exactly that

Posts tagged ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’

The Importance of Being Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix Lestrange, as portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter, a pale woman with a mop of dark, thick curly hair lightly tinged with strands of grey, smirking devilishly in a black dress with white embroidery, pointing her wand at her own face.It is odd the way that The Guy and I have these conversations…or maybe it is a sign that we watch our Harry Potter movies too much, but one night while viewing HPatHBP for appoximately the nonillionth time I turned to him during the Unbreakable Vow scene at Spinner’s End, and began the following thought train (all quotes should be presumed to be “air quotes”):

Me: You know, all of Snape and Dumbledore’s plans would have been shot if anyone at all would have listened to Bellatrix.

The Guy: No kidding! She never trusted Snape. Look at how she taunts him!

Me: It’s because everyone dismisses her as just being “insane”, you know.

The Guy: Because she was in Azkaban, you know, and it has “driven her mad”, so she obviously doesn’t know what she is talking about.

Me: Obviously.

See, I am not in anyway advocating for Team Voldemort or something. There is a great discussion on racism that can be had about the antics of the Death Eaters (and the dynamics of having that point made from a primarily White PoV) in another post, but more interestingly to me right now in this particular post is that Bellatrix was completely right in her mistrust of Severus Snape and his position beside Lord Voldemort. Her feelings go much deeper than mere jealousy (but why shouldn’t she be jealous, since she alone stood proudly, unafraid of the consequences of supporting Voldemort when others did not?) to a practical mistrust of someone who seemed to benefit all to much from a convenient and literal get out of jail free card.

We know that Bellatrix was described as having a personality that bordered on displaying psychopathic tendencies* (from a lay perspective), in that she showed little to no conscience. We know that her cold and callousness was often played up if for no other reason than to reinforce that Bellatrix was someone who was a little unbalanced. Her pride in being a “pure blood” was over the top to a “normal” person, and we are to presume that no rational person would behave the way that she would. So, no rational person would honestly believe that anyone would dare betray the Dark Lord. She goads people with baby talk and laughs at inappropriate times which all adds to the image of the mentally unstable woman who just can’t be taken seriously, but is tolerated for whatever reasons (in Bellatrix’ case, it is more than likely her undeniable talent and power. Even Death Eaters can’t look that gift horse in the mouth, mental illness or no!).

I am not a doctor, nor anyone qualified to make medical opinions about the fictional personality of Bellatrix Lestrange, but I do know that often in real life people who have mental illness, to any degree, are in fact taken less seriously than those who do not. They are dismissed in everyday goings on, dismissed when it comes to their own medical care, told they shouldn’t have children, told they are not suitable parents if they do already, and when they leave the room you had best believe that people snicker that “poor crazy Bellatrix is raving again”… The importance of Bellatrix Lestrange is that she represents real people…real women who exist — whether intentional on the part of J.K. Rowling or no — who have valid concerns in the world, and who can not get their voices heard because their mental illness (or any disability) creates a barrier between what they say and what others are willing to hear.

So J.K. was free to write this character, whose madness and temper were often mirrored in her own cousin, Sirius Black (interesting, no?), who could go on and on at will about Severus and how he was not to be trusted, how he was really going to betray the Dark Lord. Severus was able to rest easy through her rantings, knowing full well that no one was going to believe her, that his triple agent status was going to remain unscathed, because, after all, who would ever believe a crazy person, right? Voldemort might have been better served had someone actually listened to her.

But no one did.

Interesting, that.

I mean, I guess it is a good thing, both for Harry himself, and for the sales of books five through seven or so and the corresponding movies, since the story might have stopped cold had any of that happened. Something to consider, I suppose.

Oh, how I do love discussing Harry Potter.

*These descriptions I take mostly from the Harry Potter wiki.

Photo: The Harry Potter wiki

Cross Posted at FWD/Forward


The Importance of Being Ginny Weasley

HPatHBP came out on DVD (finally), and in a way that you can watch a movie in your own home and see things better than you can on the big screen (even in an IMAX, yo), I was able to get a better understanding of some of the things that rubbed me the wrong way about the differences between the book and the movie.

Ginny Weasley is, hands down, my favorite character of the younger HP crowd, the my all time favorite character quite possibly being McGonagall possibly followed by Molly Weasley. I should probably write a post someday explaining why I like Molly so incredibly much, especially when she has been criticized so sharply for being a throw away character for being a SAHM. /digressing

We only get to see snips and snatches of Ginny’s awesomeness. Thanks to the movie adaptations we get glimpses of her untapped potential — the witch she is going to be and the power and brilliance she herself doesn’t yet realize. The books do her slightly less justice, but only slightly. Ginny, possibly from being the youngest and only girl in a very large family of all boy children, has a spark in her (oh, right, the stereotype of the red haired girl!). She isn’t about to be pushed around by all of those older brothers, to whom she has made it clear that she are not to go prodding into her business.

