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Case Number 19861: Small Claims Court

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The Seekers Guide To Harry Potter

Reality Entertainment // 2010 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Sandra Dozier (Retired) // October 7th, 2010

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All Rise...

Judge Sandra Dozier wonders exactly what someone would be seeking within this uneven fan effort.

The Charge


The Case

Based on the book of the same name, author/writer/producer Dr. Geo Trevarthen is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, and describes herself as a fan of the Harry Potter series of books and a preserver of Scottish and Irish magical traditions. As such, her book and the documentary production of The Seekers Guide to Harry Potter is a personal labor of love. She discusses parallels between the fictional world of Harry Potter and the real-world mythology that inspired it.

Trevarthen covers several topics within the 75-minute running time. Part one opens with a walkthrough of Edinburgh, her home city and the city in which author J.K. Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book. Trevarthen shows off some of the character of the city and settings that may have inspired Rowling. As this segment has little or no narration, it makes for a slow introduction. Part two picks up a little, as she begins to discuss some of the overt symbolism of the characters and events in the book, such as the numerology Rowling favors. Part three discusses the occult/magick influences, including the "winged disk" image of the snitch. Part four focuses on the final novel and has an interesting part about the fable the kids read about in the beginning, where the three brothers cheat Death and how they choose to use the wand, stone, and invisibility cloak they receive as a "gift." Part five breaks down the Hogwarts houses and their mystical meanings. Part six talks about the psychological aspects of the events and settings in the series. Finally, part seven is a traditional "moral of the story" discussion—basically, that Harry Potter teaches us to love well and do good.

Unfortunately, what sounds good on paper does not translate well to the screen at all. The Seekers Guide to Harry Potter is at times tedious and too often uncomfortable to watch. The audio volume ranges from too quiet to overloud, with vocal quality either mushy or shrill, depending on how much background noise is interfering with being able to even hear Trevarthen speak. The music can be so repetitive and loud, even over speaking parts, that it is almost seizure-inducing; I have trouble with it the way some people cannot take repeatedly flashing lights. Finally, there is far too much visual filler in this production, from sweeping views of empty fields to Trevarthen engaging in slow-motion sword dancing and shamanistic ritual. The music swells, the minutes stretch on, and the viewer is quite cranky by the time the narration resumes.

I was also disappointed by the uneven content presented. Although the structure of information is sound, and Trevarthen does discuss some interesting ideas and parallels, very little of it is news to the average fan, even a casual fan like me. Much of the narration is either dryly intellectual or obvious to the average fan of Rowling's books and movies. Fortunately, Trevarthen does take the time to discuss and support what she is presenting, and does not rely on gimmicky and tired "revelations" (like the Mirror of Erised containing the word "desire" spelled backwards) to sensationalize, but for the 20% that might be interesting or novel, there is 80% of "ho-hum" to dig through.

I viewed a screener, so I did not see any DVD packaging, and cannot guarantee the final release will have the DVD menu I saw, but it was very simple, with just a chapter choice and an option to play the main feature. Immediately preceeding and following the show were several Reality Entertainment trailers for other features, and there is one extended scene presented as an "extra" at the end of the feature. The video transfer was good quality, but the video source material is another matter. Some of the video appeared washed out, with bleeding color, even though it was recorded recently. The outdoor shots fared better, some with vibrant colors and a clear transfer. The audio was, as previously mentioned, all over the map. Loud in some places, quiet in others, and so much background noise that sometimes you couldn't hear Trevarthen speak. Much of this was due to the source, not the transfer. As an example, an early segment of the narration was doneoutside at a busy event, with many of her words drowned by background noise. Without some sophisticated equipment, even a perfect transfer can't fight that problem.

The Verdict

Skip this, unless you loved her book enough to see the person who made it and hear some additional thoughts. With all the filler and the unreliable production value, perhaps the money is better spent on the book that inspired this documentary.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 65

Perp Profile

Studio: Reality Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Alternate Scene

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