Wizard People

Wizard People, Dear Readers

Wizard People, Dear Readers, released in 2004, is an unauthorized, alternative soundtrack to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, written by Brad Neely, a comic book artist from Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Wizard People, Dear Readers is a narrative retelling of the lives of the characters of The Sorcerer's Stone and the world in which they live. Presented in the form of an audio book, this soundtrack is intended to replace the film's audio track. Such an infusion of dissident subtext into a pop-culture phenomenon is in line with such works as The Dark Side of Oz and the film parodies of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax.

Origins

Brad Neely, in an interview with Chief magazine, described the beginning of the idea as follows:
Anyway, we were at a bar and were getting a good laugh at a guy who was playing pool all by himself while wearing a hoody over his hat, sunglasses under that and headphones on the outside of all of it. So we started riffing on “What could he possibly be listening to?” Someone who I don’t think was me said that he was listening to a book on tape of Harry Potter. And out came the Wizard People narrator. I joked that night that I was going to rush home and record an entire misinformed book on tape of The Sorcerer’s Stone, due to the fact that I had not and have not ever read any Harry Potter books. Once I started making notes for it I realized that an audio track alone could get boring, so I decided to sync it with the movie. Then I took a week or two and made the damn thing. I love it.

Presentations

In 2004, the New York Underground Film Festival rented a print of the film from Warner Brothers, screened it with the sound off, and played Neely's soundtrack instead. Shortly thereafter, website Illegal Art made Neely's work available for free download. In the following year, Neely also performed Wizard People live in several cities, until Warner Brothers took action against theatres that had rented prints, and forced them to cancel the shows. Rather than taking legal action, however, Warner Bros. reportedly told theaters which had scheduled a performance of the show that further movies produced by the studio would be withheld unless the dates were cancelled. Carrie McLaren, whose web site, Illegal-art.org, promoted the work, claimed that Mr. Neely's use of appropriated plot, characters and themes interlaced with humor constituted a separate work of art in its own right.

Humor

Neely's writing ranges from simple childish mockery of the characters, to criticism of the acting and set design of the movie, to awkward metaphors in the prose of the "book", to over-dramatic philosophical speeches. Harry himself is repeatedly referred to as a god, and references are made to the "stockpiles of nuclear-level energy" that are his powers, and so on. At one point, Harry calls himself a "beautiful animal" and a "destroyer of worlds". He also repeatedly affirms that he is "Harry fucking Potter". Hermione is repeatedly described as incredibly ugly, Snape is referred to as a hideous woman, and at one point, Neely simply remarks that "Ron loves Twizzlers." Less consistent descriptions include a range of other insults, and Harry is also described with various symptoms of dissociative identity disorder, at one point "leaving his multiple personalities in the locker room." The use of spells receives similar twists, with Dumbledore casting the "stand without effort" spell due to his advanced age, while Harry casts the "rarely used winter be gone spell" at a scene transition between winter and spring.

The work makes extensive use of simile; Professor McGonagall is described as having a voice that is "chilling, like a piano made of frozen Windex," while her "eyes float like smears of fish-scales on her candle-wax stump of a head"; the face of Voldemort "moves like a marmalade baby just out of the womb."

Neely segues into multiple fantasy sequences that have nothing to do with what is actually going on in the film. One such scene is where Hagrid is explaining Norbert's egg. Instead of regaling Hagrid's encounter with a strange man in a bar, Haggar (what Neely calls Hagrid) tells of how Val-Mart (Neely's version of Lord Voldemort) impregnated him with the egg and then how, because of his pregnancy, he survived a shark attack. Another such scene is where the trio of young wizards encounter Fluffy for the second time and are about to jump down the trap door. Hermione is killed and resurrected without those events occurring onscreen. Numerous references are made to characters taking out flasks and taking long draughts while no flasks make an appearance onscreen, and Harry is mentioned as performing many "Wine out of nowhere" spells and being "drunk every day before noon". The most elaborate divergence is the sequence where Neville ("the boy known as Upfish") loses control of his broom: this becomes so much background noise for Harry while he daydreams about his parents' giant rotten wedding cake that he can only reach by climbing up Dumbledore's body ("using his old ribcage, mouth sockets and such for footholds").

