I have an emotional connection to the characters and their journeys; I remember the midnight release parties, the frantic need to finish each new volume as soon as possible, the slow realization that J.K. Rowling was serious and would not spare us the ugly reality of death or torture or bureaucracy, that none of the questions about who was good or bad were as simple as we thought, that someone I cared about could die.
When I think of Harry Potter, I think of growing up, of how magical and exciting and scary it is.When the movies were first released I didn’t like them, for the same reason I don’t like wearing someone else’s sneakers. Even if they’re the correct size, they don’t feel right … they’re formed to someone else’s feet, not my own.
The films did not conform to my imagination of Hogwarts, and that ruined the magic for me. I expected this film to be the same as its predecessors, so I was surprised how familiar and right it felt. The actors have grown up with the characters too, and they’re more comfortable in them now, slipping into the scenes like putting on an old jacket, with an ease noticeably absent from the earlier films. Nowhere does that certainty show more than in the final installment.
I was not actually looking forward to seeing this film as much as those who have been subject to my persistent Harry Potter references would think. There was so much the makers could mess up.
Watching the Harry Potter movies in short succession is particularly interesting. The first two years at Hogwarts are bright and magical; by the eighth movie, the film is practically black and white, desaturated of even the little color present in “Part 1.” It mirrors the darkness of the world itself, all the magic and color of childhood drained, only stark reality left.
As we left, one guy sitting behind me said: “It’s been 10 years, and it’s finally over.” The sense of achievement, of completion, is palpable, and I could feel it ripple across the crowd. It was done, and we were satisfied.I skipped out on the theater experience for most of the previous movies, and I’m glad I didn’t for this one.
Even though they left out parts of the book, or even blatantly changed others — Harry very explicitly didn’t say goodbye to Ron and Hermione; the Voldemort of the novels couldn’t feel his Horcruxes being destroyed; Harry and Voldy did not wrestle with each other while falling off a turret and inexplicably clawing at each others’ faces — all of the changes made sense in the interest of time, pace, or avoiding the stilted feeling that comes from following the book too closely.