Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Urban fantasy... or not.

Remember the trailers for the last Harry Potter film with the Death Eaters swooping down on central London and wrecking that fancy foot bridge we keep seeing in Spooks? With the portentous voiceover saying the danger would cross over into our world? Then watching the film and discovering (if, like me, you stopped reading the books when they got bigger than dictionaries) that this was all the wizardy folks did in our world, on their way to trash Diagon Alley?

And I think it was the fifth one that had trailers showcasing a bunch of them on broomsticks flying past Parliament... which was the only shot involving a real-world landmark.

Well, today I saw a poster for HP7.1 with Hermione looking moody in front of Tower Bridge and the tagline "nowhere is safe". Even though I know perfectly well that most of the big action takes place in the Scottish countryside around Hogwarts, I still want to think that it might come through.

It seems that someone making these trailers and posters is (a) out to mess with my head or (b) is, like me, more interested in the juxtaposition of mundane modernity with classic fantasy stylings than J.K. Rowling herself is.

I suppose what I'm getting at is that it makes it feel like a lost opportunity. If you set a fantasy story in the present, keeping most of it in an ancient castle and the misty woods surrounding it rather lessens that impact, even if the viewpoint characters are modern people. I suppose this is why it's generally called "urban fantasy" rather than "modern fantasy", even though the former could easily be construed as including non-modern genre stories about non-modern cities.

Because that last trailer made me want to see a story about an evil wizard in modern London, opposed by the SAS or something. Because that could kick major ass.

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