing because I was rendered so useless from the perfection of Snape's death scene that I ugly cried right through it. One of my friends had to tell me that we actually see Fred being disarmed. Then we see the Weasley family weeping over his body as the trio re-enters the castle. It's just awful! So heart-breaking, especially seeing George's face. Then the camera cuts to Lupin and Tonks, both pale and dead on the floor. It's bam! bam! bam! with these deaths and Yates gives us no time to recover from any of them, much like Rowling did in her books. Honestly, I felt like it kept with the tone of the book quite well and I appreciated why it was dealt with in this way. I know many people felt like Fred's death deserved more screen time, that it was just glossed over (heck, I nearly missed it the first time), but I actually don't have this complaint. It's war and there isn't time to pause the battle to savor a dramatic moment. That's one thing I really loved about Yates' Battle of Hogwarts.

The Pensieve scene hung looming, right around the corner. As it began, I held my breath. The children they cast as young Lily and Snape were perfect and the music during this part was astounding. As we meandered through Snape's most personal moments at school, I hungered for more. They had skipped some of my favorite scenes of the book from when he and Lily were at Hogwarts. It jumps from the Sorting Hat straight to when Severus was in his 20s and leaves out the awful memory about Sirius and James which I felt was important. But, because of how the memories kept sweeping from one thing to the other, I didn't have time to be very disappointed. During the scene where Dumbledore tells Severus that Lily has been killed, I couldn't believe how perfectly Alan Rickman played Snape. It was just what I wanted to see because that moment in the book is so heartbreaking. Also, the mixing in of sound bites from previous films to give the flashbacks context were brilliant. I really loved what I was seeing, but, still, something felt like it was missing and I didn't know what.

Then, the final part of the memory begins. If ever I had doubts about anything in this film, this scene completely erased them all. This is, arguably, the most important part of the entire series, where all the mysteries are revealed and we finally realize Snape's motivation for killing Dumbledore, the true depth of his love and selflessness, and what Harry will have to do in order to defeat the Dark Lord (all in one scene, overwhelming!). The music swells as Dumbledore reveals Harry's grim fate and the fan favorite "Always" moment occurs all while a scene of a younger Snape discovering Lily's body, cradling her, crying over her, is woven throughout. Flawlessly done! It was the perfect visual and emotional crescendo for this beautiful and tragic scene that so much of the story has depended on and still depends on. The image of Snape holding Lily was something I had never dreamed I'd see in the film, so when it happened I couldn't believe it. It was the most satisfied yet heartbroken I have ever been during a movie. That sequence is the best in the entire series, in my opinion. Absolutely perfect, even better than any standard I could have set for it myself.

Oh, but don't think you have any time to recover from this wave of emotions, either. There's not even enough time to wipe your eyes and (let's face it) your nose before the next heart-wrenching moment is all up in your face. Because as soon as Harry pulls his face from the Pensieve and the weight of everything he's just learned about his fate crashes down on him, he's in the arms of his two best friends and they are saying goodbye to him, forever. This scene isn't in the book because Harry goes to the Forbidden Forest alone and under his invisibility cloak, but I think it was important to show the trio's reaction to this news. The only thing I didn't like about this moment is a perpetual problem the entire film series has always had: making Ron secondary to Hermione. It always bothers me that Ron tends to take a backseat in the trio to Harry and Hermione's friendship because in the book all three are very close and Harry needs BOTH of them to survive. But in the grand scheme of things in this film, it's a small complaint for another post.

"The Forest Again" scene, at risk of sounding horrible redundant, was just beautiful and it seemed to be adapted word for word from the book! Daniel was so moving in this scene and delivered his lines with the best kind of vulnerability (my ugly crying continues). Then, there was another precious addition to this scene that took me by surprise. When Harry says "They won't be able to see you?" Sirius replies, "But we're here you see," and his mother adds, "Always." (I really feel that Yates ships Lily/Snape, too, as well as Neville/Luna!) Again, this is a change I never imagined, but when it happened I couldn't handle all my feelings. Just when I thought I couldn't get choked up any more than I already had, Harry marches into the forest to his death, and it cuts to Hagrid tied up to the trees, begging Harry to go back. (I'm surprised I didn't frighten people around me with my cries, though I was told that even though I was obviously distraught, I did a good job muffling/hiding it. So there's that.) Again, Daniel plays this part with palpable vulnerability, a boy who has come prepared to die for the ones he loves, and then he does.

