Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mickey the Israeli Children's Picture Book Magician (Not to be Confused with Mickey Mouse)

I finally got around to seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, having missed it in theaters when it was out this past summer. (One would think that being in a dating relationship would be an excuse to see more movies.) Impressive film on almost all counts. I do have two criticisms to make.

The majority of the film covers the final battle at Hogwarts as the school fends of an army led by Lord Voldemort with Harry's friends giving their lives to buy time for Harry to solve the mystery of the final Horcruxes, the pieces of Voldemort's soul. (Good thing there have been no body counts for every hour I fail to finish my dissertation.) For all the intensity of the moment the filmmakers fail to understand chaos and panic. We are fed numerous scenes with Harry, Ron and Hermione running through corridors; nothing wrong with playing out dialogue with characters moving between scenes of action. In the background, though, we are constantly seeing students running back and forth. The normal human reaction to danger is to duck and cover unless that danger is coming from a vary specific and identifiable direction, in which case people will run in the opposite direction. The Muppets react to danger by running back and forth across the screen. That is a different movie that came out this past week. (Perhaps I will convince my wife to take me to see that.)   

The climax of the story is when Harry learns that part of Voldemort's soul lies in him. Harry therefore allows Voldemort to kill him in order to bring Voldemort one step closer to destruction. Harry does not quite die; Voldemort only destroys that part of his soul that resided in Harry. In the book, Voldemort's final downfall follows in fairly quick succession. The movie decides to add a pair of extended fight sequences that switch back and forth between Harry and Voldemort and Ron, Hermione and Neville and Voldemort's pet snake Nagini, who serves as Voldemort's final Horcrux. This sort of thinking while understandable in terms of Hollywood's action oriented sensibilities demonstrates a failure to understand the book. Harry's victory over Voldemort is his self sacrifice. Once that happens Voldemort already is finished even if he thinks he has won for a few moments longer. What happens next is almost incidental, an opportunity for the bumbling Neville to be a hero and for Mrs. Weasley to deliver the best timed use of a curse word in all fiction. (For more on the novel see my "A Final Goodbye to Harry Potter.")

On the topic of Harry Potter, I thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at an attempt by an Israeli children's book author to craft a story about a little boy and his wand. Meet Miki Ha-Kosem, Mickey the Magician.

This is a hand made illustrated picture book by Israeli artist Miriam Bartov, written in the early 1980s. It tells of a little boy named Mickey who discovers a wand and proceeds to abuse it with expected and comic results. Mickey starts off by making various things bigger and giving himself wings. His attempt at flight does not work out so well and he falls onto one of his recently created giant flowers.

Before much longer he is on the run from one of his giant frogs. 

With the book we have a letter in German from Bartov to a Mr. Bergmann of the Bundesverlag in Mainz, pitching the book to the publishing company.

Apparently Mickey the Magician was never published. One suspects that it might have something to do with it being too similar to another Mickey the Magician.  


As far as we can tell, there are two copies of this book in existence, our copy and one in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. 

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