Monday, March 31, 2014

Harry Potter Jr. and Torok the Troll

A troll sits on a log, agog, in Harry Potter's attire.
Harry Potter, Jr., of Course!

Did you know Harry once saved his sister from an evil wizard-turned-troll named Torok who was holding her captive in a magical trance?


No, not that Harry. Harry Potter, Jr.

If you have been missing the witches, trolls, magic, and classic story of good versus evil, try taking an adventure with Harry Potter, Jr. by watching the 1986 family adventure, Troll, directed by John Carl Buechler.



The Original Harry Potter

In September of 2009, Buechler announced in an interview that he was planning to remake Troll, his 1986 film (Gilchrist, 2009). Curious about the correlation that might exist between the original, big brother Harry Potter, Jr. from the 1986 film and J.K. Rowling’s boy wizard, Harry Potter, I watched Troll with a critical eye, trying to imagine if or how Rowling had been, even unwittingly, inspired by this earlier story.

When Troll first came out, I did not see the film, and I had very low expectations up until the moment I pressed “play” on the DVD player. I was pleasantly surprised, however, and I found Troll charming, albeit eerie. Charmingly, for example, Harry Potter, Sr. dances to a punk-rock version of "Summertime Blues" while worried about his daughter’s odd behavior. Eerily, on the other hand, during a family dinner sequence, the shot transitions from the family to singing trolls, to a kindly witch and her magical mushroom, and back to the family dinner. Throughout, the puppet-prop trolls and the magic mushroom sing a choral called Cantos Profanae while yet another character recites Spenser’s "The Fairie Queene."

Harry Meets Harry

Yet, in spite of the obvious differences in storytelling (Rowling's Harry Potter doesn't have a sister he thinks is an alien pod from Mars, for instance), Troll’s Harry Potter, Jr. and Rowling’s Harry Potter share an archetypal similarity. As I watched this film I was reminded of the feelings I had when first reading, then watching, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: feelings of discovery, innocence, and stubborn resolve.

Troll is the story of a boy named Harry Potter, Jr., a dark-haired boy with a sensitive and caring nature. A malevolent troll takes his sister captive and magically disguises himself as the girl. Harry, Jr. sees through the disguise, but he is reluctant to confide in his parents. He allies himself, instead, with a kindly neighbor, who happens to be a witch, and together they foil the troll’s plans of taking over the world by building an army of magical creatures spawned from unwitting neighbors.

Similarly, the Harry Potter books and films are the story of a boy named Harry Potter, a dark-haired boy with a sensitive and caring nature. A malevolent wizard kills his parents and then attempts to kill Harry, and at one point even takes his future-wife captive after magically controlling the girl. Harry, reluctant to confide in the adults who surround him, eventually allies himself with a kindly professor, who happens to be a wizard, and together they foil the evil wizard’s plans of taking over the world by building an army of magical creatures, including trolls, giants, gigantic spiders, dead bodies, and other witches and wizards.

Hero-Harry, A Familiar Motif

Although the stories differ radically in their lengths and breadths of expression, the motif of each story is familiar; a boy becomes a reluctant hero by demonstrating radical self-reliance and willpower in the face of seemingly insurmountable evil. No matter their differences, 1986’s Harry Potter, Jr. has at least that in common with Rowling’s unforgettable boy wizard, Harry Potter.


References

Gilchrist, T. (2009.) Creator plans a remake of the first Harry Potter movie: Troll. Retrieved from http://blastr.com/2009/09/creator-plans-a-remake-of.php



Copyright Amy Lynn Hess. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.  Originally published Sep 28, 2011.

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