The end is here! After years and years of build up, the Harry Potter movie franchise comes to an end TODAY. Right now, we are equal parts unbearable excitement and devastated melancholy. The Harry Potter series – both the books and the movies – happens to be one of our favorites and for years has been a huge part of our geek-loving lives, so it is so very sad to see it all end today.
In honor of the end of an era, we’ve decided to see our childhood hero go out with a bang. We invite you to join us on a stroll down memory lane as we revisit our favourite things about the Boy Who Lived and his friends (and foes)…starting with how we came to know and love Harry Potter.
It wasn’t exactly childhood for me as I was in my early twenties when I decided to read the first Harry Potter book. I was still living in Brazil at that time and it was a Uni friend of mine who suggested it to me. I had just started reading fantasy novels, having finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy and was searching for more in that same vein (it has to be said that Brazilian publishers back then did not publish a lot of Fantasy and I was a very frustrated reader at that stage). Enter Harry Potter: I read the first one and loved it so much, I ran to get the next three books which thankfully were already published.
Then came the nearly unbearable wait for the 5th book – a wait that was even worse for us in Brazil because there was usually a gap of 6 MONTHS between the official release and the translated work. But I couldn’t wait that long and I bought the imported copy (for so much money, you wouldn’t believe) and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was the first ever book I read in English. What a milestone in my life and all because of Harry.
It was also the last book I read in Brazil – I moved to England a few months after that and was able to read the final two books in the series at the same time as everybody else and more than that: I participated in the excitement and build up that led to each book’s publication which added an extra layer of awesomeness to the proceedings. The last one was particularly important because Thea and I had our first read-a-long with it.
I have a more complicated relationship with the movies: I love watching them as visual embodiments of my beloved books but oh boy, they do frustrate me sometimes when they fail to convey some of my favourite things about the books. Having said that, I have waited for each of them anxiously, watched them on premiere night and many times after that.
I love these books. I love this world. I love these characters. I am a FANGIRL: I read all the books at least three times, I watched all the movies at least four, I went to Harry Potter World and made it to the Harry Potter Exhibition in NY. Quite often I get very morose and think that it has been a while since I felt such level of excitement and commitment to a series of books. I miss this feeling so much.
Like many folks currently in their twenties, I kind of grew up with Harry, Hermione and Ron. True, I started the series a little late, before the first film came out (at the ripe old age of fifteen), at which point I rapidly read through the available novels, each one better than the last. By the time I read Prisoner of Azkaban, I was head over heels in love. Each passing year, Harry Potter would become a huge point of contention in my house, as my little sister, mother and I would fight over who got to read the new book first (the showdown over The Order of the Phoenix was EPIC). By the time of Half-Blood Prince, I was in university, and I fondly remember waiting in line at midnight for the book…and then having to go to my internship the next day. Not only was I exhausted, but I OF COURSE had that enormous, irresistible green-covered book sitting on my desk, beckoning me to read instead of work on spreadsheets. (I’m not too ashamed to say I gave in to that temptation.) And then…it was time for the grand finale. The pièce de résistance. The Deathly Hallows.
By this point, Ana and I were already online forum buddies (thank you, Lost!) and I very clearly remember the lead-up to the release of the final book. Ana waited impatiently by her mailbox, while I attended yet another midnight party at my local Borders, dragging along the poor boyfriend (who was completely mystified as to why i would wait in line at midnight with a bunch of kids and parents for a book I could easily buy at Target or something the next day. MEN! They don’t understand!). And then, both Ana and I had our books and it was ON. Both of us tore through the book, posting in our forum spoiler thread EACH HOUR with updates as to how far we were, what was happening, along with general ‘OMG NOOOOOOO!’ type of comments, and so on and so forth. It was beautiful madness.[1. In retrospect, Ana and I are freaking GEEKS. Seriously.]