The last stitch of hope I had held on to that they would visit some of Dumbledore's past was squashed when Harry woke up in King's Cross. Some of my favorite lines of the headmaster from the book were still in this scene, but the tone of the entire thing was all wrong. In the book Dumbledore explains everything to Harry in an apologetic, broken way, and Harry, for the first time in their relationship, comforts Dumbledore and reassures him. Harry wasn't unsure of what to do next in the book yet at the end of this part in movie his last words to Dumbledore are "Professor, what do I do?" What really upsets me about this is, in Dumbledore's last scene of the series, his character has officially NEVER been presented correctly on screen. It's such a shame, because he's such a wonderful, complex creation.  

Onto the final battle! Many people had some reservations about the way the final battle was handled. I think mostly because of the odd blocking they chose instead of how Rowling had it mapped out, but to that I say this: It's a movie about a war and they are going to sensationalize it. I feel making the final battle of an 8-movie series bigger, scarier, and bloodier is called for because we've waited for ten years to see this showdown. Yes, they prolonged the killing of the snake and drew out the physical and violent nature of Voldemort vs Harry because, if they hadn't, people would have then complained it was anti-climatic. Plus, all that epic stalling made Neville's shining moment that much more awesome. (Also, ZOMG MOLLY WEASLEY. That is all.)

In the end, the last few people Harry interacts with are Hagrid (whom he hugs in the Great Hall after Voldemort is finally dead), and Hermione and Ron. I desperately wanted Ron or Hermione to ask Harry about Snape or about the Pensieve so he would talk a little about him, maybe even mention that he's going to have a portrait of Severus hung in the Headmaster's office with the others. But that didn't happen. Instead, Harry explains about the Elder Wand to his friends and not to the Dark Lord in the heat of battle, which I think was a much more reasonable and believable choice than what happened in the book. Then, it blacks out on a shot of the trio holdings hands with a destroyed Hogwarts standing in the background (ouch, my heart).

Many people didn't like the epilogue in the books, and many more people didn't like the name Harry and Ginny give their youngest son, but I love both because it's so sentimental and meaningful. The Boy Who Lived who wanted nothing more than a regular life finally got to live one. I thought the movie portrayed this scene quite well. As our three heroes get their kiddos ready to board the Hogwarts Express, we get to see these beautiful characters we've watched grow on screen across the last decade act as parents. They are now sending their own little ones to the place that started it all for them and the magic is about to begin again. It's never over, it's just about to be experienced in a new way! Kind of like when you finish a book series and decide to start it over.

And then I never stopped crying, ever.

But seriously, the way I feel about this movie is almost indescribable. I've never really taken the Harry Potter movies very seriously as films before because the adaptations were never up to par with my expectations. I can say with this one, a film that blew my standards out of the water with what it achieved, I feel very different about it. I can't verbalize what it means to me to have a movie adaptation of a series finale that I approve of so triumphantly like this. It was everything I could have hoped for. All I can really say is I am so grateful to be in this generation where I got to catch the books being released and I got to wait for the movies to come out, and I got to share all of this with my best friends and my husband. I am just so thankful. It's something that will always be special to me and something I hope to experience in a new way with my kids someday!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Midnight Showing: Deathly Hallows pt 2

This is the week all Harry Potter fans have been waiting for. It's officially the end and my friends and myself have been preparing ourselves all week long. I reread the last part of the book (ending in tears and a serious Snape Character Analysis blog post) and watched all of the first six movies. Others of my friends told me they watched interviews, listened to soundtracks, and did a little pre-premiere crying. It was an emotional time for us all, because let's face it. Goodbyes suck. Especially when it's saying goodbye to something that, for so many, has been a major constant for over eleven years. Many HP fans have never imagined a life without Harry. It's hard to come to terms with something like this. That's why my group of friends wanted to do this last midnight showing up right! Behold the costumes and celebration!

