It is with a sense of both excitement and sadness that Potterheads alike go to the movie theatre in droves, to catch the final glimpse of Harry Potter, as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two opens in theatres on Friday. JK Rowling has appeased fans for the time being with one little tidbit; the opening of her new website, Pottermore in October, 2011 (http://www.pottermore.com/).
It goes without saying that fans will miss our hero, Harry, but what of the other characters, and aspects of the series? Here are the Top 10 Reasons we will all miss both the Harry Potter books and films.
10. The Magical and Mysterious
One of the most appealing aspects of the Harry Potter saga was the very fact that Harry is a magician. This opened a whole new realm of interesting possibilities, that engaged readers right from the very point that Hagrid informs our young hero: “You’re a wizard, Harry.” From Quidditch, to spells, the magical world that Harry exists in is ever-changing, and always fascinating. There are many magical extras embedded in the films, such as the paintings in the background that move (and often prove to be integral to the plot), or various magical props, like the Monster Book of Monsters, appearing in the third book and film, which attacked any student trying to open it.
9. The Fandom
For the final instalment of the Harry Potter films, movie tickets bought in advance, online, became some of the best-selling tickets of the year. Well-before the screenings, many were already sold-out. And in London, before the UK premiere, fans lined up for days just to score wristbands, to catch a glimpse of the stars of the film, one final time.
As the series grew more popular, with each release of a new Potter book, fans rushed to purchase it, endlessly breaking sales records. The final four books each set a new record for the fastest selling book in history, with the final book at sales of 44 million worldwide. There are countless websites devoted to the story, and fans will undoubtedly languish over Harry Potter for years to come, imagining different outcomes and plotlines for their favourite characters, post-Hogwarts.
8. The Sets and Costumes
The very descriptions of Harry Potter are enough that you can always picture the tale that Rowling is weaving, but one that still allows the reader’s imagination to take hold. From the perfect description of Harry, right down to his round glasses, and lightning bolt scar on his forehead, the image of our hero was set in our minds, right from the get-go. As a result, there has never been any shortage of grandeur when it came to the film adaptation of Harry Potter. From the quaint Dursley home, to the richness of the Malfoy Manor, or the breathtaking Hogwarts castle, with its moving staircases and paintings, the sets of the films were always over-the top. One of the best examples has to be the elaborate sets that were constructed for the fourth film, with the Tri-Wizard Tournament. And the costumes, set against these magnificent backdrops, are always perfectly crafted, right down to the last frilly ruffle on Ron’s maroon dress robes.
7. The Evil Characters
There is no shortage of mystery and intrigue in the wizarding world. And unfortunately, much of this comes from the evil characters of the series. But, it wouldn’t be much of a story without antagonists like Draco Malfoy and his cronies, harassing Harry at Hogwarts, or the Forbidden Forest, where Harry unfortunately spends too much time. The fifth book has a perfect example, with the arrival of Professor Dolores Umbridge, a new teacher for Defense Against the Dark Arts, who turns out to be much more than the sweet old lady she seems to be. There are also many dangerous creatures in the magical realm, like werewolves and dragons, a fact that both Remus Lupin and Charlie Weasley know all too well.
6. The Actors
Speaking of the various evil characters that inhabit Harry’s life, there is also something to be said for the meticulous casting that went into the series. The roster of actors reads like a verifiable who’s who of impressive British actors. Two of my particular favourites: Alan Rickman as cleverly cunning Severus Snape, and Helena Bonham Carter as the fiendishly hysterical Bellatrix Lestrange. But these two actors are only drops in the pond of talent that abounds in the film. And that’s not even counting the unknown child actors who were cast, and had some large shoes to fill. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson have all proved themselves as fine actors over the years of the Potter films, and each has a bright future ahead.
5. Harry’s Friends
From their first meeting on Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station, Harry and Ron Weasley are instant chums. And the pair would never have gotten very far without their bushy-haired brainiac friend, Hermione Granger, despite a shaky first impression. The friendship and camaraderie that exists in the novels is continually heartwarming, especially given the difficult situations these three often find themselves in. Harry also gravitates to another misfit like himself, Hagrid, the enormous yet gentle giant who is the game-keeper, and occasional teacher at Hogwarts. Finally, there’s Harry’s pet, purchased by Hagrid, as a birthday gift, after they first meet. During the summer, she is Harry’s only companion, acting as a silent yet dignified link between Harry and the wizarding world.
Harry Potter would not be Harry Potter, if not for Voldemort. He would also be minus one very important lightning-shaped scar. Every good story needs a hero and a villain, and Voldemort has the villain role down in spades. Played impeccably by Ralph Fiennes in the film, He Who Must Not Be Named, or You Know Who, as many call him, cannot be fully described as just “evil,” as this would do a gross disservice to the creature that Rowling has created. Less human, and more snake-like, Voldemort is the epitome of everything dangerous, malicious and nasty of the wizarding world. Although Harry would likely be remiss to admit it, he and Voldemort are eerily similar in many ways. This is only compounded by that fact that due to Voldemort’s failed attempt at killing Harry when he was a baby, and his curse rebounded, the pair share a connection that runs deeper than Harry’s scar.
As the biggest influence in Harry’s life, Dumbledore is the mentor and father figure that our hero never had. It is Dumbledore that helps Harry put the pieces together of the puzzle that is his life. In the beginning, Dumbledore keeps some distance from Harry, but as the years pass, Harry grows older, wiser, and more in tune with the ominous direction his life has taken. He relies heavily on Dumbledore, to guide him through his difficult journeys, and his venerable professor is always on hand to help. Without Dumbledore, Harry’s life would have taken an extremely different path, and he likely would not have become the courageous young man he is the final film.
2. Cultural Impact
When JK Rowling approached 12 different publishing houses, and was rejected by each, she probably never knew that the novel she dreamed up while sitting on the train, would have the impact it has had, in the 14 years since it was first released. And Harry Potter can also boast the impressive feat of being read and adored by children and adults alike. What was meant to be a children’s book about magic, also found a comfortable niche among adult readers. It inspired generations of children to read, and the parents who were reading to them would often sneak a peek at the book when their kids weren’t looking. And for good reason, because as the books went on, the story of Harry Potter only grew darker and more mysterious, as the series grew up with its readers.
1. The Story
Harry Potter is, first and foremost, about the story. Whether you are a fan of the books solely, the movies, or both, as many undoubtedly are, there is no denying that the story of Harry Potter is one that has captivated millions, worldwide. What was once a bright idea that struck JK Rowling, while she was riding the train, is now the highest-grossing series of all time. It is quite the story that Rowling constructed over the years, although the author has said that she knew, from the very beginning, how the saga would end.
It is also a heartwarming story, of a boy who tragically lost his parents when he was a boy, and was reluctantly taken in by his aunt and uncle. Harry never fully understands who he really is, or where he came from, until he finds out that he is a wizard. Upon arriving at Hogwarts, Harry finally has a true home, and makes new friends, who become his very close family. Harry Potter is a story about much more than magic; it is about friendship, loyalty, honour, and courage. It is a story that has touched millions of readers and captivated generations. And it is a story that many will miss now that it is gone, but will never be forgotten.