December 2, 2020

Goodbye, Harry Potter

Spoiler Alert: If you do not know how the Harry Potter series ends, skip the third paragraph.

I remember my aunt handing me the Sorcerer’s Stone. I’m referring, of course, to the first book in the Harry Potter series, not the stone itself. That would make for a very different article.

This book was comparatively thick from others I was used to reading, and therefore it seemed daunting to my ten-year-old self. My aunt, eager to get lost in the wizarding world right along with me, read it aloud, careful to read the dialogue in a British accent. We finished the Sorcerer’s Stone, then Chamber of Secrets. She even bought me books about Harry Potter (see Quidditch Through the Ages, it’s a real page turner when you’re ten) Soon after, I was reading them alone.

However, that was not when Harry and I became close. My love for Harry peaked just this last July, when he himself died in order to kill Voldemourt and return the wizarding world to safety. Harry, along with Hogwarts’ other allies, finally conquers evil with love and proves once again why Deathly Hallows grossed $169.2 million in its premiere weekend according to the Associated Press, and has grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. Rightfully so, as the movie was produced exceptionally.

After seven other films behind it, the series could have gone out with a lackluster bang and it would have been just as lucrative at the box office purely because of the fan following.

However, director David Yates doesn’t use this time to be lazy. This is Yates’ fourth film to direct in the series, and it’s demonstrated while Yates maintains the same style as most of the other films, in Hallows Part I and II, the special effects are about as stunning as they’ve ever been.  Deathly Hallows Part II is much better than it needed to be, certainly doing the unimaginable complexity of the series justice.

However, this fantastic complexity portrayed on the screen was the kiss of the death for me on the page. Around the time the series became globally popular (it’s printed in 63 languages), I lost interest in the books. I had friends demolishing them, completing 600 pages in single nights. I couldn’t even start them.  In fact, Book 4 sat in my locker for my full sophomore year. I didn’t even bother buying them after that.

It’s no reflection on J.K. Rowling. I found the books I did read to be intriguing, pleasantly complex and dare I say it, magical.  But once the books complicated past sorting hats and Quidditch, I just wasn’t invested enough to sit down regularly and devour hundreds of pages about horcruxes (magical objects).

This in no way means that I am against Harry Potter or the books cataloging his years at a magical high school. Harry Potter is a story of unfailing loyalty, good defeating evil and fighting for what you believe in. Granted, the characters are fighting for justice on giant chess pieces, but that’s all the better.

I completely understand the Harry Potter explosion. Had I had less of a bias against lengthy novels, I would’ve been waiting in line for them right along with everyone else. But I was waiting to see unfailing loyalty portrayed on screen, and so after the Deathly Hallows book was released in 2007, I shamelessly kept it to myself that I had absolutely no idea how the series ended.

That’s when, when I walked into Auditorium 13 on the evening of July 14th, I was nervous to admit (even to my friends) that I was a fraud. I didn’t know whether Harry lived or died. Filling into the crowded auditorium, I realized it didn’t matter that the Goblet of Fire sat unread on my shelf…still. I was there with 200 other people who only wanted to see Harry be victorious. When my friends finally caught on that I didn’t know the ending, they were respectful of it. They knew I was a “Deathly Hallows virgin” if you will, and they weren’t about to spoil for me what had been such a long time coming event for them.

An event six years in the making, in fact! On November 16, 2001, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released and that’s when Harry and I met. I went from seeing it out of social obligation (I wasn’t about to be the only third grader who hadn’t seen Harry Potter) to walking out of the theater still in a daze from Harry’s first year at Hogwarts.

Despite my neglecting of the books and me initiating our parting shortly after reading Chapter 1: The Riddle House, in the Goblet of Fire, I was glad to see the movies and for eight midnight premieres. I lined up with millions of other Potter fans.

Between the books and the movies, children, teens and adults can enjoy Harry Potter. Many have appreciated the themes that the Harry Potter story offers in a setting to escape in. Hogwarts is beautiful on screen, and there they teach more than just Defense Against the Dark Arts. They teach young adults the value of humility, how to fight for what you believe in, and why (once a year) rebellion is better than any spell.

Have a Harry Potter story? How did you feel about the ending? Leave a comment below.

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