Justin and I went as Snape and Lily. Yes... a walking spoiler. WHATEVER! :)

My best friends Mel, Rocky, and Ashlie. Rocky has a doe patronus on her shirt and it says "Always." Cue tears forever!

Melissa is our very own SlytherDor. Hah!

Here we have my Caty Gryffindor with her new hubby, Justin. I dressed him in those glasses and that tie.

Here we all are waiting in line. 2nd in line, in fact!

There were some Starkids there!
Me and my love, my love, my love.

In our seats! "What the devil is going on herrrrrrre?"

Meagan and her precious husband, Eric, made shirts. SO cute. Hers says "I heart HP" and his says "But I AM the chosen one." Love that quote!
Justin and I were so excited for the film to begin (we met because of Harry, after all)! We had great seats.

 THEN, the movie began and we all ugly-cried for a good two hours.

My tears washed the make-up off even my forehead. How does that happen? It was the most heartbroken I have ever been during a movie. It was beautiful, tragic, overwhelming, and wonderful. When we got home, the girls and I collapsed on the floor together. That's us, no make up left... especially me. Gross. 

I've never in my life boo-hooed during any movie ever like I did during the last Harry Potter. It was every thing I could have hoped for. And it was even better because I got to experience with all my best friends and my husband, who all understand just how important and wonderful the series really is. I love you all! And I love you, Harry. Review to come soon!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Character Break-Down: A Defense of Snape

Beautiful fanart

It's taking me a long time to wrap my head around what exactly I want to say about Snape because I have so many feelings! I feel like he's one of the best characters ever, and I really adore him, but I know there are those people who still have reservations about him. So I have decided to dedicate a post to defend some of the things I've heard said against Snape since the end of The Deathly Hallows.

How you feel about Snape is usually based on whether or not you think he is a good person so it becomes an argument of action vs intent. One of the main complaints I've heard about Snape is that, even though he ended up willingly putting himself in danger on a daily basis in order to help save the world, in his core he is a selfish character. While I won't say that is wrong, I will have to say that I don't think that makes him a bad person and many things he did later on in his life out-weigh this flaw.
So overall it's stuff like this:
  • He wanted Lily to be like him
  • He was awful to Lily
  • If he loved her then why did he hurt Lily's friends and her sister?
  • He doesn't belong with Lily
  • Snape is mean to Harry
  • He takes out his hatred for James on Harry
  • Snape is selfish
My issue with all of these things is that most of them don't take into consideration what has happened to Snape, how he was raised, and basically what his life was like. Not to make excuses for him, but let's just think about the evolution of Snape. He had a terrible home-life as a child. His parents fought all the time and his father was critical and hateful. He couldn't wait to get out of the house so he didn't have to be around them anymore (DH 667). This was a child that was not brought up being loved or tended to properly. He had shabby clothes, he wasn't well put together because his parents didn't give him the attention he needed. I think one of the most heart-breaking passages that Jo writes, in my opinion, is where she describes James in comparison to Snape:
"...slight, black-haired like Snape, but with that indefinable air of having been well-cared for, even adored, that Snape so conspicuously lacked" (DH 671).
This child didn't know what it felt like to be loved, and therefore never learned how to do it the right way. Did he love Lily selfishly, yes, but he didn't know any other way to do it. Not to mention, kids at this age and throughout high school are always selfish. I don't see that as being something to really hold against Snape's character to the end.

In fact, I don't think he even realized how flawed he was in love until he raced to Dumbledore to ask for him to protect Lily from Voldemort. When he revealed to DD that he asked Voldy to spare Lily when going after the child, DD said "You disgust me... they can die, as long as you have what you want?" (DH 677). I don't think Snape had ever thought of this before, that it's more important to let her have her happiness without him, than for him to have his happiness in expense of hers. It is here that I believe for the first time Snape understands true love and makes an active decision to be selfless towards Lily, aware that even if she survives he won't have her, but that's ok. Her life and happiness is more important. "Hide them all, then... keep her -them- safe. Please" (DH 678).

