Little Wizard has Germany Spellbound | Culture| Arts, music and lifestyle reporting from Germany | DW | 22.11.2001
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Little Wizard has Germany Spellbound

Yawning teachers, parents and students had a very unusual breakfast at five o'clock this morning. German fans are bewitched after feasting on chocolate frogs, butter beer and the Harry Potter film.


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Like the rest of the world, the German film version of Harry Potter and Philospher's Stone was a sell-out. The record-breaking film made its debut in Germany today. Cinema owners believe that the Potter film will continue to be a big money spinner well through the yuletide season. The little wizard has seemingly waved his wand and bewitched a nation into attending cinema. As Germany faces an economic crisis, this market sector is suddenly thriving.

Teachers faced classrooms filled with inspired but yawning children this morning. This is after movie theaters the country over bent the rules a little. As if by magic, one chain of cinemas opened their doors to the over eager fans at exactly one minute past midnight, well past bedtime.

Another chain opened its doors at five in the morning to drowsy parents and their children brimming with excitement. Some teachers used the opportunity to treat their classes to an unusual excursion. Regardless of who one meets where, the first question is not the usual 'Wie geht’s?' (How are you doing) but rather 'Have you seen it yet?' Germany is enchanted with the little wizard's film debut as the feedback shows.

The jury is out It is never too early for chocolate frogs and butter beer. This is what most cinema goers ate and drank between the delighted "oohs" and "aahs" while watching the 152-minute-long film.

The feedback from critical fans is amazingly positive. A satisfied 17-year-old from Fahrland in Brandenburg comments, "Joanne Rowling has been really lucky. The film is just as good as the book." A 34-year-old afficianado from Frankfurt remarks, "The characters are exactly as I initially pictured them."

Film producers couldn't pull the wool over some of the younger viewers eyes in Berlin however. This, despite a clever marketing gimmick of getting the children to whisper a secret password into the ear of a hefty woman in a dark red dress before entering the cinema. Moritz, a 10-year-old from the city says, "I am not really satisfied with the film. There were a few things that weren't quite right but most importantly, they got the colour of Harry's eyes wrong. He has green and not blue eyes."

11-year-old Sarah, a member of one of Germany's biggest Harry Potter fan clubs comments almost emotionally, "Us fans aren't overly impressed with the film. With his slick hairstyle he looks far too much like a brave hero." Regardless of their seeming disappointment with the minor details, all of the cinema goers have a bewitched glint in their eyes.

However, the official censorship advisory board is putting a dampener on the Harry mania. Children under the age of seven should not be allowed to watch the film they claim. Certain scenes are apparently too frightening says the head of the board Birgit Göllnich. The board is at present battling to reach a broad consensus since they agree that it is indeed a fairytale of sorts and filled with positive attributes. At the same time, some scenes are too gruesome for younger viewers and the link to the occult is too strong.

Some nature conservationists are warning parents of the dangers associated with owl keeping. They are afraid that children might want to start keeping owls after seeing Hedgwig, Harry's owl, in action. The film makes owl keeping look like child's play. When in fact, these are dangerous and wild birds, not at all child-friendly. Moreover, owls are a protected species in Germany.

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