And that’s just the books! The movies added another layer of awesomeness to the Harry Potter experience. My significant other and I met my first year in college, and I remember dragging him to watch Prisoner of Azkaban for a midnight show (I almost dressed up, but I didn’t want to scare the poor guy off). Though he hasn’t read any of the books to this day, he has become a proud Potter fan and we’ve enjoyed each subsequent movie together.
I guess that’s the thing about Harry Potter. Harry’s not just a brave young man that saves the world, or a bestselling, multimillion dollar brand. Harry Potter embodies so much more because he’s a generational icon. Like so many other young adults around the world, I grew up with Harry. And now, my twenty-odd year-old self is so very happy to see Harry finally conclude his adventures – but it’s a bittersweet farewell, since it means growing up, myself. I love you, Harry Potter. And I’m going to miss you more than I can say.
And now that we are done with the dramatically emotional opening here are a few of our Favourite Things about Harry Potter….
Ana: This one is easy peasy: it’s a tie between Prisoner of Azkaban (for its awesome plot) and The Deathly Hallows (for the emotional impact).
Thea: Prisoner of Azkaban was my first and truest love, although The Half-Blood Prince gives Sirius a run for his money. The revelations! The HORCRUXES! My mind. It exploded.
Ana: Prisoner of Azkaban by far: I love the photography and the colours in that movie and of course since it follows the book pretty closely, it has the coolest plot and ending of all books so far. Mind you, this might change tonight.
Thea: Word. Cuaron’s take was one of the most loyal and seriously – one of the hardest books to translate to film. Plus, DUDE. Sirius Black played by the phenomenal Gary Oldman. There’s no contest.
Favorite Main Character:
Ana:That would have to be Hermione Granger, who is one of my favourite heroines of all time. I also love Emma Watson so she is my favourite character in the movies too.
Thea: Ahh, this is tough. I love Hermione so much, that insufferable little know-it-all with a huge heart. But my favorite character has to be Ron Weasley. He’s hilarious, he’s brave, he makes blunders but finds a way to fight back and redeem himself.
Favorite Secondary Character:
Ana: This is a tough one, I love so many characters in this series. I think I would have to go with Sirius Black. No. Wait: Neville Longbottom. Yes, because he has one of the best arcs in the entire series and for one moment there, I actually thought he was more important than the title character (yeah, I know. I was delusional).
And this is one of my biggest gripes about the movies: that Neville didn’t get a lot of his backstory there.
ETA: OMG what I am saying? Of course my fave secondary character is Severus Snape. And may I add that I totally, completely KNEW that he was on the Light side of the Force from the start? I totally did.
Thea: I am one of the few that wanted Snape to be eeeeeevil – not that I’m complaining because his arc is so touching. But for secondary characters, DUH, Sirius Black. Poor Sirius has to go through so much, losing his best friend, being framed for their murders, being despised by his godson, and then he shakes off all that ugliness and reconnects with the one person in the world that truly matters to him…and then it’s all taken away. I’m getting emotional here.
The other secondary character I have to give a shoutout to is Luna Lovegood. Not only is she a fantastic character in the books, but her portrayal in the films is perfection. Gotta love Loony Luna.
Favorite Non-Human Character: (We are totally cheating with this one, so that we can pick more characters!)
Ana: Easy: Dobby.
Thea: BUCKBEAK, FTW! He got to beat up snotfaced little Malfoy. ‘Nuff said.
Most Devastating Moment:
Ana: Another tie: there are many devastating moments in this series but the one that has stayed with me the longest is that one moment in Prisoner of Azkaban when Sirius Black invites Harry to go live with him and then for a few hours Harry thought he was free from the Dursleys forever as he would be living with someone who actually loved him and he was so happy and then and then the whole thing happens where Sirius has to go on the run and Harry has to go back to Privet Drive. It kills me every time. This scene was not very well done in the movies at all – it lacked all the emotional impact from the books.
The other one that I loved so much, was the Snape-is-not-a-villain-look-into-my-eyes moment. I always KNEW that Snape was one of the good guys but that scene slayed me when it became clear of what he went through….for luuurve.
