Thursday, February 3, 2011

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

I've established a rule here at Reverse Bechdel that if any movie in the list to be reviewed is a sequel, I will first review the preceding movie(s), so that I'm not totally confused by the sequel. Of the top five movies in 2010, three of them were sequels: Toy Story 3, Iron Man 2 and Twilight: Eclipse. Toy Story and Twilight are both, for the moment, trilogies, each giving me two prior films to watch. However, now I've come to the first real test of this sequel rule. Why? Well...

The sixth-highest domestic-grossing movie of 2010, and the next on my list, is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I. Of the eight intended Harry Potter movies, this is #7. In order to catch up, I have six prior Harry Potter movies to watch. It might be weeks before I review a movie other than Harry Potter. We'll see how it goes, but there's nothing else to do except jump right in with #1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

The first man in the movie is Dumbledore; the first woman is Professor McGonagall.

blug1.png The second man is Hagrid, who shows up about two-and-a-half minutes into the movie. Hagrid greets both Dumbledore and McGonagall, and Dumbledore asks if there were any problems. Hagrid says no, the baby Harry Potter fell asleep while they were flying over Bristol. Dumbledore doesn't respond, and McGonagall jumps in, so this doesn't strictly fit the rules I've established, although it just barely falls short.

pink1.png The second woman in the movie is Harry's adoptive mother, Aunt Petunia.

blug2.png blug3.png When Aunt Petunia uncovers Dudley's eyes to show him his birthday presents, Dudley turns to his father, Uncle Vernon and asks, "How many are there?" Vernon tells him 36, and Dudley complains that last year he had 37. Vernon says that some of this year's presents are much bigger, and Dudley says he doesn't care how big they are. The conversation ends when Aunt Petunia interrupts Dudley to promise him two more presents. In less than six minutes, Sorcerer's Stone passes the Reverse Bechdel test.

Sorcerer's Stone passes RB-3 many times throughout the movie. Uncle Vernon warns Harry not to cause trouble at the zoo, then punishes him afterwards. Hagrid has a few one-on-one conversations with Harry, including on his birthday, later about Voldemort, and at the end of the movie before Harry gets on the train. Harry and Ron also have a few one-on-one conversations, the first on the train to Hogwarts, another on Christmas Day, and elsewhere. Harry also has a one-on-one conversation with Oliver, who explains how Quidditch works, and again as they're about to go onto the field for Harry's first Quidditch match.

This movie raises an interesting question. A strange, large and hairy man breaks into your house after midnight, gives an 11-year-old boy some cake, and offers to take him away. What would your response be?

The movie's third woman is Doris Crawford, who introduces herself in the bar, but she only talks to Harry. The fourth is Ron's mother, who only talks to her sons and Harry. Ron's sister doesn't talk at all. The fifth woman is the stewardess on the train, who only talks to Ron and Harry. The sixth is Hermione, and we still haven't had any of them talk to each other.

pink2.png More than an hour into the movie, Hermione has the first line from one female to another: "It's my fault, Professor McGonagall."

McGonagall: "Oh, Miss Granger?"
Hermione: "I went looking for the troll. I'd read about them and thought I could handle it. But I was wrong. If Harry and Ron hadn't come and found me, I'd probably be dead."
McGonagall: "Be that as it may, it was an extremely foolish thing to do. I would've expected more rational behavior on your part, and I am severely disappointed in you, Miss Granger. Five points will be taken from Gryffindor for your serious lack of judgment. As for you two gentlemen..."

Although Harry, Ron, Snape and Quirrell (all male) were all present, this exchange took place entirely between the two ladies, addressing each other by name in three of the four lines. Moreover, when McGonagall does begin to talk to Harry and Ron, she marks a clear boundary between her conversation with Hermione and her conversation with the two boys, turning to face them and saying, "As for you two gentlemen..."

pink3.png The above conversation is the only one which passes OB-2. Immediately before that conversation, McGonagall faces Harry and Ron, demanding that they explain themselves. They stutter for a moment or two, before Hermione interrupts with her line, "It's my fault, Professor McGonagall." As far as McGonagall is aware, Hermione is explaining her own actions. It could be said that before the line, "If Harry and Ron hadn't come and found me..." the conversation is not about any males, therefore passes OB-3. However, I think this is stretching the Original Bechdel test quite a bit. Although Hermione and McGonagall are talking to each other and the first part of their conversation appears to be about something other than a man, the entire point of those first few lines is to get Harry and Ron out of trouble. While the conversation appears to not be about a man, Hermione is really saying, "Don't blame the guys, blame me."

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