O’ Children – The Orphans of Harry Potter

The influence of a song on a scene in Harry Potter

I was laying in the tub today trying to grasp a slippery thought. I have most of my semi-deep, to semi-ridiculous ideas while neck deep in the suds. Goes back to my deep and unabiding love of bath bombs from Lush. The problem was that I had had a song on repeat in my head for two days. It was maddening. Especially when it is only a few bars of it. It was as if the thought was made of eel and Vasoline in equal parts, and every time I got just enough of it to push the song into coalescence it slipped through my mental fingers. By the time I had become sufficiently pruned, and the last of our sad little hot water heater was sputtering its last blessed drops, I had figured it out. I had the epiphanic moment.

The song was “O’Children” by Nick Cave, and the Bad Seeds and the scene was the dance scene from Harry Potter 8.

The connection that had been bouncing around my neurons for two days  Weird right. But I

Hey little train! Wait for me!
I was held in chains but now I’m free
I’m hanging in there, don’t you see
In this process of elimination

have funny thoughts pass through my brain a lot while nackt in der Badewanne (naked in the bath – practicing my German). There is a scene in Harry Potter 8 that is both lovely and mellow; until this point, I wouldn’t have described it as brilliant.  But it is utterly brilliant, and wonderfully written now that I think about it. When Harry and Hermione are waiting together in their tent. Ron had just left their expedition in a fit of madness and rage. Both Ron and Hermione are feeling down in different ways. It is an exceptionally well-acted scene, showcasing the talents of Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliff. They are listening to the radio, waiting for news, for death, for anything, when Nick Cave comes on. His voice is melodious but dark and deep and slow.  This is definitely not music you would usually dance to.

Do you remember where you were when you saw this scene? Did you hate it? Love it? In the Harry Potter film universe, it is one of the most divisive scenes ever written. On first watching, you could assume that it is hinting at a possible romantic connection between the lead characters. But, not everything has to be about romantic love. Harry and Hermione are completely worn down like butter scraped over to much bread. The body language of the scene suggests this. Hermione is almost fetal while Harry is at the far edge of the scene. The lighting of the scene suggests a somber dark and shadowy environment. Harry walks over to Hermione and takes her hand and begins to dance in a goofy way. For one blissful moment, they escape their lives

O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice

and dance together in the joy of friendship. A way that two friends would do to cheer themselves up. To bring a moment of levity into their world that is falling apart. The music is, for me, one of the best selections in a cinematic scene ever done. Bold words.

Here me out, and take a look at the lyrics.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – O’ Children

[Verse 1]
Pass me that lovely little gun
My dear, my darling one
The cleaners are coming, one by one
You don’t even want to let them start

They are knocking now upon your door
They measure the room, they know the score
They’re mopping up the butcher’s floor
Of your broken little hearts

O children
Forgive us now for what we’ve done
It started out as a bit of fun
Here, take these before we run away
The keys to the gulag

[Chorus]
O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice
Come on, come on, come on, come on

[Verse 2]
Here comes Frank and poor old Jim
They’re gathering round with all my friends
We’re older now, the light is dim

And you are only just beginning

O children

We have the answer to all your fears
It’s short, it’s simple, it’s crystal clear
It’s round about and it’s somewhere here
Lost amongst our winnings

[Chorus]
O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice

[Verse 3]
The cleaners have done their job on you
They’re hip to it, man, they’re in the groove
They’ve hosed you down, you’re good as new
And they’re lining up to inspect you

O children
Poor old Jim’s white as a ghost
He’s found the answer that we lost
We’re all weeping now, weeping because
There ain’t nothing we can do to protect you

[Chorus]
O children
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice
Children
Rejoice, rejoice
[Outro]
Hey little train! We are all jumping on
The train that goes to the Kingdom
We’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
And the train ain’t even left the station

Hey, little train! Wait for me!
I once was blind but now I see
Have you left a seat for me?
Is that such a stretch of the imagination?

Hey little train! Wait for me!
I was held in chains but now I’m free
I’m hanging in there, don’t you see
In this process of elimination

Hey little train! We are all jumping on
The train that goes to the Kingdom
We’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
It’s beyond my wildest expectation

Hey little train! We are all jumping on
The train that goes to the Kingdom
We’re happy, Ma, we’re having fun
And the train ain’t even left the station

The lyrics talk of a world being destroyed by the adults of the system, and it is up to the children to sort it out. It is hopeful. The bombs may be dropping, the world might be ending, but lift your voice children for there is always hope. Rejoice in that.

This is what the Harry Potter story is. I think it is even more powerful when you think of Harry and Hermione as lone orphans. Harry against his will, and Hermione to protect her parents. Both children, fighting a battle and losing. Alone in the world, and now abandoned by their third. Lift your voice children and dance.  Rejoice.

It is a really damn powerful scene, and I have so much more appreciation for it now that I can look at it through the lens of time.

