Finally got to see /Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows I/ last Friday. I’ve read the book, and I was interested to see that the more relaxed pacing resulting from splitting the novel allowed more time for the actors to show their response to events. But I noticed something else as well.
This is the first of the stories to spend much time outdoors. The first six books take place mostly at Hogwarts, with some scenes in London, magical or muggle, and suburbia. The thing that struck me is that although there are magical creatures outdoors at Hogwarts, and references to magical beings elsewhere, except at Hogwarts, we never see them.
Specifically, in the seventh book, while Harry et al. are doing their “See Beautiful Britain” tour, bouncing from one campsite to another, not only do they not encounter other humans, they don’t see any animals, nor do they encounter any magical beings– there’s not a nymph or dryad, dwarf or fairy, to be seen. Rowling’s universe, however engaging, is essentially sterile. The magic is no more than an unusually colorful technology. The books are about virtue, not spirituality.
This observation is not exactly news– I think that most pagans like the books for almost every reason /except/ the magic. Perhaps it was the emptiness of the lonely, lovely settings where a magically sensitive soul should have found spirits galore that brought it home. Having recently re-read Diane Duane’s “Young Wizard” series, in which studying wizardry teaches one to perceive the magic in all Life, I couldn’t help regretting thinking that Rowling’s universe suffers by comparison. Harry and his friends are muggles in the natural world.