Some will argue that Harry had the same loveless upbringing and he didn't turn out like Snape. However, Harry inheritted thousands of galleons and when he came into the wizarding world he was well-known and popular at school and made friends easily. Plus he had the Weasleys and a ton of other mentors that took him and loved him, took an interest in him, and guided him (not saying Harry would have turned out badly without them but he did have them). I am not saying Harry’s life was easy; we all know is sucked, but Snape didn’t have any of these things. He was poor, he remained poor, and unloved. He was not popular and hardly anyone liked him. Not to mention, Harry had abilities that allowed him to join sports while Snape didn’t, which again, helped Harry gain popularity where it did not help Snape. Honestly, you can’t pretend Harry and Snape’s paths were exactly alike. They were not. (In the end, I would say the reason Harry turned out so well was because he is so much Lily. Lily always seemed to know right from wrong and followed it as best she could.)

So let's travel back to Snape's school days. Did he hope that Lily would end up in Slytherin? Yes, of course he did. But I think his desperation and intensity towards her came from fear of losing her to the Marauders, to his arch enemies, and not really from the houses that separated them. Also, I think it's unfair to say that Snape actively chose evil as a student. First of all, he was much too young to have truly formed a complete view of politics and ideologies. From his experience and his perception of the hateful world around him he felt his friends in Slytherin were the right way to go. He was bullied by the so-called "brave and courageous" Gryffindors, who ganged up on him over and over. To him, they were the bad guys. Children who are bullied usually fall in with the wrong crowd because they seek acceptance, and in Snape's group of friends he felt accepted, he felt like a part of something, and finally he didn't feel helpless. What his friends did to others was certainly no worse than what the Marauders did to him, in his eyes. And didn't Lily hang around the Marauders (stated as Snape would have reasoned)?  He wasn't choosing evil, he was choosing what he felt was anti-all the things that brought him pain.

(And can we just take one second and remember that Dumbledore made really stupid plans when he was a young kid, almost exactly like Snape, but then made a complete 180? I don't usually understand how the same people who rake Snape across the coals for this part of his life can praise Dumbledore like these two characters didn't share this motif in their youth.)

If he wanted to persuade Lily that his side was the right side, that it was at least no worse than what her fellow Gryffindors did to him on the daily, I see no fault in that. The error in judgment of choosing his friends was obviously in his naivety and bitterness and thirst for acceptance. It was not that this was just a bad kid. Plus, what's wrong with him trying to get Lily to see his side, when she also tried to change his perception to her own? They're really doing the same thing, the difference is just that we know how it turns out, that Snape was on the wrong side at first.
The true issue I think people have is when Snape uses phrases like "I won't let you-" when speaking to Lily. This controlling, desperate side of Snape emerges when he feels most threatened to lose her. The characters that make him feel the most like that are Petunia, Sirius, and James which is why he lashes out at them (not to mention they all treat him like excrement). When Petunia is taunting Snape and a branch falls on her (DH 668), I don't think he meant to do it to her. I think, like Harry at that young age, he couldn't contain his anger. Just like later on, after years of enduring James and Sirius, he lashes out in the middle of them TORTURING HIM and causes the breaking point in his and Lily's relationship (OotP 643-648).

