Opening the Chamber of Secrets… again
by George Ivanoff - August 8th, 2012
In May I wrote about reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to my eldest daughter, Nykita, aged nine (see “Revisiting Harry”). She was so excited by the book that we immediately moved on to the next one, which we polished off rather quickly. It’s taken me a while, but I’ve finally gotten around to writing about the experience.
I am pleased to report that Nykita loved Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secret as much as, if not more than, the first book. She found the ghost of Moaning Myrtle, and her tendency to dive into toilets, particularly amusing. But she also found this book to be a little scarier than the first — especially the encounter with Aragog and the giant spiders in the Forbidden Forest. She also seemed a little distressed that his fellow students were so quick to turn on Harry and believe him to be the Heir of Slytherin.
As with the previous book, we followed it up by watching the film. Again, Nykita liked the film but preferred the book, although she thought the spider scene was more frightening in the film.
With book two done and dusted, you’d think that we would move straight on to book three. Not so. Nykita seemed rather torn — on the one hand she was eager for more Harry Potter; but on the other hand, she was worried that Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban might be even scarier, and she thought that The Chamber of Secrets was scary enough. In the end, we decided that we would wait a while and read book three over the Christmas holidays, when she would be a little older and more capable of handling a scarier book.
And my opinion? What do I think now, after all these years, revisiting both book and film in close proximity?
I think Chamber of Secrets is a better book than The Philosopher’s Stone. It has all the charm and wit of the first book, but not as many lapses in logic. The only one that really stands out is the basilisk using the Hogwarts plumbing to make its way around the school. All I can say is that, given the enormity of the basilisk, Hogwarts must have some pretty bloody BIG pipes running through its walls. As for the actual plot, it is more intriguing than the first — the idea that Voldemort preserved a teenage version of himself (then called Tom Riddle) in his school diary. It’s a clever way of having a different villain, who is also the same villain. And, of course, it’s all followed through in later books when the diary is revealed as one of the seven Horcruxes into which Voldemort placed his split-apart soul.
As for the film, I think it’s better than the first. The young actors have all settled into their roles and the story flows along much better — it feels more cohesive than the first. It’s interesting to note the changes that the filmmakers have made from the book. Nothing too big. Most of those changes have been to condense the plot or to make things more visually exciting or funny. But there are some subtle differences in characters, such as Dudley not being quite a horrid as he is in the book. The biggest omission is the plotline about Argus Filch being a Squib (a non-magic person born into a wizarding family). A pity, as this adds to his character, going a long way towards explaining his constant bitterness.
So now I’m waiting — very impatiently, I might add — for the Christmas holidays so I can read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban to Nykita and then watch the film with her.
Catch ya later, George
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