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Harry Potter time turning

September 1, 2015

I confess that I’m an information junkie. I’m also fascinated by the myriad different ways of presenting information.

About a year ago, the excellent XKCD site had a post with movie narrative charts. They show the power of graphical display to convey information in a way not possible with words. Visual representation of film character groupings can be understood much more naturally. Symbols are used for particular event or action types.

These charts, particularly for The Lord Of The Rings, inspired me to try a similar thing for the ‘time turner’ part of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

I tried a couple of programs already on my PC, and ended up using the Microsoft Word drawing package, mainly because (a) it preserved lines and other chart objects as objects and (b) I more or less knew how to use it already. I have no idea how Randall Munroe did his XKCD charts freehand i.e. with no Undo button and no block move of sections of the chart as one part or another needed more space.

The PDF version of the chart is here. It contains one page with a version with explanatory notes and another version on another page without the notes. Use a program such as Adobe Reader if you want to print either or both pages as a poster. (There’s too much detail to display readably in less than A3 size at a minimum.)

HP3 time turnerThe chart looks like this…
(click on the image to download the PDF version).

I learned a number of things creating this chart…

The film runs more like a stage play, having a succession of scenes with very localised action. Lord of the Rings orLawrence of Arabia it is not. One of those things I knew but had not realised, if you know what I mean.

Hermione is clearly the main character in this part of the film, and – I think – the film as a whole. She is the main action person, she has many of the plot defining lines. Maybe the film should have been called Hermione Grainger and the Prisoner of Azkaban, except for reasons that Jano Caro reflects on in an excellent article (from The Age) here.

I started out with the chart more or less just showing the effects of the time turners (Hermione and Harry) on the others (including their earlier selves). Only later did I add the quotes, saved character instances and wand usage. I think the chart is now just about as dense as it can reasonably be (if not already over the top), so it’s time to hand it over to others to look at.

I am definitely interested in feedback on this, including suggested improvements.

P.S. This is a copy of a post on my other blog I was in two minds about which blog to use, so now it’s on both.

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