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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

20 years? 20 years. Twenty. Years. What the what.

I saw this in theaters with my high school boyfriend's little brother who was my Harry Potter buddy. We had a great time.

Oh... where to begin. I think I covered this a little with Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone but things just keep getting worse on the Harry Potter front and I really seriously considered removing the movies from the list. JK Rowling has very much shown us who she is and it's horrible and bigoted and so disappointing. And I've never been someone who can easily separate art from artist, especially when it's so easy to see, now, where her bigotry seeps into her writing. And that sucks. Also this movie is waaaaaay way way too long so I'm just a little cranky on the other side of it.

I think Chris Columbus did such a great job of introducing the wizarding world to film. I do. But the slavish devotion to including damn near every beat of the book is exhausting. You can't include the nuance so it's just nonsense. Nearly three hours of nonsense. What is the architecture for Hogwarts, too? So many Chinese dragons on this centuries old English castle. Ben described the Chamber of Secrets as Plumber Rococo and honestly, yeah. Like, what is this school? What is it? The older I get the more I'm like, cool this is a death trap with zero accountability by the head master. No one warned the students about the whomping willow? Quidditch is deadly in general but the only person who can deal with a murderous bludger is *checks notes* a 12-year-old witch. Cool. Cool cool cool cool.

Okay, this isn't productive, all this negativity. So let's move to the positives! The score. John Williams genius. "Fawkes the Phoenix" is one of my favorite cinematic motifs of all time and it still makes me tear up. Sweeping, soaring, warm. All in music. Incredible.

I'm obsessed with Kenneth Branagh's costumes in this movie. They are so sumptuous. Yards and yards and yards of silks and cashmeres. The quiet acknowledgement that he wears a wig. The bows and jabots. The color choices (periwinkle! camel!). Especially now that my hair is short, I would lurve to have my own dueling outfit, a wizardy take on fencing garb. It's such detailed perfection. The single glove on his wand hand. The wee tiny frog for drawing his wand. The Elizabethan cape. I die.

I also, perpetually, feel the need to give a shout out to Daniel Radcliffe, who not only holds his own in his second major film, but ended up being a decent, funny, sensible human being. Since covering the first movie, I watched the reunion special on HBO and it's so clear that those seasoned professionals were looking out for those kiddos and those kiddos were receptive to it. Especially with all the Rowling horse shit, it's lovely knowing that Harry Potter himself isn't mired in it.

Lino cut print.



-Finding an Octavia Butler quote to accompany this felt correct. I couldn't use a Rowling but I wanted to do a phoenix motif so this worked out nicely.

-I'm shocked at how well the text came out. I've got better tools and techniques for transferring designs to the block now but carving out that detail still scares me a bit. Many thanks to Ben for the very excellent Flexcut tools he gave me for my birthday. There's a 1mm gouge! 1mm!

-Ink continues to vex me. In my heart of hearts, I wanted a stronger red to golden yellow ombre and I initially wanted the baby phoenix to be in gray but that would have required either a second block or some jigsawing and frankly, that was not going to happen with my schedule this month. With the red/orange/yellow, I kept vacillating between too much and not enough ink. I was short on patience in general and that didn't help either.

-I only cut myself twice which, given the sharpness of my new tools, is pretty great. Still, I could be more careful.

-The wondrous properties of phoenixes in the Harry Potter world really hit me differently this time and I wanted to explore that. They can carry great loads, their tears have healing capabilities, their song is cheering. Sounds an awful lot like emotional healing to me. Not to mention their life cycle. Born to die to be born again. Sometimes it's exhausting, realizing we're all going through the same cycles of life. Healing doesn't mean you'll never be hurt again, but hopefully it means that you understand that the pain is temporary. And so is the joy. so delight in it all. I'm all in my feelings now.

Next, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure! I've already watched it by the time I've finished this piece so I cannot play coy about what how I felt about it. It's delightful. It's so lovely. Go, go watch it.

I hope you have a lovely restful week. I hope you find healing tears when you need them and I hope that in dark moments you remember that you are a phoenix.

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