Link to the Past: Harry Potter

logan j. fowler looks back at the biggest franchise in cinematic history as it draws to a close …

“Harry is the best hope we have. Trust him.”

And in that, we have. On Friday, July 15, 2011, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 will be released in theaters, being the last call for all things Potter in the movie universe. Religious fans of the series are buying tickets up left and right for their viewings of the final Potter movie. Midnight showings have sold out all over the place. However, I went online way in advance to search for available showings at that time and thankfully locked it down. (I will not be alone, as my lovely girlfriend and fellow Potter fan will be in my company for the finale.) 

A lot of loyalists to the franchise are becoming upset as the world J.K. Rowling created reaches its cinematic close. The books wrapped up the saga four years ago, and while merchandise is still abounding and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter still enchants fans in Islands Of Adventure (located in Orlando, Fla.), “the boy who lived” will place his wand down for good when the film is unleashed to the public, leaving many excited but also melancholy that as the posters for the film states “It all ends — July 15.” 

Back in 2001, no one ever could’ve guessed that 10 years later we would have a massive movie property that raked in over billions of dollars — but it has. Potter fans have stemmed out of watching the movies, and those people took to reading the books, a massive achievement for the literary world.

I too was one of those people, as I saw the first two Harry Potter films before reading the books. Once I completed watching Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber Of Secrets, I bought the first four books (the only ones available at that time), and breezed through them in under a month. Good timing on my part, I guess, as Prisoner Of Azkaban, my favorite book in the series, was being released the summer after I read the first four books. Critiquing the film, I liked the look of the movie (Azkaban) compared to the first two films, as it was darker, but as an adaptation of my favorite book, Prisoner Of Azkaban failed to match the excitement that I had while reading. Regardless, it’s still a good film.

I won’t review all the movies, but it’s important to make mention that while there are pros and cons in every film, whether comparing it to the books or just movie additions, the Harry Potter films are all enjoyable. They may rank in quality (some aren’t bad, some are good, some are excellent), but for a franchise containing seven movies and with an eighth to come (which has gotten rave reviews already), it really is a stellar achievement that the movies haven’t been so bad to the point of being negatively reviewed or hated. Now, maybe that’s just MY opinion about the movies, maybe certain folks hate a specific Harry Potter film or dislike a couple films in the bunch, but while I nitpick pieces here and there, all the films in the series have been entertaining to their credit.

Also to the credit of the series, except for one unfortunate actor leaving due to his passing (Richard Harris played Dumbledore in the first two films, but died, leaving actor Michael Gambon to replace him in the movies), the Harry Potter films have succeeded due to the actors reprising their roles. From movie one to movie eight, each of the same people have come back to play the characters they formed over 10 years ago, making the actors become so in tune with these characters that they ultimately became them. Will we ever see them as anyone else? Maybe not, but a lot of actors got their start with this franchise, especially Daniel Radcliffe (Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger). The three of them have seemed very humble and thankful for the series of films, as it gave them their spotlight, and even now, as they move on, they are ready to do so, but also semi-upset that they are leaving behind characters they started playing since they were young children.

When we were introduced to Harry, he was 11, learning about this magical world around him, and forming friendships with Ron and Hermione. He faced his foe who killed his parents and tried to kill him. He quickly learned that there was a war brewing between the supporters of the dark lord Voldemort and Harry’s back-up. At a mere 16 years old, Harry discovered that in order to defeat his nemesis, he must destroy seven artifacts that hold Voldemort’s soul, called horcruxes. In the final film, Harry sets out to complete his mission, getting rid of the horcruxes and facing Voldemort in the final showdown.

So why the fans, why the movies, why the love? What is so special about Harry Potter? Well, from my own perspective, Harry Potter is about the underdog, and everyone loves an underdog. Harry is not just an underdog himself, but Ron is as well, and so is Hermione. These three people become friends because in one similar sense they are all the same; they are all fighting for something. Harry fights for his parents and for what is good. Ron fights for his family and for his friends. Hermione fights for her friends as well, but also because she being of a non-magical family (unlike Harry and Ron), she has to prove she has what it takes and does so through a tremendous amount of study and practice. 

And what makes the underdog the underdog in the first place? The person is always put in some sort of extreme challenge that they themselves thinks they cannot overcome, but the audience knows that they can and roots for them. Harry is no different; he is an orphan who lived even though he was not supposed to, he was raised by a horrible substitute family, and now he must face the most powerful villain in the world of magic that was brought to us by books and film. In the end, the saga of Harry Potter is about the triumph of the human spirit, overcoming the odds, and doing what is right. When it all ends on July 15, many fans will weep, many fans will cheer, but most of all, all the fans will remember what Harry Potter, Ron Weasly, and Hermoine Granger were; heroes, and the world could never have too many of those.

Thanks guys. We’ll miss you. 


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