CAPSULE: The growing phenomenon of fandom of the Harry Potter books and films is examined in several of its manifestations in this documentary. From four-year-old "Wizard Rock" punk rock stars to the Warner Brothers battle to close down the web sites of fans of their own films director Josh Koury looks at the multiple threads of the Potter fandom movement. He goes back and forth among the threads, but he could have used a few more threads and his camera was not always on the most interesting material. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
Somewhere in another part of the forest, where Muggles like me do not see it, there has grown a huge fandom for Harry Potter. I mean, if you think that "Star Wars" had a big fan base, it was Yoda-sized compared to Potter fandom. If you thought "Star Trek" had an active fandom, they were Hortas compared to Potter fandom. WE ARE WIZARDS examines the growing phenomenon of Harry Potter fandom, but sadly not nearly with the breadth that we might have hoped for. WE ARE WIZARDS is a new documentary that examines eight or nine threads of the Harry Potter phenomenon and follows people who are major figures in the subculture of fans.
The inspiration for WE ARE WIZARDS could have been Roger Nygard's TREKKIES. That film was an examination of many of the various breeds of Star Trek Fandom. But Nygard's film had a lot more scope and covered a lot more threads of its movement. This film is more diffuse and follows three or four Harry Potter rock bands, some people who maintain fan web sites, a religious zealot who is convinced that kids reading fantasy stories about wizards will destroy the fabric of the country, etc. They form a mosaic of the fandom that has come out of J. K. Rowling's books and people reacting to it.
One Harry Potter rock group is the Hungarian Horntails. They are made up of two children: Darius Wilkins, age seven at the time the film was made; and Holden Wilkins, age four. These two kids seems to be rock stars in spite of the fact that at this age they can do little more than scream songs like "Dragon Rock Rules" while Darius runs his hand over a guitar making sound but not music. The lyrics for that song seem to be just yelling the title phrase into the microphones over and over again. It is remarkable that they are rock stars at such a young age and have a large following, but it may say more about their fans than it does about them themselves.
Examples of their music can be found at http://www.myspace.com/thehungarianhorntails
Another thread has self-appointed religious advocate and cult expert Caryl Matrisciana warning of the extreme dangers of children being seduced into the dark world of the occult by Harry Potter. Matrisciana made an anti-Potter film on what she calls "the dangers and realities of witchcraft." She does not specify here exactly what specific dangers she sees, but she seems to imply that witchcraft really exists and that letting children read the Potter books gives them over to what she calls "the dark world of vampires, lizards, serpents,..." Her world is more frightening than theirs is.
Director Josh Koury shows us other wizard rock bands including Harry and the Potters which offers not one but two Harry Potters, on a younger Potter and one an older one. Other groups are Draco and the Malfoys, and The Whomping Willows. And we meet Heather Lawver who ran Potter fandom website until Warner Brothers lived up to their name and threatened fans not to use copyright material, which is just about everything about Potter. Lawver responded by organizing an international boycott of Warner Brothers Potter materials.
There is probably much more material that Koury does not show us that would be more of interest than some of what he does. For reasons known best to him he chooses to have us see Darius and Holden playing like most children do and sometimes arguing in the backseat of their car. He cannot have been that surprised that the brothers behave like other children of their age even if they are rock stars. Why Koury thinks the audience needs to see it is a mystery. A little Wizard Rock seems to go a long way, and not unexpectedly did not do a lot for my Puccini-loving ears.
Koury far too much seems to have just let the camera run on his subjects. There is no story to the film as there is with a documentary such as HOOP DREAMS. Instead we just see people doing their thing. And their thing too frequently fails to seem noteworthy. I came away from the film wanting to tell cult-expert Caryl Matrisciana that just because these kids say they are wizards does not mean that there is really anything magical about them. And I think I would like to tell the kids the same thing. I rate WE ARE WIZARDS low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10.
Film Credits: http://tinyurl.com/weRwizards
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2008 Mark R. Leeper