We all know he wishes he could take that moment back, and yet it happened because he couldn't contain all the pain, embarrassment, and anger. (Just a side note, I just re-read "Snape's Worst Memory" and it is 100 times worse than I remember it. James and Sirius must have used 7 hexes against him, including one that had him choking on soap. And he didn't even have his wand! Just AWFUL.) I think that moment is Snape's worst memory because he allowed the people he hated most, the people he worried would take Lily from him, to bait him into ending his relationship with her himself. I also think this is where most of his self-loathing comes from. I do not think these things mean he was awful to Lily as much as he was just misunderstood and completely misplaced his anger.
Which leads us to the argument that "Snape does not belong with Lily." Do I think they should have ended up together? Well if they had, Harry Potter would never have existed. So there's a hard NO right there. Do I wish there was a way? In my heart of hearts, yes, because I wish Snape could have been happy. I mean he deserves it; he had such a miserable life. But seriously, my argument is not about me thinking they should end up together, because I don't. I do, however, think there was much more of a chance of it happening than many realize.

One of the justifications of James' hatred for Severus is that Severus was into the Dark Arts, claiming their relationship mirrored the relationship between Harry and Malfoy. This is just a crap argument because we see first hand in the Pensieve, in book 5, James' and Sirius' atrocious actions (And it wasn't a biased interpretation of that scene. It was exactly what happened. The pensieve doesn't show biased perceptions. It shows exactly what happened, which is why it's so reliable and why DD uses it. And if it had been tampered with, we'd notice because it would be warped like Slughorn's memory in book 6). Harry never would grab Ron and seek out Malfoy to bully and humiliate him in front of an entire group of people. In fact, it's absolutely the other way around, making Snape the Harry figure in this scenario. The only times Harry and Ron ever seek out Malfoy are times when they wanted to confront him on something they believed he had done wrong, not for a sick ego trip. So, no, the Dark Arts were NOT why James and Sirius went after Snape, time after time.
"How come she married him?" Harry asked miserably. "She hated him!"
"Nah, she didn't," said Sirius.
"She started going out with him in seventh year," said Lupin.
"Once James had deflated his head a bit," said Sirius.
"And stopped hexing people just for the fun of it," said Lupin.
"Even Snape?" said Harry.
"Well," said Lupin slowly, "Snape was a special case for James" (Ootp 591).
James picked out Snape, not just because James was an egotistical prick, but also because James Potter felt threatened by Severus Snape. Severus was a very close friend with Lily, the girl James fancied. He wanted to make Severus look weak and stupid in comparison to himself, so he humiliated him and cut him down, hexed him and tried to show him up. There are moments in "The Prince's Tale" that I am sure I can breathe more relevance into than actually exists there when it comes to finding textual evidence to support Lily having feelings for Snape (such as "The intensity of his gaze made her blush" [DH 674]), but nothing makes me feel there was something between Lily and Snape more than this fact: James was afraid there was something there. 
And so their rivalry continued. Snape could never shake the hatred for the person that not only treated him worse than garbage but also stole the love of his life from him. And honestly, if someone treated me like James treated Snape, I would hate them forever, too. There would be no way I would ever be able to see through what James had done to me and understand that he may have grown up, changed, and was no longer the person who choked me with subs and hung me upside down with my underwear exposed. I would never be able to not associate him with the pain and anger of losing the one person on Earth I ever really loved. This was Snape's reality.

Therefore, when a newly spawned version of James walks into Hogwarts, it's no surprise that Snape reacts negatively towards him. Harry looks just like Snape's old nemesis, and he does break the rules like James, leading Snape to believe he is just like his father. And of course, Snape projects a lot of his own anger onto Harry. It's not fair of him to do that, but Harry doesn't usually make it easier on Snape, either. Yet despite their differences Snape continuously protects Harry. He was bitter and destroyed; Harry was like all his regrets, his mistakes, and the memory of the woman he lost to his greatest enemy personified. There was so much conflict within Snape every time he interacted with Harry, and yet he risked his life every single day to keep doing it.
The argument I will never understand is the one that state's Snape is selfish because he only helped Harry because he loved Lily, that it wasn't a sacrifice because he did it for selfish reasons (seriously wtf). Maybe I could understand this logic if he only did it so he could get back with Lily, but Lily is DEAD. There is no pay off for Snape. NONE. Not even the knowledge that one day everyone will know what a great sacrifice he made when it's all said and done, because the only man who KNEW he was a double agent, putting his life on the line every day, had to be killed. BY HIM (which can we take a moment and talk about what an enormously loyal person you would have to be to agree to kill your friend at their request? I mean COME ON).