Thea: In the books, I think the entirety of The Order of the Phoenix counts as devastating. Harry is so ANGRY that entire book, and I am sad that the film didn’t really capture his rage and sense of impotence. Having to live with the Dursleys, being ignored by Dumbledore, having to deal with the fact that Ron and Hermione were picked as prefects while Harry is left alone…it’s so hard to read that book. And then of course…there’s Sirius. The entire battle in the Department of Mysteries is plenty devastating.
In the films, that moment where Harry and Sirius are fighting back to back Death Eaters in the Department of Mysteries and then Harry gets one and Sirius says, “Nice one, James!”
And then Bellatrix comes in and… *SOBS* I can’t talk about it. Good GOD, my Sirius. I was sobbing when I read that part in the book, but I sobbed even harder in the film. David Yates did a brilliant job choreographing that emotionally charged scene. And that “Nice one, James!” gets me every. time.
Coolest Fist-Pumpy Moment:
Ana: It is a tie. I will never forget when George and Fred left Hogwarts in all their awesome glory in Order of the Phoenix in retaliation to Dolores Umbridge. It was such a fist-pumpy moment. And then of course, Mrs Weasley’s showdown against Belatrix Lestrange in the last book: Not my daughter you bitch!
Thea: Oh my GOD Mrs. Weasely’s moment is so freaking awesome. But I HAVE to concur that Fred and George tearing up shit and leaving Hogwarts in a blaze of magical firecrackery glory is absolutely the most fist-pumpy moment.
Ana: Dolores Umbridge, although Bellatrix Lestrange comes in a close second. I always thought that Voldemort was a tad ridiculous.
Thea: Bellatrix, without a doubt. She’s CRAZY, people. And Helena Bonham Carter is freaking perfect for the role. I’m not saying Voldemort because, come on, that’s easy.
Ana: Ooooo. Interesting one. I love the sound of the majority of the spells in the series. I would have to go with Expecto Patronum though. I have a t-shirt and everything.
Thea: Can I say polyjuice potion? I know it’s not a spell, but it’s such an important potion in the overall series. For a traditional, wand-waving spell, I don’t think you can overrate the importance of Expelliarmus. On a side note, can I say how awesome it is that the books and films have preserved a great sense of character and reality with the spells? Of COURSE these Hogwarts students wouldn’t know complex spells beyond what they’ve read in books or learned in classes, and thus they go back to old standbys 99% of the time (hence, expelliarmus). That is really cool. My least favorite spell is Petrificus Totalus. AKA, the cause of SO MUCH HEARTACHE.
Favorite Romantic Couple:
Ana: Of course I rooted for Ron and Hermione through the series and of course I was happy for Gin and Harry in the end but really, the best romantic couple has got to be Lupin and Tonks *crai*
Thea: Ron and Hermione! Ron and Hermione! TINY BALL OF LIGHT! Bwahahaha!
Most Memorable Death:
Ana: OH MY GOD. I was stunned when Sirius Black died not only because Rowling actually went there but because it was so…uneventful. One minute he was there, the next…he wasn’t. I was sad about Dumbledore. I was devastated by all the deaths in the end but dudes. DUDES. I never sobbed as much with a character death as I sobbed when Dobby died. I was a total, complete mess.
Thea: Since I’ve already mentioned Sirius so many times, what about Harry Potter himself? When he goes, marching to his own death (ok, sort of death), I was crying my eyes out. The bravery in the face of oppressive, impossible hopelessness…
Although I will say Dobby’s death gives it a good run for its money. Actually, it’s Dobby’s funeral that got me – when everyone puts a piece of clothing in his grave *SOBS* Oh man, I am getting emotional just writing this post.
Which Hogwarts House Do You See Yourself In?
Ana: Oh please. Gryffindor all the way! Although if you go by each of the House Qualities, I would probably be sorted into Ravenclaw.
