Sunday, July 15, 2007

The dark arts just got darker...

Quite rightly, museum curators believe that few visitors now recognise stories from the Bible or classical mythology. So to make art galleries user-friendly they place cards beside Old Master paintings, explaining their iconography and significance. Popular big-budget movies, however, make no such concessions. When you see the second or third episode of the Lord of the Rings, The Matrix and the Star Wars series, you're expected to be as familiar with their newly confected mythology as earlier generations were with the Wedding at Cana or Zeus's seduction of Europa.Thus the fifth Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, directed by David Yates, hitherto best-known for his distinguished work for British TV, and scripted by an American, Michael Goldenberg, who wrote the mystical SF movie Contact, begins in medias res, or more precisely in Little Whinging, Surrey. (There is, no doubt, a thesis being written called 'From Pooter to Potter: Suburban Life in British Literature'.) Our wand-waving hero, now 16, still wearing his NHS spectacles and with a six-o'clock shadow as noticeable as that of the teenage Richard Nixon, is spending another dreary holiday with his ghastly petit-bourgeois uncle and aunt, the Dursleys.

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