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Moviemania, Harry & Hobbits
By Hilary Williamson

I just sat through a live webcast of the World Premiere of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (known in North America as Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone; I guess philosophy is beyond us) in London, England. I know there were many other viewers as the webcast was choppy, with those dreaded 'net congestion' messages scrolling across the window on a regular basis. This premiere began a period (November 16th to December 19th) that will present to us two keenly awaited movies, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, based on books that have had enormous success and huge followings. In fact, Robbie Coltrane who acts the part of Hagrid, commented of the opening that he had 'not seen anything like this since Beatlemania'.

The webcast featured interviews with fans and stars, the movie's producer, director, and of course the author. J. K. Rowling answered the usual questions patiently. Much was made by the interviewer of the fact that Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry, was picked from a movie audience - this will give additional incentive for kids to pack the theaters! Not surprisingly, the young actor felt 'surreal'. Director Chris Columbus stated that he had had a 'true collaboration' with Jo Rowling, whom he regularly 'bombarded with questions', and that the film was 'a true labor of love'. He mentioned that Quidditch was complicated to present on screen and that it took six months to shoot. His favorite part of the film is the chess sequence, some of which can be seen in the latest trailer. Richard Harris, who plays Dumbledore, mentioned that it is a great time for magic, with the world in chaos, and John Hurt felt the movie represented an 'opportunity to beat the most impossible odds', something important to reinforce in these times.

Indeed this comment is true to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Both feature small, David-like heroes who battle Goliaths (Voldemort and Sauron, respectively), two Dark Lords of ultimate evil. Though I am hooked on Harry and anxious to see the first movie, I admit to an even greater anticipation of the initial Rings production. In the sixties, I was comforted and diverted by Tolkien's trilogy in a time terrorized by its own Damocles sword - the bomb and its potential for world destruction. Given the long struggle against terror ahead, I'm happy that my family and I can anticipate movie releases in both series on an annual basis ... we need much more magic here in Middle Earth.
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