My family doesn’t go to the theater often; the kids might go to a movie with friends a couple times a year, and a parent might go with a child if there’s something they both want to see. But a family outing happens maybe twice a year in a good year, and only if there’s a decent movie. More often than not we go during spring holiday or over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday.
And yesterday was that day; we took off on the spur of the moment to see the seventh and penultimate installment of the Harry Potter series. As expected, their dad fell asleep about half way through the movie as he usually does; I can’t think of a movie we’ve seen as a family when he didn’t doze off, so it’s not a critique on the movie. It’s probably the only time he’s sitting still in the dark during the afternoon, and with his belly full of popcorn head bobbing is inevitable.
But the kids were rapt with attention, even though this particular movie was more mature thematically just as the characters were more mature. And I guess that’s why I found this movie bittersweet.
My kids have been growing up right along with Harry, Ron and Hermione, and like these young adults beginning to fledge and face risks on their own, so are my kids.
It didn’t hit me until we saw the portion of the movie in the trailer I’ve embedded here, which is one of the nicest pieces of editing in the entire movie. My daughter would fit right in with the three characters sitting at the table in the diner; my son could just as easily be zoned out listening to his iPod just as the waitress is in this clip. . . .
Maybe it was one of those moments that a mother might recognize, like a light turned on suddenly. (Perhaps quite literally, since my husband was dozing at that point in the movie…) But I suddenly remembered that the first book of the series was released just before my son was born; the first movie in the series was released when my son was starting preschool and my daughter was in early grade school, and was one of the first movies we saw as a family together.
Quite literally my kids can’t remember a time when there wasn’t Harry Potter.
Don’t get me wrong about J. K. Rowling’s books and the related movies. Although they’ve read all the books and seen all the movies, my kids aren’t complete Potter-philes and would find going to the opening night at midnight completely ridiculous, even if they do have friends who’ve done so. But the series is a cultural touchstone for them; it’s something they share with kids overseas their age as well. I’m sure my son has already chatted about the movie with a friend who lives in Korea. I wonder what this series will have done to my kids and their cohort, here and abroad, and if we’ll ever see another cultural phenomenon like this one.
I can remember seeing movies during the holiday season with my own parents as a kid. They stand out in my mind like signposts, perhaps because they broached issues we might not otherwise have talked about at home. “Fiddler on the Roof“, for example, made accessible all manner of topics from religion and culture to parenting and modern European history. Some years were not quite as good for discussion; my family and I split our movie viewing experience the year that “Blazing Saddles” and Franco Zefferelli’s “Romeo and Juliet” reached our theater. I went in one direction, armed with a box of tissues, and they went in the other; when the movies were done, my parents and siblings emerged laughing and I was there, puffy-eyed and sniffling but sated.
Perhaps now I should mark in my calendar fifteen years out from now to ask my kids what they remember from one of the last movies we may see together before one of them graduates from high school and leaves for college. I figure we only have about three more holiday-season opportunities to watch their father drift off into a rather expensive popcorn-enhanced nap while we enjoy our family movie time together, mother and children together.
Did you get to the theater this holiday? Do you have plans to see a movie between now and the end of the year? Do tell here in comments.