The Casual Vacancy Review

The Casual Vacancy; JK Rowling’s first dip into writing for the adult audience. It blew charts away,  being bought by millions and obviously earning her a fortune due to its £20 price tag. I must admit it was an interesting read, not something I would usually delve into but interesting still the same.

The book tells the story of the inhabitants of a small town called Pagford. When I say the inhabitants, I mean all of them. Every single citizen of this town seems to be included in some way and the reader is not only expected to know them by name but the follow the many strands of interconnecting storylines which link them. This was my main issue with the book, the sheer amount of characters which I did not manage to understand until about halfway through the book, and it’s a very long book.

CIMG0073

But putting that aside I’ll continue to tell you what it’s about. At the beginning of the story a man has a heart attack and dies. His name is Barry Fairbrother and he is a member of Pagford’s Parish Council, a very prominent member in fact. So prominent in fact that the first two hundred pages of the book are given to recounting people’s reactions at his death.

The rest of the book sort-of recounts how 4 people apply to get old Barry’s seat on the council, hindered by somebody who’s been posting revealing messages about the candidates on the Parish website. Guess who’s doing it! Barry Fairbrother’s Ghost (actually just some teenagers wanting to get revenge on their parents for God knows what).

In my opinion; the book is ok, hindered only by the sheer amount of characters that I mentioned earlier. I actually began to enjoy watching events unfold, from the teenagers; rebellious and insert adjective here, to their parents, fighting for their reputation. I would recommend it to Rowling fans, it’s an interesting read. The rest of you; go and read Harry Potter first.

The Graphic Art of the Harry Potter Films

Over the last few months, my passion for Harry Potter has been waning a bit. I think this has to be because of the fact that I did over-exploit both the films and books, and by that I mean constantly re-rereading and rewatching. This is sad for me because I am worried that my passion and enthusiasm for the stories will go and leave way to my recent most obsessions such as Cabin Pressure and Lord of the Rings.

However recently something happened that was just enough the restart that Harry Potter spark from within me!

I was searching the Internet for the latest news relating to Harry Potter when a review came up for a small exhibition going on in London and it just so happened I would be in London, in that very area on the week it was open.

IMG_1425

‘The Graphic Art of the Harry Potter Films’ was a collection of graphic props from the Harry Potter films. These included Posters, Magazine Covers and Potion Boxes. Although small (the gallery was only two rooms big), this was an excellent place to see some new designs I hadn’t seen before and some closer up (which I had seen in DVD extras and other stuff like that). Although nothing like the ‘Harry Potter Studio Tours’, this was a great place to see some of the film’s unseen but great graphic work.

Here are some of the great pieces which were on display.

CIMG9730CIMG9734IMG_1420

A very good display and I would recommend it to anyone who has the ability to go back in time to visit such things.

Harry Potter Studio Tours

Yesterday I got the pleasure of visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tours. It is a Harry Potter fan’s dream. The whole place was packed with sets, costumes, props and even interviews with the creators and actors of Harry Potter. In this article I will be running you through some of the best bits about my visit.

To start off (after the half hour wait to get in) you watch a few introduction videos, which tell you a bit about what you are going to see. You then go into one of the most highly anticipated sets. The Great Hall.

Just seeing this amazing and recognisable set is magic in itself, but there was also a great number of character’s costumes lining the walls.

Next you go into a huge room with a display of the different props and sets that were used. Among them were Hagrid’s hut, Hogwarts Gate, The Burrow Kitchen, The Gringotts cart, Harry Potter’s Dormitory, Tom Riddle’s Diary and many other wonders.

Also here was the set of Dumbledore’s Office. This was another example of the immense work and effort that went into the Harry Potter films. Every single memory bottle was hand labelled, and every book was leather bound individually.

Next was an outside area where we could view some of the outdoor sets including Privet Drive, The Knight Bus and The Hogwarts Covered Bridge.

The Last section of the tours shows us the other areas of creating Harry Potter. Here we say how the electronic props were made as well as the effort that has gone into designing and building the sets. Last of all we came to the Hogwarts model. This is a massive 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts. It has been used on the first six films (Deathly Hallows Part 2 was computerised) and has been made to minuscule detail. Every window has lights, every door handle was individually sculptured and even the weather vain was hand made out of bronze.

So that was the end of my tour. If any of you Potter fans haven’t seen it yet then what are you waiting for?

My top 5 Harry Potter Characters

Today I will be rounding up all the Harry Potter characters and choosing my favourite five.

5. Scabior

Although a rather minor character in the books I feel that his increased role in the last two films created a recognisable follower of Voldemort.

Scabior takes on the role of the leader of the Snatchers in the last two films and is the one who captures Harry, Ron and Hermione before leading them to Malfoy Manor. In the last film he can be seen during the battle of Hogwarts where he plummets to his death when the Covered bridge collapses.

4. Hagrid

Where would we be without this old fellow? Although slightly mad sometimes and supporting a worrying obsession with magical creatures, Hagrid has always been a sanctum for Harry, and plays a vital role in most of the stories.

3. Minerva Mcgonagall

I suppose the reason I like the character of Minerva Mcgonagall, is because she (after Dumbledore) is the main figure of authority within Hogwarts. She plays a big part in both the films and books but doing just enough to remain as a sideline character.

Her role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was significantly increased and she was seen in many scenes commanding the forces that were defending Hogwarts.

2. Lucius Malfoy

What is there to say about Lucius Malfoy! The Rich Death Eater, one minute striding in and out of the ministry, the next minute torturing Muggles. During his first appearances he portrayed such an image of grandeur and power until the last films where he was taken prisoner in his own house, scared of his own master.

1. Bellatrix Lestrange

And last but not least Bellatrix Lestrange.

This slightly mad and devoted follower of Voldemort appears in the last 4 books and last 4 films. I have to admit that when I saw he portrayal in the fifth film, I wasn’t that impressed however after the sixth, seventh and eighth films I was in no doubt.

She’s in no doubt my favourite character just for the bizarity of her actions and the lengths to which she will go to impress Voldemort. And of course her downfall during the battle of Hogwarts.

Mad about Pottermore

 I pride myself as being a great fan of Harry Potter. I have read the first book 16 times and the rest countless more times. I know nearly everything there is to know about the Potter universe and have memorised great chunks of the text.

So I, like many others, was very sad when the last film came out, as it marked the end of the time when I would always be looking forward to the release of the next book or film.

However I soon heard tell about a brand new, interactive Potter website which would be coming online at the end of the year. Its name, Pottermore!

And so I waited for this new site that would be coming open soon. And waited. And waited.

6 months later than promised. I was allowed in.

 Although annoyed about having to wait so long for them to fix a couple of server problems, I cannot deny that the chance to explore Pottermore was exciting. You emerge into a bright purple ‘Gateway’ filled with mysterious swirls and graphics which had obviously not come cheap.

As you explore the world of Pottermore you can see all parts of the story that you never see in the films and to an extent, the books either. Scattered along the way are objects, books and even specially written content by JK Rowling.

You also get a chance to be sorted into one of the houses yourself. GO GRYFFINDOR!

Trust me. Pottermore is amazing. Try it out.

And while you’re there, you can add me            ^^^^^^.

Pictures:

http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Pottermore

http://penpalthe.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/mad-about-pottermore/

http://io9.com/5831554/first-glimpses-inside-jk-rowlings-magical-online-world-of-pottermore