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Filmism.net Dispatch October 16, 2012

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Look, for the last time (because I read someone extolling the virtues of Harry Potter again this week), can we just agree that the whole Potter story is Star Wars prepackaged for a new generation?

Just look at the story arc, right down to individual beats and motifs. We meet a young boy with a dead-end life who doesn't realise the greatness he's destined for because of the forebears he never knew. He's taken off to a magical land and shown the ways of mystical powers thanks to an elder father figure and mentor who'll love him like his adopted family never really did.

He'll meet friends along the way and battle a dark-hearted despot who wants to rule the world, a man to whom he's inextricably linked in a way he can never imagine. The elder then dies in action when the young hero needs him most, a popular literary metaphor for us all having to become a man (such stories of adventurism are seldom about women) without the loving guidance of our father to protect us.

If Rowling was so openly ripping Star Wars off, she didn't even bother to change some the details to throw us off the scent. The trio of friends the hero finds himself consists of a man and a woman whose bickering betrays their attraction to each other they'll eventually give into. She's stoic and sensible where he's a buffoonish, comic figure.

The bat-like villains Voldermort and Darth Vader are both creatures who were once human but are now twisted into something else by hate and evil. They even share respiratory problems.  Then there's the lovable and hairy gentle giant (Chewbacca and Hagrid) who makes us all laugh but who will ultimately use his big heart to help save the day.

Of course, if you believe popular movie lore, Lucas himself stole liberally from sources across the entertainment and cultural continuum from Campbell to Kurosawa, so maybe this is just cyclical. Maybe in 2023 a bunch of Gen-Yers will take their kids to the movies to see the latest CGI action adventure blockbuster and snort derisively to each other 'this is just Harry bloody Potter all over again'.

In other news, I enjoyed films both young and old this week. You probably missed a taut little gem called Brake, and after the Oscar baiting Argo, there was no better guilty pleasure than the schlock grindhouse classic Love Camp 7.

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