Thursday, October 2, 2014

Putting Magic on the Big Screen

Putting Magic on the Big Screen
Every year, hype was built through my entire generation in thought of the next Harry Potter film and 2005 was no different. The Goblet of Fire, filled with magic and mystery, had already filled our minds with fantasies of fighting dragons and dueling Voldemort from what we read in the books, and the movie was able to bring our wildest imaginations to life. With the combination of fantastic acting and incredible special effects, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire made us feel like we were apart of the Wizarding World for a couple of hours.
            Dragons. A staple in any magical world, and our beloved wizard, Harry, must face one in his first task of the Triwizard Tournament. Immediately when Harry walks out into the arena, we see a beautifully built set, filled with a huge gallery of spectators that all look the part of wizards. Then BANG! The dragon smashes his tail down, crushing earth and sending debris flying and Harry running. Then, the dragon lets out a huge burst of fire right towards him, making him flee for cover. After some time running around and hiding for his life, he finally casts a spell that brings him his Firebolt, a flying broomstick, which he uses to take this battle to the air. He outmaneuvers the dragon all around the castle and escapes death a few times. After some time, he escapes the dragon’s wrath and goes on to scope up the golden egg and complete the task leading him to the next.
Task Two: Harry has to swim in the murky lake of Hogwarts and search for his friends. But, like all things in the wizarding world, this is no ordinary lake. It is filled with viscous squid-like creatures and mermaids that swim throughout creating havoc for Harry. At first, he grows gills and fins from a magical plant he ate. This allows him to also breath underwater. Searching for his friends, he is attacked by strange creatures and sees the other contestants, who have their own unique way of breathing underwater. Two of them have a bubble around their mouth and the other has turned into a shark. Eventually, he finds his friends and completes the task.
Both of these scenes bring out so much emotion out of the viewer, because it all looked so real. You can feel the wind while he flies his broom and feel the heat from the dragon’s fire. You feel the water surrounding him by the way he swims. You feel actual fear and worry for Harry’s life as these scenes takes place. Nothing takes you out of the scene with some cheesy line or terrible special effect. The shingles falling off the roof look so real. Every detail, every horn, can be seen on the animated dragon. The crew even built an animatronic dragon for the movie so they could get a feel for it. A long with making a life size dragon, the make-up on the characters is phenomenal. Everyone is dressed like they belong at Hogwarts. Even “Mad-Eye Moody (not hard to spot in both scenes) has his artificial eye rolling around. The make-up team did have a lot of help from CGI as well. Louis Gianetti, an author of many books, said "even sweat on an actor's face can be effaced by an F/X technician"(Gianetti, 33). For the underwater scene, they went the extra mile to create something that felt real. They actually filmed much of this scene in a pool with scuba divers providing air to the actors in-between shots seen in the video. Daniel Radcliff, who plays Harry Potter, had flippers on that resembles thoughs seen in the final production. Everything else was added through CGI, including the creatures and the seaweed. The film went on to win the BAFTA Award for best production design and was nominated for best make-up and hair ( The logic it is there because it all feels so real. We are immersed in this world where magic is real, so it completely reasonable for a dragon to be chasing someone flying on a broom. The credibility built from the special effects is incredible. Daniel Radcliff’s ethos is greatly enhanced because it looks so real, and the fact that he did his own stunts and practiced so much to be able to do the underwater scenes makes him that much more desired for future films. In this movie we can just focus on the acting, rather than be distracted by poorly done effects. Also, the special effects team’s credibility is built and put on a pedestal for such a great job. They went above and beyond to make it all believable and create the best viewing experience. All of this allows us not to get caught up in the insanity that we are watching, but rather get lost in the film and the scene. With all of this being said, I give the special effects in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire five pickles.

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