Graphic Novel Review – Criminal Vol. 1 (Coward) by Ed Brubaker

“Two hours later, against my better judgement I am walking into the Undertow”

Criminal_1.png

“Revenge. That’s what he had come for… But it didn’t really exist, did it?
Just empty regret and bitter heartbreak, wandering the streets.
The city around him, white and grey and cold, felt suddenly so small.
Hyde had been right about family, there was no escaping it…
Even when there was no one left to run from.” 
― Ed Brubaker, Criminal, Vol. 2: Lawless

About

From Harvey Award-Winning Best Writer Ed Brubaker, and Scream Award-Winning Best Artist Sean Phillips comes the first collection of Criminal, one of the best reviewed comics of 2006. Coward is the story of Leo, a professional pickpocket who is also a legendary heist-planner and thief. But there’s a catch with Leo, he won’t work any job that he doesn’t call all the shots on, he won’t allow guns, and the minute things turn south, he’s looking for any exit that won’t land him in prison. But when he’s lured into a risky heist, all his rules go out the window, and he ends up on the run from the cops and the bad men who double-crossed him. Now Leo must come face-to-face with the violence he’s kept bottled up inside for 20 years, and nothing will ever be the same for him again. Collects Criminal #1-5.

Awards

  • #895 of the 1001 Comics to Read Before You Die
  • #28 of CBH Best Comics to Read
  • 2007 Eisner Award for best writer

My Thoughts

CriminalIssue1-thumb-500x773-1016261.jpgThere are some things you need to know before starting this series:

  1. This graphic novel is straight up crime noir. There are no superheroes, magic, aliens, or mystical forces. What there is though, is dark searing dialog, blood, violence, and language.
  2. This is a very adult comic. Adult themes and imagery. The story is designed to haunt the reader. To sear some of the images on the frontal lobe.
  3. The protagonist of volume 1, and from what I understand continuing volumes throughout the series are anti-heroes.
  4. Each of the volumes is a different story arc all taking place in the same world.

Knowing all this if you want to continue into this world, it is quite a ride. The premise revolves around the protagonist, Leo Patterson. A former heist strategist who has left the life of crime to take care of Ivan, an old family friend. Ivan is addicted to heroin and has Alzheimers. At Ivan’s age, breaking heroin addiction becomes untenable so Leo provides palliative care to Ivan.  Leo agrees to the heist against his better Judgement, swayed by an attraction to recovering heroin addict Greta. From there, the story progresses through a series of backstabbing and double-crossing that leave various people dead.

The title of the book is coward. Which is ironic because Leo is anything but. His cautiousness and reservedness at the beginning of the story lead other criminals into thinking that he is weak, “he doesn’t just walk away from trouble, he runs.” What people don’t understand, and the reader soon finds out is that caution does not necessarily mean forceless. It could mean that you are thoughtful and very, very smart. Like in the case of Leo. He is pushed to the breaking point and becomes a force of nature abandoning all pretense of cowardness and serving up a side of badass on his betrayers. The bold and brazen end up dead or in jail while the cautious and calculating walk away with the money.

91hsjgUvI6L.jpgBrubaker is the king of crime noir in graphic novels. A genre much changed since the 1950’s. Here Brubaker sticks to familiar themes, but he serves them up bruised, foreboding, and dark. Although “Coward” could be a standalone series, minor characters in this arc play much larger roles in other character arcs. It is really fun to dissect the minor details of the story when you go back and flip through. Pay attention because there are many offhanded comments in this story that play a larger part in others. This is just good storytelling plain and simple. The dialog, story, and graphics are top notch and it is absolutely worth the journey of discovery. I look forward to checking out the next story arc in “Lawless.”

Review of Gravel, Volume 1: Bloody Liars (Gravel, #7)

I have read a lot of Ellis over the years. A whole lot. The guy is prolific as hell and he has his fingers in a whole lot of pies. For me next to Neil Gaiman, 6498172he is my favorite graphic novelist and Transmetropolitan is absolute genius. Transmetropolitan is a Hunter S. Thompson fever dream.
This makes me very sad to say but this was just eh for me.  Ellis’s writing is always good, and graphically this is well done. Which is loads ahead of most writers, but the story was flat. I felt absolutely nothing for the protagonist. It was as if GI Joe became a magician and killed lots of people in creative ways. Even if Gravel is a badass, as a person or human or whatever he is, he will have downtime moments. He will have moments of humanity. If he sees a kitten the appropriate response to the said kitten is not to shoot it. This is kinda the vibe I got from the story. I wanted to like gravel but he lacked the hook that made me empathize or understand him at all. Plus, combat magician is kind of a thing in urban fantasy right now and sorry to say they did it better. Gravel reminds me of Dresden and John Constantine but without Dresden’s heart or Constantine’s swagger.
It’s still a decent read. I don’t think Ellis can put out anything terrible. He is like pizza, even when it’s sorta bad it’s still damn good. I just don’t think it’s one of his best. I’ll continue with the series if I come across them in the library but I think that is as far as it goes for me. Excuse me while I go hug my Dresden novels.