Thursday, January 13, 2011

Recommendation: A Year in the Life of J. K. Rowling

If you are about the same age as me (I was born in 1987) chances are that you are part of the Harry Potter generation! Clearly, most young people who enjoy the Harry Potter books could be called "the Harry Potter generation" but maybe there is something special about starting to read the book series when you are 11 years old, just as the main protagonist.

So for people like me around the world it is undeniable: the Harry Potter saga is coming to an end. It already did end in a way when the last book was released. No more midnight release parties! No more avoiding the internet for a few days before the book launch to not be spoiled by ominous carpet books. No more finding five different fan-written versions of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix online. Oh well, back when the last book came out I told myself: There will still be the movies.

Now that the last movie is due out this summer (THIS SUMMER!) there won't be much of anything out afterwards. Yes, I am hoping for J. K. Rowling to write that encyclopedia or maybe some cute book like "Hogwarts, a History" much in the same way in which she wrote Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch through the Ages, but there won't be any new books about Harry Potter at Hogwarts. Ah well! So as the summer release of the final Harry Potter film draws near, we are all a little bit sad. Right now I am doing some things that bring back memories, like rereading the books or watching DVD bonus material.

But one thing that I dug up again is the 2007 documentary "A Year in the Life of J. K. Rowling". I thought it's a really beautifully done documentary which follows the author through a critical phase of her career - namely the year in which she finished writing the final book of the Harry Potter series. It's almost surreal to see her sitting in a hotel room now, after the book has been released, actually finishing the very last bit of the novel. Then you get a brief look at how the manuscript was transported to the publisher and finally being printed as well.

Other than centering around the production of the Harry Potter saga the documentary also features J. K. Rowling's sister and husband and they're talking a bit about their family life. James Runcie also asks Jo a few very interesting questions and touches on the hard times in her life, after her divorce and the birth of her first child, when she faced depression and how she managed to keep going after all. Some insights on how Rowling's personal hardships in life and probably most of all the death of her mother influenced the book series are also given.

Overall, it is probably the perfect documentary to watch for a Harry Potter enthusiast who wants to know more about the author. If you are a fan like me and familiar with Rowling's basic biography you will probably already know a lot of the things that are talked about in this documentary. However, it is still an interesting watch. Especially scenes like the one where Rowling has the opportunity to visit one of her old flats again and is overwhelmed by emotion when she sees the Harry Potter books standing on a shelf there, shouldn't be missed by fans.

But even if you aren't a fan of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling is an interesting woman. She has very interesting views on life and if you ever wanted to check out what the fuss is all about this documentary might be a good place to start as well.

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