The day is Thursday, July 14th, 2011. The time is 8.30 pm. I’m writing this in present tense to relfect tension, not because I’m on my iPhone.
In front of me I see a man in his mid-to-late twenties, wearing a Gryffindor costume. He also has a fake scar sticker on his forehead. And I can also spot a plastic wand in his pocket. And get this - he’s wearing the Harry Potter glasses - and on top of that the 3D glasses (which were also shaped by like Harry’s glasses for this epic occasion).
No matter how I saw this poor man’s identity crisis - I was still the odd one out in this 200 muggles-plus line. Because all around me, were young men and women and boys and girls and parents with small children - with almost everyone dressed the same way; except for some parents.
This line had apparently formed at 6 pm. When does Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II start playing on the theatre screen? Midnight. 12 am. So why get in line 6 hours in advance?
Because at 9 pm this theatre is showing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, followed by the Part II at midnight. This exclusive show was a great way for the theatre to make some extra cash by just renting what I assume was the DVD for a $1 (I’m sure it wasn’t, but a projector reel of a year old film shouldn’t cost much right?). When I heard about this show, all I could think was - why would anyone pay to watch Part I of a film in a theatre, a film they quite possibly have already seen because if they hadn’t they wouldn’t even be showing up for Part II, and quite very easily just watch at home on DVD and save money before coming for Part II. But I was wrong. 600 tickets sold within 3 hours wrong.
But who was I to judge? My roommate and I bought our tickets the moment we heard about it. And why wouldn’t we? What person of my age - who literally grew up to the film’s 10 years and with Daniel Radcliffe from 11 years old in 2001, the year of The Sorceror’s Stone, to 21 years old in 2011, the Year of the END OF HARRY POTTER?
The film’s posters and trailers got it right. “It All Ends”. TV commercials. Billboards. Blimps (who uses those anymore?). Everywhere you go, no matter who or how old you are, you know that this film is Harry’s last battle against The-One-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
To say that this film was epic would be an understatement.
It was colossal.
And while my experience watching it was a bit different than others (since I sat in the theatre for 6 hours), it seems appropriate for me to criticize the slow build-up (Part I) to the Battle of Hogwarts.
But it delivered. The Battle was epic. Reminded me of the Battle of Pelennor Fields from LOTR: The Return of the King - which of course is the greatest battle in the film history.
There is nothing to criticize. I am biased. I read the books but didn’t care too much about. The books don’t have characters that live and breathe. The books didn’t have faces. The books didn’t make us care like the way the films did.
When you’re adapting a film from already hugely popular source material - and when you’ve given 7 films that have all been faithful to the material - there isn’t much pressure of letting people down. And when you’re ending the story that makes the audience cry (Dobby) - you’re not going to be judged on the technicalities. This film will be watched by all, and even if some do criticize it, doesn’t mean they didn’t love something about it.
Those who discount the Harry Potter films for being too magical and wizard-like are misguided. While magic, and wands and potions and spells, are a part of the Potter universe, they themselves don’t command any emotional bond or excitement from the viewer. This franchise is not about a boy wizard. This franchise is about the Boy Who Lived. And while there are many typical scenes where Harry goes “No one else will die for me!”, there are many on his side to tell him that they aren’t doing it for him - and that it isn’t about him.
But this film is. This decade long journey is about Harry, and his audience. And perhaps Daniel Radcliffe, the actor playing Harry, like Harry, is blessed and cursed as well. He may have made over a $100 Million from his landmark role before he turned 21, but he will forever and ever remain Harry Potter. Maybe that’s a curse for him, but maybe that’s a blessing for those who’ve loved and lived Harry Potter’s journey with him.
Bottom line: This film was everything it should have been. This franchise is a classic that people will watch and talk about for a while.
It’s okay if you’re not a Potter fan. It’s okay if you’ve never seen any of the movies, or read any of the books. It’s okay if you think the movies are better than the books or vice versa.
It doesn’t matter. This film is a lot bigger that any of that. This film marks the end of a journey - for us. Anyone who has ever heard of the name Harry Potter is a part of it. The journey ends with this film. It ends with us. It ends in us. The story of Harry Potter is over. A multi-billion dollar franchise just took it’s last bow. Go witness it. Go be a part of it. Go, and let go, of Harry Potter and the magical place that you call Hogwarts.
Note: Steve Kloves, the screenwriter of all 8 Potter films, is also the screenwriter of "The Amazing Spider-Man" (2012) : directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Can't wait.