Small World

The kids are alright

"There's always something different in every one," 8-year-old Esmeralda says of the best-selling tales. "My favorite is the third book because Harry finds out he had a godfather, and I thought it was really nice that he had a relative."

Thus began Saturday afternoon's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone onslaught. The line at the Cinerama for the 12:50 p.m. show—advance tickets all, mind you—ran down Lenora and on around the corner of Fifth until it just about reached Blanchard, a block down. People came equipped with chairs, blankets, and backpacks stuffed with the necessary distractions—food, drink, and cards, as well as clutched copies of the other Potter books.

A couple of parents were discussing their mild disappointment that all the eventual film versions would rob kids of the joys of their own imagination. Esmeralda was holding her copy of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth in J.K. Rowling's phenomenally successful series; the thick hardback may have been fighting her tiny body for dominance, but it quickly became apparent how on top of it she is. Esmeralda and her friend, fellow 8-year-old Dylan, were excited about young Harry and Hollywood's handling of him, but they were taking it in stride. Nimble discussions amongst themselves about other fantasy novels—Norton Juster's classic The Phantom Tollbooth, the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, The Lord of the Rings—proved that while children can be entranced, they can't be fooled.

"The book was more interesting," Dylan says as she dismisses the animated version of The Hobbit. "There was too much singing."

The movie of Sorcerer's Stone, it turns out, is song-free and cute and considerate but can leave you contemplating all the fuss. You keep waiting for some big, dazzling moment of wonder, some sense of walking through the doors of a black-and-white world into a colorful Oz, and it never really happens. You hope, as their parents do, that the kids will remember the thrills they got from reading.

Dylan and Esmeralda nod happy, emphatic approval after the screening, then launch into reminders about what the movie left out and take guesses about how the special effects were achieved. But wasn't there some disappointment, you want to ask, in the magic not found in the film? Hasn't Hollywood flattened it all out a bit? Aren't you miffed at what's missing? No need to worry.

"A lot of the times it's different," Dylan explains.

swiecking@seattleweekly.com

 
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