Updated: Feb 22
“The Boy Who Lived” -The first chapter of what was going to be one of the most successful book/movie series ever made. Hardly did I know then as I started reading it that this was going to be the case.And years later,I am quite glad how it has all turned out to be.
Such was the impact of the magic J K Rowling created for us ‘Muggles’ back in 1997...
I remember vividly my journey towards becoming a Potterhead.My nephew had a hard time convincing me to read Harry Potter.Somehow I couldn’t resonate with the idea of wizardry and magic and thought it would be a waste of time.A few months later,my cousin sister handed me a copy of ‘The Philosopher’s stone’ and asked me to have a go.By this time,the name started becoming popular and I finally sat down to read the first of the heptalogy.
My curiosity only began to increase page after page and by the time I finished off the first book,I was exhilarated.I couldn’t wait to lay my hands upon the next in the series..and then the next...and I never looked back...
I had always secretly wished Hogwarts to be true and maybe get a letter myself one day!
Then came the movies-needless to say,with lot of expectations.And they did exceed those,save a few times,much to the joy of the fans.
If you are a Potterhead as well,you know exactly what I’m talking about,don’t you?!
When things get really dark and times are really hard, there's something about Harry Potter that makes life richer. - Emma Watson
So,when the news of “Return to Hogwarts” began floating in the air,it sort of uplifted my spirits-with the same enthusiasm I used to feel upon the release of a new book or a movie of the franchise.
One thing about ‘Harry Potter’ is that the franchise came to be synonymous with my adolescence and growing up.Harry Potter was pretty much part of a major phase of my life.Each one of the ensemble cast still have a unique place in my heart.
Return to Hogwarts
It was amazing to see the cast come together ‘after all this time’ to recreate the captivating magic.Though some of those brilliant actors were missing-either due to their demise or due to their omission-the experience was no less satisfying.I was particularly happy to spot Daniel Radcliffe( the Harry Potter),Emma Watson(Hermione),Rupert Grint(Ron),Tom Felton(Draco),Helena Bonham Carter(Bellatrix) and Robbie Coltrane(Hagrid).There are so many things I liked and quite a few I disliked about those 102 minutes.
So shall start off with the positive,right?
I simply loved the way the magic was recreated with the famous Harry Potter music in the background with the invitation letters and the Platform Nine and Three-Quarters and the journey to The Great Hall.What more could you ask for?!
Arguably the best part in the reunion,it was cool to watch the three of them sitting together in what seemed like the Gryffindor Common Room as they discussed their auditions and some of their most favourite scenes.The chat between Emma and Rupert towards the tail end of the show is also notable.These three were destined to be Potter-Ron-Hermione at any cost!
What I liked the most was how they opened up about their insecurities amidst the recent fame they had,particularly about Emma revealing how she was even contemplating on quitting altogether.
The Directors’ perspective
It was quite good to see the four directors talking about the challenges they faced and how they coped with the weight of expectations on their shoulders.Of particular note would be of Chris Columbus as i feel it was a daunting task for any director to bring together a bunch of small kids to face the camera for an on-screen adaptation of a legacy series.The chat between Columbus and Radcliffe underlines the admiration the child characters had for him.
It was quite a surprise for me when both Tom and Emma opened up about their feelings for the other.You don’t generally expect a Gryffindor and Slytherin to go well together(not forgetting about Snape’s admiration for Lily,of course!) but from what we could understand,its high time one of them took the initiative and ask the other one out!
Well,maybe they would eventually!
At the Lestrange Vault!
One of those people who lighted up the whole show was Helena Bonham Carter aka Bellatrix Lestrange.I have always admired her role in the franchise and naturally a big fan.Little did I know that Dan had a crush on her!Still remember how he blushed as Helena laughed out at his autograph years ago.Her conversation with Gary Oldman was also quite appeasing.
Well,He Who Must Not Be Named made his appearance eventually and gave a detailed description regarding the work behind the scenes in his transformation.Ralph Fiennes was undoubtedly the best choice for donning the role of the villain as he did it to perfection,being a fine actor.
Tribute to the departed
A lot of actors-both big and small-departed by this time.It was befitting for them to be remembered but not without a tug at the heartstrings.It felt as if we lost our family members.The lit wands raised in unison as a salute to the bereaved souls expressed it all...
The ending was brilliant of course.There were a lot of emotions underway and there was that moment where we all never wanted it to end.The show-makers chose to end it with the most iconic lines of the series.It was a proof to the fact that these memories and moments would stay afresh in our memories,‘Always’!
So,what didn’t go right after all?
Inarguably there were quite a few glaring loopholes.
Its understandable of the difficulty for a proper reunion amidst the pandemic.Still,some absences could not be neglected.Of note were Michael Gambon(Dumbledore since Season 3),Maggie Smith(Professor McGonagall),Julie Walters(Molly Weasley) and David Thewlis(Remus Lupin) all of whom were towering presences in multiple seasons.Add to this list Robert Pattinson(Cedric Diggory)and you suddenly realise the injustice.
I was also expecting a round-the-table meet up of the major cast together rather than the one-on-one conversations between some of them.Somehow felt that it would be proper justice to a long-lasting franchise.
The Friends Reunion was in stark contrast with respect to this and that I feel made a big difference in its reception.
Also it would have been fair to allocate more time to the tributes and reflections of the cast members rather than a rushing through.Obviously,Alan Rickman(Snape) deserved more than a few references,being such an integral part of the movies.
Last but not the least,as a fan,I would have loved to see more of ‘Behind the Scenes’ rather than structured talks from the directors.
“It was a very good ten years!” Dan put it correctly; not just for the cast and crew but for the fans as well.To see your favourite characters from the literature come alive is nothing short of massive,especially when it is part of something big like Harry Potter.Though the franchise has a spin-off movie series in ‘Fantastic Beasts’, the truth is that it would never feel the same without these actors.
The legacy of these movies is that my children's generation will show them to their children. So, you could be watching them in 50 years' time, easy. I'll not be here sadly, but Hagrid will- Robbie Coltrane