MovieBob - Intermission
Harry Potter and the Little Golden Man

Bob "MovieBob" Chipman | 15 Jul 2011 16:00
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But looking back on it with clear eyes, the sheer magnitude of Potter's production is something approaching a Hollywood miracle and an example of a unprecedented creative risk. The phenomenon of the books was at an all-time high when the first film was greenlit, but it was very uncertain that they'd remain popular or even remain good - Rowling hadn't even finished half of the series by that point!

The entire main cast would be young children, difficult enough to cast well on their own, but these children would have to show enough early talent to still work as they aged alongside their characters. If you'd proposed such a hugely unpredictable long-term risk to the likes of Louis B. Mayer, you'd be lucky to leave his office alive. And what about the kids themselves - and their parents? What would you say if, with your age still in the single digits, you were asked to commit the next decade of your life to a single job of make believe?

Committing to make Harry Potter meant that the studio, the producers, the actors, the investors - everyone - had to sign up for a hugely time consuming (hell, life consuming!) expedition with a half-completed map and an extraordinarily unclear goal. There had never, ever been a production like this is the entire century-plus history of filmmaking, and that I can't in good conscience follow that statement up with the expected "and there never will be again" is the ultimate testament to the final impossible fact of the whole story:

They did it.

An entire story of a fictional character's life - and the lives of his friends, family, associates and enemies - told from childhood to young adulthood. With the same (save for one actor's unfortunate passing) massive cast, in the same sprawling fictional world, spread across a dizzying number of locations and individual events in eight films over a period of nearly ten years. The makers of Harry Potter did nothing less than conjure an entire world, populate it with living beings and then film the unfolding results over a decade. The characters and their world have grown, aged and even died with unbroken linearity in front of a billion fans worldwide.

Even if you don't particularly care for this story or these characters, the scale of the project and the degree to which it has been a success versus the millions of ways it could've failed along the way cannot be denied. In terms of big budget franchise filmmaking, this is the circumnavigation of the globe. This is Edison and the light bulb. This is the Wright Brothers taking off.

Harry Potter is modern Hollywood's moon landing.

If that doesn't scream Best Picture nomination, I don't know what does, except that it's almost a given that as a standalone feature, Deathly Hallows almost certainly won't end up as the best film of 2011. And while it's not unheard of for actors to receive nominations and awards suspected more to honor a "lifetime" of work rather than the role they're technically listed for, it doesn't happen often for features.

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