And that includes the matters of her, well, sexuality. Part of what I enjoyed about Ginny is that she is written as a young woman who is aware of and unafraid of her sexuality. From an incredibly het-privileged setting Ginny explores her sexuality and enjoys it almost consequence free as far as I can tell from multiple readings. She experiences the embarrassment of the first crush, a rocky relationship, and deals out and is dealt a fair share of break up. True, Rowling, in the end, gives us the Happily Ever After of letting Ginny have the first boy she ever crushed on forever and ever, and there is fair critique of that, but sometimes in fiction…especially escapist or YA fiction, we don’t mind things that tie up nicely. I don’t speak for every other reader in the whole of the Multiverse, but for me, because of the tumult of the world that Harry Potter has taken us through, with real plots (that make sense *coughtwilightcough*) and depictions of war with characters that you have grown emotionally invested in over the course of seven lengthy novels (and more than one drop-kicked book), well, a Happily Ever After detail can add some salve to a harsh wound of your twin brother dying after you’ve lost your ear. /another digress

It is some of that romance with Harry that was altered in the HBP movie that irritated me. Where Ginny’s character gets a fair amount of healthy buffs in the screen adaptations of OotP that I don’t recall reading in the books:

Ginny Weasley points her wand off screen.

(one hell of a reducto)

Ginny holds her wand and looks at the floor, off screen.

Oh, shit. I think we are going to need a new practice mannequin over here…

I didn’t find this sly and seductive new Ginny that is introduced to us in HBP as enjoyable on screen as I do the confident, funny Ginny, the Quidditch team member Ginny, the fill in as Seeker Ginny. The brilliant, mind-your-own-business, “I do what I want” Ginny. I just didn’t feel like this was the same Ginny in the story…

There are, as The Kid — who is in the last third of reading PoA — pointed out to me, good differences to reading books, in that you get to know what the characters are thinking. Possibly the reason that we never notice that Ginny is subtly laying on the Ladycharmâ„¢ is because Harry is oblivious to it, like he has been of Ginny for five whole books. Or, perhaps the screenwriter thought that people would get bored with seeing Ginny bounce around the screen being Harry’s and Hermione’sm pal, telling a rowdy team to STFU and L to him. Ginny, who saves the day because Harry is a bit of a git who lets his temper get to him and his common sense falter leaving her to play Seeker, and then getting the kiss that Ron and Lavender totally steal (which was such a shamelessly self admitting *squee* moment in the book to me. STFU!).

(OK, this one I couldn’t resist…get it…she is like a fucking PPG, all saving the day on her broom and shit! [source])

That moment both ends the build up of Ginny’s five years of “well, I am not going to pine over someone who doesn’t want me” and Harry’s shifting, not quite defined feelings toward her (well, we know what that is called, but this is a PG-13 movie kids…). The movie…didn’t quite do that.

And COME ONE! Stuffing things in his mouth? Getting DOWN ON HER KNEES? Zuh? What kind of movie did I just walk into? *checks the back of the box* It still says PG-13… o_O

I loved the way the movie played up their shared connection over “listening to books that talk to you”, but the trip to the Room of Requirement was slow, awkward, odd…and while I liked parts of it, it just…left me feeling…WTF? There was more hype over Harry ZOMCC totally snogged Cho! But I was certain about a nonillion Harry/Ginny fanfic sprung forth when the sixth book came out…so I would think they could have done the first smooch some more justice…  /dogdammit another digress

It also just cut off the whole thing there. That was it. One smooch and we’re out of here. I hear we have two more movies to stretch it out and fuck up the story line some more (like, did anyone else catch that Ron totally joins the Quidditch team in OotP, not HBP, and was a returning member?), fudge some more non-battles, and maybe turn some characters I like into tropes I hate. Who knows?

Anyhow…I can’t keep this post focused. Depending on the aspects of Ginny’s awesomesauceness, one medium or the other is giving her some proppage. IMNSFHO, Rowling could have done more with her, and the screen writers for some of the movies could have been more consistent.

I know I have yet again written about some fiction that has a following, but I am counting on the fact that I have a readership under fifty to keep things tame in comments. Let’s see how that goes…

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