Cinematical Movie Club is your chance to watch movies with us and weigh in about your favorite films. At the end of each week, we alert you to the next week's film, and every Monday night, we run a discussion post where you can answer questions and offer up your own for further post-movie chatter.
There's an irresistible magic to the Harry Potter films. Through different directors, and different hands, the essence of the wizard world remains the same. The young Harry suffers regular life with the terrible Dursleys, before escaping to the magic and danger of Hogwarts -- a danger always more welcoming than his ghastly extended family.
But things changed with 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.' No longer was the cinematic tale about Harry's schooling -- the drudgery of life with the Dursleys leading way to the fall semester at school, and a year of danger before Harry triumphs in the face of the ever-growing power of Lord Voldemort. Bit by bit the clues descended that it was time to grow up, and to prepare for the far-off, yet inevitable battle with his enemy in 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.'
As we're inundated with clips and glimpses of Harry setting off to find the Horcruxes and bid adieu to his schooling, 'Goblet of Fire' becomes more of the first film in a new series. The first three films were the trilogy of Harry becoming acquainted with the wizarding world. The focus is on school and exploration, and though he, Ron and Hermione always seem to head off on their own to save the day, there are guiding hands helping them.
In 'Goblet' there's still some guidance, but for the first time, Harry has to truly rely on himself and start to grow up. It's noticeable from the first moments of the film as we don't see Harry leave the Dursleys for his fourth year at school. We're re-introduced to the world through ever-increasing danger. The start of the school year isn't nearly as important as the dangerous Quidditch outing that precedes it, and the Tri-Wizard Tournament that comes after. In fact, school is almost inconsequential. Harry's name is somehow thrown into the goblet of fire and he's essentially on his own. A friend might help him with a suggestion or two, but when it comes time to fight, Ron isn't there to hop onto a chess piece and Hermione isn't shouting bits of her effusive knowledge base.
Adults begin to fail Harry, becoming the perfect reason why he must deal with Voldemort himself, even if he is the chosen one. They aren't able to remove him from the tournament, even if he didn't enter his own name. It leads perfectly to Dumbledore's Army and the notion that the only ones who will truly help these kids are the kids themselves. It's not just Harry fighting the bad guys because it's a children's book of children's heroes, but because the wizarding world of fear and memories of Voldemort's first reign require it.
There are no truer words than the moment Hermione says: "Everything's going to change now, isn't it?" -- except that the change already happened. Harry got a taste of what was really to come, which was utterly solidified with the return of Voldemort -- his nemesis becoming a living "man" once again. (As much as any wizard with exacerbated snake features rising from the dead can be called a man.)
'Goblet' is also the start of a new thematic twist. What's pretty remarkable about J.K. Rowling's world -- outside of the sheer plethora of imagination required to create it -- is that she's not interested in all-too-convenient Disney-esque endings. Starting with 'Goblet,' really important and beloved people die, proving to be the ultimate wake-up call and jolt of maturation for Harry. Cedric Diggory's death sets off a chain reaction of epic loss in each of the coming tomes. In all of this fantasy and fiction, there's still a sense of real life. Magic might make the fight more spectacular, but it doesn't cushion the danger, and when fighting the most powerful dark wizard the world has ever seen, there is no deus ex machina to make things right. Lives will be lost.
- How do you feel about Mike Newell's treatment of the film, and how does it compare to the rest of the cinematic canon?
- Does the film miss something, by not starting out with the Dursleys?
- For fans of the books: Is there an essential plot point missing, or do you approve of the changes made for the feature?
- We finally see the new Voldemort in 'Goblet of Fire.' Is it the right look?