Saturday, November 20, 2010

Poem for Saturday, 'Deathly Hallows,' Wet Leaves

By Julian Hawthorne

Runs the wind along the waste,
Run the clouds across the moon,
Ghastly shadows run in haste
From snowy dune to dune—
Blue shadows o'er the ghastly white
Spectral gleaming in the night.
But ghastlier, more spectral still,
What fearful thing speeds hither,
Running, running, running
Swifter than cloud or wind?
What omen of nameless ill,
Whence coming, speeding whither,
Running, running, running,
Leaves all save fear behind?

Leaning, leaning in the race,
Breath keen-drawn through nostrils tense,
Fell eyes in ruthless face,
What goblin of malevolence
Runs through the frozen night
In superhuman flight?
See it run, run, run,
Outstripping the shadows that fly!
Hear the fiend's heart beat, beat,
Beat, beat, beat in its breast!
Running, running, running on
Under the frozen sky,
Fleet, so fearfully fleet,
Pausing never to rest.

Clutched—what is clutched so tight
In its lean, cold hands as it speeds?
Something soft, something white,
Something human, that bleeds?
Is it an infant's curly head,
And innocent limbs, gnawed and red?
Fleeter and yet more fleet
It leans, leans and runs;
Dabbled with blood are its awful lips,
Grinning in horrible glee.
The wolves that follow with scurrying feet,
Sniffing that goblin scent, at once
Scatter in terror, while it slips

Away, to the shore of the frozen sea.
Away! is it man? is it woman,
On such dread meat to feed?
Away! is it beast? is it human?
Or is it a fiend indeed?
Fiend from human loins begotten,
Hell-inspired, God-forgotten!
Now the midnight hour draws on:
Human form no fiend may keep
Or ever that mystic hour is told.
Lower, lower, lower it bends.
Midnight is come—is come and gone!
Down on all fours see it plunge and leap!
A human yell in a wolf’s howl ends!...
What gaunt, gray thing gallops on o'er the world?


As we have done for the past several films in the franchise, Gblvr and I met up bright and early -- before the movie theater complex doors were unlocked -- for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I enjoyed it a lot, which I know must sound like faint praise -- I was hyperventilating after Prisoner of Azkaban, and swooning at least a bit over Lucius Malfoy after Chamber of Secrets -- but it's definitely hard for me to evaluate Part One without knowing what will be included in Part Two. At first glance (and I'm seeing it again in IMAX on Saturday so I reserve the right to revisit everything I say), it's very well-edited and faithful to the book mostly in good ways while cutting out a lot of Rowling's excessive exposition dumps and redundancy, but there are certain explanations I've been waiting for since the third movie that have still never been committed to the screen, which make the entire movie franchise an incomplete adaptation if they don't show up in the last one...producing so many hours of film while still requiring viewers to have read the books to really get it is simply not fair.

I know I keep saying I'm not a huge trio fan, but at this point I can get more specific: I'm not a Ron Weasley fan. He's chickened out, freaked out, or stormed out on Harry once too often for me to take him seriously as the Loyal Friend -- fine, it's believable in a teenager but it makes me so frustrated that Hermione, whom I think is just awesome, wants to waste herself on him for the rest of her life. I know I said when I wrote about the novel of DH that the book finally turned me into a Harmonian, and the film just reinforced that. Spoilers: Harry and Ginny have no chemistry and no screen time together in which to develop it even if they did, and Hermione's crying over Ron just seems wrong to me. She and Harry don't exactly have sparkling romantic chemistry as themselves (though they're pretty hot together in Ron's Voldemort-fueled fantasy of the two of them together) but they balance each other in all the ways I value in relationships, they don't resent one another's strengths, they can make each other laugh. And because of the situation with Hermione's parents -- I love that they include the scene where she makes her parents forget her -- she and Harry understand the fear of being alone in a way I don't think Ron or Ginny ever will (not that Ron would try, being so stuck in his own head, and who knows what Ginny thinks besides wanting to marry the prince and be Quidditch Queen?).

Beyond that, I was frustrated in most cases at how little time the adult characters got until I reminded myself that really it was the actors I wanted to see, the characters got about as much time as was appropriate -- Bill Nighy is in the franchise so little that it's a cruel tease, and we get to see Alan Rickman fly like a malevolent dust storm to Malfoy Manor, and Imelda Staunton takes up more of Harry's time than Umbridge deserves. I don't think there can ever be enough of the Malfoy-Black family, I could have done with much more Isaacs-McCrory-Felton-Bonham Carter, but really their roles in the story are appropriate (Voldemort taking Lucius's wand is just an awesome moment, as are all their faces, especially Snape's, when Voldemort tortures Charity Burbage. I started to say that I wished there had been more David Thewlis too, but I utterly loathed Lupin and Tonks both in the book and they barely talk in the film, so I didn't resent them nearly as much! I thought Radcliffe and Watson gave very good performances that really show how much range they've developed since the earlier movies. And the animation for "The Tale of the Three Brothers" is wonderful -- creepy and otherworldly, a really nice insertion, as was the fairy tale in the novel.

Possibly more on DH tomorrow. The rest of my Friday was as delightful as getting to go to the movies first thing in the morning: Gblvr and I went to lunch at Tara Thai, and afterward we walked around a bit in the shopping area near Washingtonian Lake, including the pottery store which we discovered also does fused glass, the cupcake store where we agreed we'd better look not eat, and the accessory store Charming Charlie, which had moved in since we were last there (very inexpensive and fun jewelry, shoes, scarves, bags, sweaters, arranged primarily by color and in some cases by theme). Then I came home, fed the cats, fed the kids, took a walk, took a shower, and my dad came over for dinner (Merlot chicken and tofu by Paul) since my mother was out at a synagogue event.

I liked the Lois and Clark (and Oliver and Tess and Aquaman and Mera) aspects of Smallville, but was quite distracted by the Cylon references -- my entire family burst out laughing together at the end, when (spoilers) the resurrected Wilson appeared with the eye patch. I think the show is having trouble taking itself seriously if they're going to cast Michael Hogan as Wilson, imply that he's a robot, and put that eye patch on him. I actually preferred Sanctuary, particularly since it was full of Harry Potter links -- not just werewolves of London (well, England), and a better werewolf romance than Lupin and Tonks, but Tesla sulking when Helen won't flirt back while they work together and asking, "What am I, your house elf?" to which she replied, "Thank you Dobby!" Okay, enough blather. Here are a bunch of photos from Calvert Cliffs, Catoctin, and Huntley Meadows of autumn reflected in creeks and streams:

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