Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Signs of What is to Come!: new blog site, updates coming, and a new vision

For the benefit of a neu-creation in the blogosphere, Freewheelin' Vertigo will soon be departed by its ever loving companion piece "The Middle Aisle", which has found a new home on Tumblr at ! You can now check out the latest film related posts by Eric Wilkinson at this site, while still continuing to get posts on this blog as has been the case since Summer 2008. I plan on continuing both blogs with the same kind of attention (perhaps moreso now) that I have been giving a single blog for the last 2 years.

One can expect crossovers to happen from time to time, to generate buzz and whatnot; but predominately will carry all of the Middle Aisle's normal editorials: rewind review, middleaisle critique, and cinematix.

Also, as a very nice feature of TUMBLR, you can ask me questions along the sidebar- which can also be requests for reviews you'd like to see, film related questions, and personal appeals in the world of cinema.

The Freewheelin' Vertigo page will be recieving some new additions as I will be soon adding links to youtube updates, and portfolio projects across the net! I hope that all of my followers will continue to support this blog, as you have in the past, and that this would be a step into a future of new possibilities!


The Staff

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Midaisle Critique: Potter 7 part 1: The Passing Flames of Previous Tensions

"These are dark times, there is no denying"-Rumeus Scrimgeour
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
Director: David Yates (HP 5 and 6)
Starring: The Potter Crew plus a few new faces

Its hard to imagine that the Harry Potter saga is finally coming to an end. With a series that began with the publishing of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the US) nearly 13 years ago, the final film of the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" begins its first installment, with a second to appear next summer. The series, much like the Beatlemania of the 1960s, has been a huge crossover success from Mother England in both the bookstore and the cinema.

Since 2001 we have watched as Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), and Emma Watson (Hermoine) have grown up before our eyes and become not only competent wizards; but emotionally conflicted young adults. The series grew ever more intensified as the innocence began to fade from the three young students, teaching them along the way the harsh realities of maturation, friendship, love, loss, hate, evil, and of course the combination of loyalty and respect. The truth is, that the Harry Potter series has never been about magic truly at all. The stories combine the clash between good and evil, showing that the lines sometimes blur, and the consequences can sometimes result in truly harrowing loss. I believe that over the course of 8 films, one can attribute the success of the story to the overwhelming idea of "journey".

While the film series has not always captured the spirit of the novels quite as well, there have been a few exceptions, namely films 3, 5, 6, and now 7.1. I provide these background thoughts as the basis for my argument, which is that the Deathly Hallows part 1 is a film for those who have grown up with Harry and co., and come out on the other side truly caring for the story itself. The film will offer little to those who are just now jumping on board; but with a series as longstanding as this one, it seems unreasonable that someone would start with the last film as the basis for their evaluation.

Some may call "part 1" a chronological piece without a true end; but to comment so lightly, would be to forget that it IS only part 1 of a two part series. Kill Bill vol.1 felt the very same way to me, as you knew where the story would be going; but were forced to reconcile the midway point in a clash of emotional strain. While I will not spoil the film for those who haven't seen it, it truly does set a middleground from which part 2 can build upon.

Book 7 is the only book in the Potter series that I actually took the time to read, and while that might sound strange- it was due to my viewing of the films that I got the urge to find out just how much more there was in the original novels. Obviously the depth of book 7 caused for great details to be shown in the final films; but there were obvious additions that would detract simply by the basis of their intuitive nature. Many great adaptions have done intuitive thought well; but in the context of Harry Potter 7.1, it just would cause greater confusion than possibly good... especially for those who have never seen a single film in the series.

I was a bit deterred with the lack of discussion concerning Dumbledore, as the central narrative of Rita Skeeter's book, in the context of the novel, was so crucial to Harry's emotional distance and strain and so in that sense, I found the film to be missing a key piece; but as I stated in the previous paragraph, I am unsure as to how they could have included Harry reading chunks of the book while still moving the film forward. As we know, the films are much more focused on Harry's physical and emotional journey, and less concerned with the Universe itself, hence why several scenes involving He Who Shall Not be Named, were seen in the context of dizzying portals through Harry's connection with the Dark Lord.

I will say something rather obvious; but all the more necessary- the sexual maturity of the characters is seen in starkly new and continuing ways. These are the grown up children of Hogwarts who once surrounded themselves with magic candies, and parlour tricks; and who have now stepped out into the darkness of adulthood-carrying the weight of their responsibilities on their shoulders, and especially on their faces. I found this to be quite powerful, as you can literally feel the tension between the three main characters, who even when surrounded by the fantastic ensemble of  Britsh whos-whos, come across as real actors for probably the second time (first being the 6th film where the first roots began to show).

One thing that I really enjoy about these films, especially 5-7.1, is the surrounding environments and production designs that give the film a true prescience. As I watched the film, I began to think about how this world that I was seeing was not full of automation, nor was it full of kitschy cookie cutter businesses- instead you feel the world that they occupy is somehow better off in its strickly unmodern postmodernism. Its as if this is the world in which the contrasts of human emotions, and philosophies of that which we hold inside- became and continue to thrive in every element. This is a contrast, because how often do we fall prey to the monotony and continued desentized world surrounding us? How often do we see the environments and houses and people around us, and really/truly stop and think about those deeper questions that plague every human being? I suppose this Potter film brought out that realism in a much grander way than previous entries, where you knew that the film would be ending and that the story would be wrapped up- in this, it is not. I felt as though when the film ended that I desired to see more, and thus a cliffhanger clause can be applied to a film that already felt as though it could not complete itself. I however enjoyed the film, regardless of the open ending, and see it as the most plausible way to carry onto part 2.

While the 7th film would be much better off with the combination of part 2, I must say that I enjoyed the film from the standpoint of seeing the universe that has been built upon for the previous 6 films has finally found its footing in a maturity that can only be described as complete. The film itself could not work without the expansion into two parts, and thus I look forward to the conclusion next summer- which, to be honest, will probably be a much more satisfying film.