Thea: Of course I would love to be in Gryffindor, but honestly, I KNOW the sorting hat would put me in Slytherin. I don’t know how to feel about that. I do love the color green, so…
Coolest (non-wand) Magical Artifact:
Ana: The Marauders Map!!!! And the Time-Turner. I so wish I had one of those, can you imagine the amount of books I could read? And not really an artifact but BUTTERBEER: it is DELICIOUS.
Thea: Good point, dear Ana! But I’ll take the sword of Godrick Gryffindor, please.
Character You’d Most Want With You in a Fight Against Death Eaters:
Ana: I should probably say Harry Potter but nah, I will go with good old Dumbledore.
Thea: Mad-Eye Moody. He might be bonkers, but he’s a badass.
Most Important Storyline Excluded From the Movies:
Ana: HA.HA.HA. We could be here for hours if I were to go in detail. There’s the lack of general Nevilleness that makes me angry. There is the lack of House Elves that makes me depressed (Kreacher!). Where was the romantic relationship between Tonks and Lupin (no, showing up already married doesn’t count)? How about the entirety of Half-Blood Prince? This movie makes me rant every time I watch it. They simply removed the entire Half-Blood Prince storyline from a movie that is called the THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. *hysterical laughter* And no, having Snape going all “I… am…the…Half-Blood PRIIIIINCE” in the end is not ENOUGH. Oh my nerves. But above all, the most important thing excluded is just one simple thing: a Petrificus Totalus spell. They never used it in the aforementioned movie in the end and it makes me so angry because Harry Potter would never, ever just stand there seeing Dumbledore get killed if he wasn’t petrified. Come on, now.
Thea: There are so many things that I wish were included in the films. I wish they had more quidditch, to show the lighter side of HP. I wish they had more of the House Cup competitions, the snootiness of Malfoy and his lackeys at being Prefects. The character of Percy Weasley was almost completely written out of the films, and that was a hugely important, if infuriating, part of the books. Dumbledore and the revelations in that final book – his early days, his family history, etc – have also been glossed over, and that’s really annoying. I also don’t think the films captured how truly terrifying and oppressive Voldemort’s return was for the wizarding world; remember those charms that Fred and George were selling, and the general feeling of incredible paranoia? Atmospherically, I didn’t get that in the last two films.
But I think the thing that I miss the most was the plight of the House Elves (and Hermione’s efforts to help them). With this, Dobby’s help and death means so much more. Kreacher’s help and the house elves rising up to fight the Death Eaters means SO MUCH MORE. I wish it could have been included, at least in passing.
Our Fervent Hopes For the Last Movie:
Ana:Right. These are the four scenes I am most psyched about seeing in the big screen and I am hoping, and crossing fingers, and lighting candles that they will be done well:
1) Neville Longbottom’s Big Moment. You know which one I am talking about:
2) Ron and Hermione’s first kiss
3) The big showdown between Mrs Weasley and Belatrix Lestrange
and of course, the One Scene to Rule Them All:
4) The Snape-is-a-Good-Guy Moment.
I really, really hope these four scenes are everything I dreamed about when I read the books. Anything else done right will just be the cherry on top.
Thea: YES to everything Ana said. I would agree those are very, very important – so I’ll just add to the list:
1. The Gringotts Heist – I know, I’ve seen the previews and the early reviews say it looks fantastic, but I was SO scared they were going to cut this out of the films when we didn’t see it in the last movie. I love heists. This is going to be EPIC.
2. Harry’s Death/Limbo Scene – Do I need to explain this?
3. KREACHER and the rise of the House Elves – Dudes. I was SO emotional when I read this in the book.
“Fight, fight for my master, the defender of the house-elves! Fight the Dark Lord, in the name of brave Regulus! Fight!”
I have a sinking feeling this will be cut out of the movie, but man, it really moved me in the books.
4. Snape. It bears mentioning again because dudes, it is so so so powerful.
5. George and Fred. Because guys. BECAUSE.
And that’s it from us! What about you? Care to share your Potter experience and your hopes and wishes for the very last film?