There’s a joke at Hogwarts that the most highly coveted teaching position must be jinxed, because there’s a new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher every year. And for practically every “Harry Potter” film, there’s a new director as well (“We don’t kill them, though,” says Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry. “That’s an important thing to realize”). From Chris Columbus to Alfonso Cuarón to Mike Newell, each “Potter” film has a distinctive stamp — the Columbus pair have a wonderful Neverland quality to them, Cuarón’s is more raw and natural, while Newell’s has the rush of a thriller. Newell says it doesn’t hurt but helps the “Potter” flicks to pass the wand around, otherwise “you would get cookie-cutter films.” That begs the question — what could the next three films in the series look like if, say, someone like David Cronenberg or Quentin Tarantino were heading them up? (And might we suggest, Quentin, that “Half-Blood Prince” might be more up your Diagon alley?). So we asked a few directors to dream up what their magic touch would be. Here’s what they said …
James Mangold (“Walk the Line”): “Stepping into one of these films is stepping into so many choices already made. I’m greedy — I really like building the world of my film. So if I were to direct, it would have to be the first one, where you would have had a chance to set it all in motion.”
Chris Stokes (“You Got Served”): “I’d make them a lot scarier, like a ‘Jurassic Park’-type movie.”
Josh Stolberg (“Kids in America”): “They did the same thing in ‘Mission: Impossible,’ where every single one of the films has a different look, and I think that’s great. That’s one of the reasons sequels have trouble sustaining audiences is that they get old, like, ‘I’ve seen that before.’ But they’re approaching them from a totally unique place, and I think that’s exciting. I would have them adult-ized. I’d want to let them have fun, let them loosen up a bit.”
James Wong (“Final Destination”): ” ‘Harry Potter’ is going to be ‘Harry Potter’ no matter who takes it on. Even though my films are much more graphic, I definitely wouldn’t have as many deaths. It could be truly scary without being gory or showing a lot of blood. So if you do kill someone off [in book seven], it has to be a character that you’ve grown to care about, to make the death more meaningful. I don’t think you can do ‘Harry Potter’ without Harry being alive, so I would kill Hermione, because that’s the one you don’t expect. Normally, you’d want it to be quick and sudden, so people jump out of their seats, but with Hermione, I would draw it out more. The how part is tricky, because in Harry Potter’s world, it’s crazy magic, you could kill her and bring her back!”
Sam Mendes (“Jarhead”): “The pressure of those books is so huge, you know? Following someone else who’s already directed the visual language of it doesn’t really allow you much freedom to express what it is that’s your vision. So would I consider it? Not really.”
Jared Hess (“Napoleon Dynamite”): “It would be fun to see Harry Potter as a man, a man Potter. It looks like he hits a new stage of puberty with each trailer I see.”
Watch Harry as he comes to grips with puberty and dragons, on Overdrive.
Samuel Bayer (“Green Day: Bullet in a Bible”): “I’d put the kids in a time capsule and freeze them so they don’t get any older.”
Garth Jennings (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”): “I’m not a big fan of blue-screen things, so I’d try to do as much in-camera as possible. Of course, it’d be kind of difficult to do a fire-breathing dragon in-camera, but I’d try. And I’d try not to be too worried about the dark side coming through. The books — particularly this fourth one — have the most wonderfully dark gems hidden in them. It seems like the films just keep getting a bit darker and darker, so maybe the last one will be some X-rated movie.”
Dave McKean (“MirrorMask”): “I still can’t understand why nobody’s realized that the ‘H.P.’ in ‘H.P. Lovecraft’ actually stands for Harry Potter! I realize there’s a lot of documented evidence that suggests it might be Howard Phillips Lovecraft or something equally bank-managerish, but that’s true only in the factual sense of the word. So my vote is for the ratings to go up as Harry gets older, so when he’s 18, I’d let all that psycho sexual energy that’s boiling away behind those prismatic portals he wears over his eyes VOMIT out into the sluices of Hogwarts. That scar in his head splits open, and all the bile and spite that’s been seething away behind those endless pages of nice magicians and their nice little spells THRUSTS forth, Cthulhu-like, in fully engorged Cronenbergian ecstatic slug-fingers … or not.”
Gregg Araki (“Mysterious Skin”): “Harry who?”
For a feature on “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” check out “Harry Potter: No More Child’s Play.”
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