En­chant­ing spells

Great wizards and witches we have known.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TRENDS - by SARAH bRyAn MILLER

WIZARDS and witches have long ap­peared on both the pages of pop­u­lar fic­tion and screens large and small. The ap­peal is ob­vi­ous: Who hasn’t wanted to be able to sim­ply wave a wand, re­cite a spell and ef­fect a mag­i­cal change on some per­son, ob­ject or sit­u­a­tion?

Harry Pot­ter and the other denizens of J.K. Rowl­ing’s wizard­ing world re­pop­u­larised the genre with a clear-cut story of good ver­sus evil, and the chem­istry of plain old hu­man re­la­tion­ships: Kids will be kids, pol­i­tics are pol­i­tics and fre­quently dirty, and life does not al­ways flow smoothly.

To mark the sev­enth film in the se­ries, Harry Pot­ter And The Deathly Hal­lows: Part 1 ( Part Two will be re­leased in the sum­mer), we pay trib­ute to some of the sig­nif­i­cant sor­cer­ers who have, in one way or an­other, en­chanted us.

Some of them are old-school necro­mancers who study spells and po­tions; some are frauds; some are wizards in other ways; and some are None of the Above.

> Mer­lin the Ma­gi­cian, and his op­po­site num­ber in the world of the Round Ta­ble, King Arthur’s mag­i­cal half-sis­ter, Mor­gan le Fay:

Since Ge­of­frey of Mon­mouth wrote his His­to­ria Regum Bri­tan­niae (The His­tory Of The Kings Of Bri­tain) in the 1130s, the wizard Mer­lin and the witchy Mor­gan have been seen as the su­per­nat­u­ral pow­ers be­hind Arthur’s throne, con­tend­ing on many lev­els. Mer­lin’s leg­end has had far more stay­ing power than Mor­gan’s; per­haps the idea of a strong, beau­ti­ful en­chantress was just too threat­en­ing to some peo­ple.

> Ni­cholas Flamel: In the world of Harry Pot­ter and other fan­tasies (in­clud­ing Michael Scott’s six-book fan­tasy se­ries The Se­crets Of The Im­mor­tal Ni­cholas Flamel), he in­vented the philoso­pher’s stone, which changes lead into gold. In real life, from the early 1330s to about 1418, he was a scrivener and al­chemist, and a de­vout church­goer.

> Gan­dalf and col­leagues from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings: These colour­coded wizards – Gan­dalf the Grey, Saru­man the White and Rada­gast the Brown – have over­sight du­ties in Mid­dle Earth. Gan­dalf is (un­ac­count­ably, from Saru­man’s per­spec­tive) fond of hob­bits, and he and Saru­man both move large chunks of plot, with and with­out the use of magic. Gan­dalf, rather like Tolkien him­self, en­joys a pint and a pipe, and ex­hibits a puck­ish sense of hu­mour.

> Harry Pot­ter, Min­erva McGon­a­gall, Severus Snape et al: The Boy Who Lived and the char­ac­ters who shel­ter him, at­tack him or be­friend him, are some of the liveli­est and most dis­tinc­tive ever penned. Lots of mys­tery sur­round most wizards, but not Harry and the other stu­dents at Hog­warts: tal­ent isn’t worth much if you don’t work to de­velop it.

Over the course of seven nov­els (and, soon, eight movies) Harry comes to grips with his par­ents’ deaths and their fail­ings, faces down enor­mous evil and em­braces amaz­ing good, while grow­ing up and find­ing his way in a world that’s un­usu­ally fraught.

> The Wizard Of Oz: The man be­hind the cur­tain has su­pe­rior technology and great PR, but he’s not mag­i­cal at all – he’s from Kansas. His en­emy, the Wicked Witch of the West, re­ally is mag­i­cal, but in the end a kid with a bucket of wa­ter brings her down.

> The Sor­cerer in The Sor­cerer’s Ap­pren­tice: What did we say about do­ing your home­work? First came Jo­hann Wolf­gang von Goethe’s poem Der Zauber­lehrling, writ­ten in 1797; then came Paul Dukas’ 1987 tone poem L’ap­prenti Sorcier. Then, in 1940, came Fan­ta­sia, with the star power of Mickey Mouse to make the mu­sic and story pop­u­lar around the world. This sor­cerer is def­i­nitely mag­i­cal, and def­i­nitely scary.

> Mrs What­sit, Mrs Who and Mrs Which from Madeleine L’En­gle’s A Wrin­kle In Time: Are they witches or an­gels or what? No one knows ex­actly, but they can move across time and space. The ways in which they work and help Meg, her lit­tle brother Charles Wal­lace and Calvin, are clearly mag­i­cal – in a good way.

> Mr Wizard: Don Her­bert, host of the early TV show Watch Mr Wizard, wasn’t a ma­gi­cian, but he per­formed sim­ple sci­ence ex­per­i­ments that looked like wizardry and en­ter­tained a gen­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can kids. Be­sides, as sci­ence fic­tion author Arthur C. Clarke pos­tu­lated: “Any suf­fi­ciently ad­vanced technology is in­dis­tin­guish­able from magic.”

> The Wizards Of Waverly Place: The Dis­ney Chan­nel show ex­plores the lives of a wizard fam­ily with three chil­dren who live not in a re­mote hin­ter­land but in New York City.

In this ver­sion of a wizard­ing world, a mag­i­cal con­test even­tu­ally takes place be­tween sib­lings. Only one will con­tinue to be a wizard as an adult. For that rea­son, their fa­ther – who him­self lost out to one of his sibs – tries to im­press the same thing on his chil­dren that gen­er­a­tions of par­ents have told their lib­eral arts-ma­jor off­spring: You have to have a backup plan, be­cause this magic thing may not work out. – St Louis Post-Dispatch/ McClatchy-Tribune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Weav­ing his magic: Mickey Mouse por­trayed the Sor­cerer’s ap­pren­tice in Dis­ney’s an­i­mated film

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.