Stay F---! hosts Harry Potter's estranged relative

Carrie McLaren carrie at
Thu Apr 8 19:33:57 EDT 2004

Heads up, Harry Potter fans (and foes). Stay Free! was recently 
fortunate enough to sponsor a screening of WIZARD PEOPLE, DEAR READER 
at the NY Underground Film Festival and we're so taken with it that 
we have made it available for download on the Illegal Art Exhibit 

To experience this, you'll need to get a copy of the first Harry 
Potter movie and watch it with the sound off, replacing the original 
soundtrack with the Wizard People mp3s.

But first, some background: WIZARD PEOPLE, DEAR READER -- a retelling 
of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCEROR's STONE -- is nothing short of 
brilliant. Its creator, Brad Neely of Austin, Texas, is a comic-book 
artist, but you won't find any of his images here. Instead, WIZARD 
PEOPLE uses the entire visual portion of the first Harry Potter 
movie, stripping out the sound and replacing it with Neely's own 
gravely voiced narration. That the movie is two-and-half hours long 
should indicate that the guy is a little, well, obsessive (which for 
me was one of the lures). But  novelty alone does not a movie make; 
even Neely's friends -- his intended audience -- would probably have 
a hard time sitting through this if it weren't so stunningly 

The characters in WIZARD PEOPLE are much like those in HARRY POTTER, 
and in the end, the key parts of the story are essentially unchanged. 
Neely's creation is of course a different version, and, despite a few 
"fuck words," it's an affectionate take on HP. As such, WIZARD PEOPLE 
owes less to Mystery Science Theater than to the musical cover song. 
Some will want to call this a parody, but to do so oversimplifies its 
art. Neely has taken a film widely considered to be a faithful 
rendering of a book and made it inescapably literary, a story in the 
old-time sense. Broken into chapters, Neely's words create images 
that flesh out the ones on screen. Harry's obnoxious cousin 
"Roastbeefy" is rendered "a mean little puke who is borderline 
retarded and must shout moistly every stupid sentence he manages to 
piece together."  

When Harry selects his first magic wand, the narrator clues us in:

"Ed Vanders rushes into Harry's view like a scarecrow carcass, a 
dreadful visage indeed... Master H is beginning to feel animosity 
toward his own celebrity. Harry gazes at the man's skin, a ketchupy 
callus of a face. 'I will make spells that save me from looking like 
him.' Harry [notes]... The mental notes are stacking."  

In a way, WIZARD PEOPLE almost seems to be a throwback to oral 
story-telling. The soundtrack makes a certain kind of sense without 
the accompanying movie, but that's like listening to the teacher read 
a picture book without the pictures. WIZARD PEOPLE is bookish but not 
quite a book, movie-like but not quite a movie. Neely has, one 
imagines, hit upon something entirely new. 

And that, dear readers, is a roundabout way of saying that you simply 
must check this out. We've posted the audio portion of WIZARD PEOPLE, 
which you can download and burn onto two CDs. You'll also need a copy 
of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which you can rent or buy 
as you choose. See the website for full instructions:

Major thanks to Ed Halter for turning us on to this.

until next time,

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