Harry Potter, a Reflection from the Front Lines

15 Jul

The almost decade long journey of Harry Potter as chronicled in the books and the movies is about to come to an end. For so many young and old we’ve gotten caught up in the marvel and wonder of a world that we could actually imagine existing. I’ve read all of the books and have been diligent in seeing all the movies. I’m not a Potter fanatic, although I’m sure many of you know a few. I have a friend who has read every book in the series multiple times and knows its contents as if it were his favorite song.

I’d consider myself a casual Potter connoisseur.

It’s hard not to have gotten swept up in Potter Mania. When the books were still being published (from 1997 to 2007), it was a little disappointing to not have the movie releases coincide with the particular book. The first movie was released in 2000, the same year book 4 of the series was published. However, a decade later, one can’t help but to marvel at the movie franchise that has grossed over $2 billion in the box office and is now, according to Entertainment Weekly, the biggest franchise in Hollywood history (an honor that was previously held by the James Bond films). Do you remember the early concern and controversy over the bewitching undertones of the books and their possible effects on the minds of children? Alternately, do you also remember how it seemed to be the one children’s book series that adults and children alike loved? There were Potter parties, massive fan fiction written, and for a while Quidditch even seemed like it may become a real sport.

From the perspective of a public library librarian who was in the midst of the frenzy for the past decade, I am truly sorry to see it end. To this day our library has in storage multiple copies of each of the books in the series waiting to replace the well-loved and missing ones from the collection. Back in its heyday there was an entire shelf devoted just to the Harry Potter books and during the summers the shelf would sit empty. The excitement of books was echoed by that of the movies and the craze that came with the build up to each premiere.

Personally it was J.K. Rowling’s books that made me again interested in reading. The first few novels I read on my PDA. The novelty of being able to read it on a handheld device was exciting. I’d curl up in bed or grab a moment while waiting in a line and escape into that world. I inhaled it, its literary aroma wafting from the screen. Unlike other series before or since there was the excitement that came along with reading the books and then being able to see it all come to life in the movies. There is definitely something special when the original actors are present for a big budget 8-movie series. The casting of the characters we spot on. Alan Rickman made the perfect Snape while Daniel Radcliff, inexperienced and unknown, the perfect Harry Potter. And one must admit, it isn’t often where a book series and its resulting movies are both deemed successful in the way the Harry Potter has.

Harry Potter is like lightning in a bottle. Even if witches and wizards aren’t your thing the impact of Harry Potter on the publishing, merchandising, and movie-making world is unique. As the sun finally sets at Hogwarts and the wands retired to their…wherever they’re stored, we look back at this moment in pop culture and anxiously await the final film. Like the memory of a loved one, the memory of this endearing book and movie series will live on. And even though J.K. Rowling says she has no plans to write more Harry Potter novels, those just now getting into the frenzy of Potter can enter the interactive online supplemental world of which will launch this October.

Don’t allow the magnitude of Harry Potter to be lost on you. It’s a series (in book and movies) that is great for the family. As I sit in the IMAX theater watching the final film, tissue firmly in my grip, I will think only of the spell that Harry Potter has cast over me and so many others for such a long time.

This article appeared in the July 2011 issue of The ‘Ville.

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Posted by on July 15, 2011 in The 'Ville


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