The Harry Potter Series
What The 'Harry Potter Series' Did Differently & Better Within The Fantasy Genre
By: Domonique Cox-Salberg
As a fan of fantasy for all my life, stories about magic, witches, wizards, hobbit folk, and mythological far away lands have given my imagination comfort, and joy. I had the pleasure of growing up on The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series, which would shape my current standards. I saw no other previous fantasy flick anywhere near as good as these two franchises, and I feel lucky that they were a part of my childhood.
I say this considering within the scope of the fantasy genre, works rely more on effects (usually low-budget) and spectacle than story and character arcs. However, Harry Potter is a part of the fantasy films that strive for more. So through one of its most pivotal character arcs, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), and the use of quality filmmaking techniques such as cinematography, the potter films transcended that predilection.
Severus: A layered Role For The Anti-hero Of Our Childhoods
Severus Snape is a character that wore many masks throughout the Harry Potter series up until the very end. To finally reveal his patronus to Dumbledore, in my opinion, the most poignant scene of the entire series. It was cinematic, impassioned, and capturing, and what the fans of Harry Potter and Snape’s role deserved. He began as the ‘other’ villain-like character in ever way one is. The way he looked, spoke, and carried himself all led us to label him a dangerous threat to Harry.
He fashioned shoulder-length black oily hair, pale skin, and donned flowing black robes to match his dark calculating, penetrating eyes. To match, he has a strong and authoritative presence and speaks in a soft, contained voice. With these things considered, it manifests into a demeanor that suggests he is encapsulated in an invisible shell to reveal what he wants to the rest of the world. Alternatively, what may be the most amusing thing, his characteristic long stares, and pauses when he is beyond bothered by a conversation, most notably with Harry and the students.
Benefits Of Creating Characters That Are Separate From The Spectacle
All this to say, the brilliant casting of Alan Rickman as Snape brought this role to life and proved fantasy can effectively produce sophisticated, and complex characters. His take on the ‘dual portrait’ of a man remains one of the most iconic features of the Potter series. Rickman and the director skillfully integrated a contrasted man who built a mirage of himself to protect the child of a man he hated, for the eternal love of his mother. To not let Lillian die in vain. And, in doing so, in a calm manner without overdoing the theatrics that can sometimes manifest in such a role.
Rickman’s amazing presence slowly dismantled Snapes many layers to aid in revealing his fierce intellect, brooding sensibilities, perseverance, courage, and the weight of pining a lost love. While remaining, the neglected boy turned man. And it was all done behind the scenes, a rare technique used in storytelling. Unlike other fantasy works, Severus is a character that was not overtaken by the magnificent and magical world of wizardry (insert any fantasy world); he was significant amidst the spectacle. He stood out. Garnered our sympathy and made us sincerely regret ever doubting his heart. The heart that has left a tender imprint on potter fans now and forever, and always.
For a breakdown of the cinematography and technical achievements presented in Harry Potter, please visit my super in-depth article covering its cinematography, lighting, direction, and narrative below.
My Note To The Reader:
How do you think the Harry Potter series measures up among other fantasy films in terms of its narrative, characters, or technicality? Do you agree with my character example in naming it among the best in the genre?