There are also many references to other works throughout the film. Professor Flitwick is referred to as "Professor Ugnaught" in reference to his similar appearance to the Ugnaughts of Bespin in The Empire Strikes Back, with even futher references to this film with the plot being changed to make Voldemort Harry's true father, à la Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker's "I am your father" moment. At one point he puts on the invisibility cloak and Neely exclaims "Invisibility ON!", referring to the catch phrase of The Human Torch of the Fantastic 4. Neely even refers to future films in the series when he claims that the children are on their way to the Chamber of Secrets.

The narration is divided into 33 chapters despite Neely stating that there are 35. Neely omits Chapter 20, and Chapter 35 does not really concern the plot and is just the credits and a thank you.

Naming

A major running joke is the changing names of characters and locations:
Original "Wizard People" Name
Albus Dumbledore Dumbledore the Half-dead / Near-Dead Dumbledore
Minerva McGonagall Hardcastle McCormick / Softcastle McCormick
Rubeus Hagrid Hagar the Horrible
Harry Potter H.P., Master P, and others
Dudley Dursley (Ragtime) Roast-Beefy O'Weefy
Vernon Dursley various names with a pig theme (e.g. Porkstar, Baconface, Gigglesnort etc.)
Professor Quirrell Professor Queerman
Mr Ollivander Ed Vanders
Voldemort Val-Mart the Scar Maker / Scar Artist / Dracula
Ron Weasley Ronnie the Bear / Ron Weasel
Molly Weasley Irish lady
Hermione Granger The Wretched Harmony / The Wretch
Neville Longbottom Upfish
Marcus Flint Joey Lumbermouth / Woodpile
Adrian Pucey Ernie
Draco Malfoy Mouthoil / Malfoil
Argus Filch Dazzler (Man-servant to Bloody-eyed Cat / the Cat's whore)
Mrs. Norris The Bloody-eyed Cat/Head of Security
Severus Snape Snake, Hideous Woman, Wicked Woman
Madam Hooch Catface Meowmers
Oliver Wood Major Wood
Professor Flitwick Professor Ugnaught (The Happy Pizza)
Nicolas Flamel Nick Flannel
Remembrall blood ball
Quidditch Cribbage
Diagon Alley Calgon Alley
Gringotts Bank The Goblin Bank of Wobblecolumns
Hufflepuff Hufferpuffer
Ravenclaw Viacom
House Cup Stanley Cup
Hospital Wing The nurse's zone of awesome bedtime suckers
Restricted Section Adult books
Nimbus 2000 Necro-be-Nimblo Alla Fossa Gosso
Quaffle The big ball
Seeker Sneaker
Keeper Goalie
Centaur man-horse
Devil's Snare Spaghetti
Gryffindor common room Gryffindor parlor
Owl Post office bird
The Mirror of Erised The Gate of Heaven
The Sorting Hat Oogity-Boogity hat / grinding hat
The Bloody Baron The Count of Reeds

The CDs

This soundtrack is composed of two audio CDs, which were made available for free download in MP3 format. The CDs must be played simultaneously with a DVD of the first Harry Potter film, preferably the North American DVD, muted or at low volume.

Two versions of the CD set have been released, the first in summer 2004 and the second in early-mid 2005. As of February 2007, only the second version is available on the Illegal Art website, while the original is available at Brad Neely's website, creased comics. The two versions are very similar: differences include "fixing" the weaker lines from the first version, and a more "polished" and thoroughly-rehearsed performance by Brad.

The first version's CDs can be played completely continuously, and there is no need to alter the discs' timing or volume. In order to play the second version continuously, a delay of approximately three seconds must be inserted between the CDs, and the tracks' volume must be normalized, as the first disc is significantly quieter (approximately 7.7 decibels less) than the second.

Since the CDs are designed to synchronize with the North American release of the film, played at 24 frames per second, the PAL video transfers of the film (used in most of the rest of the world) suffer from a technical incompatibility, meaning that they run at 25 frames per second, so the MP3 files must be sped up by 4.2% (or the movie slowed down) in order to retain synchronization. The Canadian release of the film also uses alternate takes to refer to the titular stone as the Philosopher's Stone (the original name) rather than the Americanized "Sorcerer's Stone" (even though the Canadian case does say Sorcerer's Stone), and as such, the audio may get slightly out of sync as the film progresses on the Canadian DVD.

A DVD featuring the Wizard People soundtrack combined with the background music and sound effects of the original movie was made by an anonymous Denton, Texas resident. The disc includes a menu with background music by Harry and the Potters after a sarcastic piracy warning. Additionally, two students at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA created a hacked DVD which includes Neely's audio along with all the original DVD features.

See also

References

External links

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