Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Spoiler Alert: Harry Potter, a Modern Holocaust Narrative?

Tell me this doesn't look like partisans running for dear life circa World War II ... 
So, there I was, sitting in the movie theater, at the 8:10 showing of Harry Pottery and the Deathly Hallows, minding my own business, and there's this woman, sitting a few rows up and over, telling some extravagant story, with her hands motioning wildly in the air. People are shushing here, telling her to be quiet, and there she goes, hands a'go in the air. So, being the mature adult that I am, I threw some ice at her. This stopped her talking, of course, and the rest of my time in the theater was excellent. I'd intended on writing a blog post on the premise that I like my movie theaters like I like my synagogues (quiet, quiet, quiet), but as the movie progressed, I realized there was something more interesting and pressing to write about.

The Holocaust.

I wrote in the title that this is a spoiler alert. I'm only saying that because I'm going to offer some details of the movie that might give things away. But I can't not write this blog post. It will eat away at me until you all go see the movie (or not), and maybe this will prompt some of you to head to your nearest theater. So let's begin.

I haven't read the Harry Potter books, but I've seen all of the movies. Up until this edition of the series, I hadn't really caught on to the overarching and ever-present looming Holocaust narrative. But this part of the series was ripe with Holocaust imagery, from propaganda to arm tattoos and more. The Deathly Hallows begins with a violent regime change, putting those of pure-blood wizard/witch status in full power. Muggles, that is to say, normal folk without any powers, are viewed as vermin, the lowest level of life form, and propaganda is dispersed about how to spot a muggle and what makes them vile. They must be registered, and ultimately are hunted down like animals. Harry Potter and his two BFFs make their way to the woods, where they hide out for much of the movie, running from Snatchers (people who seek out muggles and half-bloods) and trying to figure out how to save themselves and the world. There is a scene toward the beginning of the film where a woman is on trial, accused of not being a witch, and the woman -- I kid you not -- is styled perfectly with the 1940s, from her house dress to her pin-curl hair. Toward the end of the film, during a particularly heart-wrenching scene, Hermoine -- a half-blood -- is tattooed on her left arm with "Mudblood" by one of the major supporters of the violent regime change.

Wow. I know, right? It goes on and on and on. Here's a list of some things that I spotted that pretty much map out how this fits with the Holocaust narrative.

  • Muggles = Jews
  • Witches/Wizards = Nazis
  • Harry Potter + His Band of Noble Witch Friends = Righteous Gentiles, who fight partisan style from the woods
  • Hermoine = a half-Jew who has escaped to fight with the partisans
  • Voldimore = Hitler
  • And, I'm guessing, Dumbledor will come back Churchill style and save the day. 
I am still marveling at how this turned into a Holocaust narrative. And all of these examples are but mere, well, examples. There was a whole lot more. Harry Potter and Friends disguising themselves to pass as part of the regime, for one. Anyhow, the Holocaust narrative is strong with this flick. The righteous fighting for the safety of those not like themselves, while also trying to save the righteous who are fighting the just cause. And the arm tattoo!? Seriously!? And this was only Part 1 of the two-part final installment of the Harry Potter franchise. Personally, I'm razzle-dazzled to see how it's going to end. 

Did any of you see the movie yet? Did you pick up on this? Did it blow your mind like it did mine?