Unlike most children in the world, my eight-year-old son isn’t very interested in Harry Potter – neither the movies nor the books. We have three volumes of the series on the shelves, which I’ve been planning to read with him when he’s ready, but he finds the length and the lack of illustrations daunting. The movies, he says, judging from the trailers, “are violent.”
Last night “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” was on TV. We happened to tune in halfway through. My eight-year-old daughter, who lights up in recognition whenever she sees a movie poster, immediately became engrossed in the onscreen action. Until recently, she has been happy just watching and imagining, but these days she wants to know what’s going on. So every few seconds, she would look at me in an inquiring way, waiting for me to interpret.
Harry Potter is pretty complicated and my signing is rudimentary. Plus, I didn’t really know what was going on, having missed the first hour of the movie. My rendering was very simple. I interpreted Professor Dumbledore as “grandfather teacher” and one entire conversation as “He doesn’t like Harry.” With over an hour left to go of the movie, I could tell it was going to be a long night. At the commercial break, I told Lilia that we would rent it at a later date and watch the whole thing from start to finish. And maybe, I thought wildly, I’ll hire a simultaneous interpreter so that Lilia will be able to understand what is going on.