There was no pay off. So someone explain to me how that makes Snape a selfish being in what he actively chose to do everyday for Harry and for the fight against Voldemort. Did he always do it with a cheery smile on his face? No, but I think we've established through what I've written that it was never in the cards for Snape to be a happy, cheerful, or loving teacher. He did what he had to do fiercely and methodically, every day suffering through the pain and regret Harry and Voldemort reminded him of. He wasn't always the nicest person, but no where does it say you have to be a ball of sunshine to also be a sacrificial and selfless person.
Which brings me to my final theory and thought. Throughout six books Snape and Harry are thrown together and have to deal with each other nearly every day. Snape sees Harry as James constantly. However, I believe in the 7th book (this is after the fan-favorite "Always" moment), having not seen Harry in the halls of Hogwarts every day, getting some space from the constant reminder of James, and only hearing about Harry's actions through Phineas Nigellus, Snape begins to realize that Harry is more like Lily. I believe in that last year of being away from him, he softens towards Harry. Does he grow to love him, I don't know. I don't think so. But I really think Snape forms some positive feelings for Harry. Since Snape has such a low opinion of James, for him to believe Harry will do what he has to do (knowing full well that Harry will be told to sacrifice himself), Snape has to believe Harry has more of his mother in him than of his father, in the end. Snape is bitter, wounded, and stubborn, but when he got the distance he needed from Harry to see the good things about him, I think Snape did.

I don't know if I achieved what I wanted to achieve with this post, turning any Snape haters out there to Snape lovers, but hopefully I made it easier to understand and sympathize with his character. Either way, I think this is at least true about my entry:

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Harry Potter Jewelry: "I open at the close"

 In honor of the last Harry Potter movie coming to theaters this week, Rocky and I got together and made some pretty sweet Snitch jewelry! We're sufficiently prepared, now, to enter the theater looking pretty fly.

All our supplies.
These wings are just waiting to be attached to their golden counterparts.
Jewelry tools! Rocky is the jewelry wizard, I just follow her lead.

Hard at work!
TA-DAH! Earrings. 

We made a few pairs and a few necklaces.


Friday, July 1, 2011

TV Reactions: Wilfred

It's been a week since Wilfred premiered on FX. Turns out, it was the biggest comedy premiere in FX history! Exciting stuff, especially because I was seriously anticipating this show. The premise was so intriguing, Elijah Wood is in it, all the promos were hilarious. All of this led me to have high expectations, which is really dangerous. However, if all worked out, no hopes dashed. Wilfred is good!

One of the things I have really loved so far is that at the beginning of each show there is a famous quote that has to do with the title of the episode. (Ok, it's because I'm such an English nerd that I love that so much.) This is just a small example of how smart the show is. Not only has the show managed to explain, pretty logically, why there is a man in a dog suit starring in this show, but they've been able to make it laugh-out-loud hilarious, while also dealing with some pretty serious themes such as friendship, loyalty, self-awareness, and happiness. The writing is just brilliant. I was pleased with the pilot; it got me hooked in. Then, last night's episode was surprisingly better than the first, by far. I wish there was a more interesting way to say this but, truly, I couldn't stop laughing!

I'm notorious for watching things that my favorite actors are part of and loving it regardless of quality, so I was really worried that I would have my Elijah-goggles on for this show. I had to test the show out on my husband. When he got home from hanging with the boys, I cued up the DVR and watched the second episode with him. My stoic hubby couldn't contain his laughter. (And I am fairly certain he doesn't have Elijah-goggles to blind him.) Success! There is no way to deny how good the show is as a whole, and, as it turns out, I am not the only one to think so. The numbers for the first week held up quite well in this second week, too.

Wilfred has somehow completely surprised me, despite the high-hopes I held for it. At risk of sounding like a fangirl, I have to say it's even stranger, funnier, and just better than I could have expected. I cannot wait to see more!