Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts

Posted Date: 2022 02 17 -

In this retrospective special, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson join filmmaker Chris Columbus and other legendary cast members as they journey back to Hogwarts to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter film.

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Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

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Review

Julie Straw

Reviewer


Review

Harry Potter 20 years later…

 

Literature became a love of mine at an early age. With a wild imagination and a thirst for knowledge, I became an avid reader, completely absorbed in any and all books I could get my little hands on. I found whole other worlds within the pages. I was transported with each sentence to another time, another place, or another emotion. Reading had become my escape. How I longed to be the character I had imagined in my mind’s eye and with almost desperation desired to partake in the same heroic adventures. Much of my time was spent nose deep in a book. Reality and what was happening around me didn’t matter when I had become engrossed in a story. I had my world in those pages and my own wild adventures within the confines of my cerebral cortex. I had spent many summer vacations entranced in fiction, staying up until the wee hours of morning, with empty promises to myself of just one more chapter and then I will go to bed. Nerd to the core, I have read entire series in a matter of a week, devouring words every extra minute available in the day and barely sleeping at night all because I could not bear to put down the book I was engrossed in until I knew how it ended.

I was a teenager when I was introduced to the Harry Potter series. At the time, there were only three books, a fourth was almost finished, and talk of the first film had just started. Like many stories prior, I ravished my way through the books. I was completely immersed in the story of the boy who lived and I could not focus on anything else until I had read every word. Unlike other books I had torn through, Harry Potter was different. Although the storyline consisted of completely fictional magical worlds, I found Harry to be entirely relatable. His past had found a way into my soul, forging a connection between us though our broken parts. Harry, much like myself, had been dealt a hard hand by fate. He had found himself isolated, neglected, and abused. Every person’s story is unique with its own struggles and prior hurts, but with Harry’s, I felt a kinship. Harry was a good kid that needed shown love, needed to be protected, and needed proof the world was not all bad. He needed something to believe in beyond the cupboard beneath the stairs.

I am sure I am not alone when as a youngster I had dreamt of having magical powers. It may have been the influence of certain movies, shows, and books. Or it may have just been the idea of having a special ability, something that could distinguish you from the others and make you almost invincible to the woes of ordinary people. When Harry Potter came into my life, he was everything I had ever wished to be. His unfortunate beginning had turned into a world filled with wonder and excitement. Where the first decade of his life was clouded with normalcy and mediocrity, that all had changed for him in as little as a night. No longer confined to his subpar life, he was now a part of a bigger world one where he was able to excel and sustain a fulfilling existence.

He had been able to step into a spectacular world full of enchantment and whimsy. He had been able to see a better, brighter side to life. Humbled as he was by his unfortunate upbringing, Harry took everything in with gratefulness. Even more than his sad start to life, Harry was relatable as a teen experiencing trials and tribulations. Struggles with confidence and finding your own voice in life is something many of us were able to understand. Harry allowed us to feel normal and let us know it was okay to be struggling with the same growths.

Finally, after what felt like forever, the series was made into live action. Awestruck and full of wonder, we were able to see our beloved characters as real people. The emotions we read in the books were now vivid on the screen. The awe of the aesthetics was enough to elevate the books even further. We watched as these normal children played our beloved hero’s. It’s hard to believe that all transpired twenty years ago. Harry Potter and his fantastic adventures with his loveable friends has been a part of my life for two decades now. I have watched and re-watched each film a dozen times, not mentioning the number of times I have read and reread each book.

For this special anniversary, the viewer is taken on a journey back through time behind the scenes to revisit the making of the Harry Potter movies. Filmed primarily in the castle where the movies were originally made, this special presentation is filled with interviews, discussions amongst friends, and heart felt moments reliving the 10 years it took to transform the book series into films. Cast members reminisce with such enthusiasm and passion the viewer can almost feel as though they too had been there during the filming. Moments of nostalgia as not only the cast have grown and matured but also the fans. Insights into how the magic and wonder were brought to life from written words on a page to the live action on the big screen. Watching their reunion is much like how it feels when reuniting with high school friends. Sharing laughter and tears, talking about the good times and the not so great. This emotional connection is what brings the anniversary special even closer to the heart of every viewer and Harry Potter fan.

A caring can be felt as the bond shared between Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Hagrid crossed into real life, forming a familial friendship between the actors. The Weasley’s became a real family for the actors, a home away from home. A humorous connection is shared with Daniel Radcliffe and Helene Bonham Carter as they reminisce that Daniel had once professed his love for Helene, wishing he was just ten years older so he could be with her. Mutual admiration is felt when Emma Watson confesses her prior crush for costar Tom Falcon, how it had formed a special friendship between the two full of platonic love. Many laughs were shared from antics the Phelps twins emanated not only on the screen as the Weasley twins but also in real life. Even Helene Bonham Carter had stolen the teeth she wore as her character Bellatrix Lestrange and hilariously wore them during her reunion with many of the cast members. Warmth is felt when the actors remember cast members that have since passed. These actors were friends and a makeshift family that had shared many moments in their lives and grew together.

What a magical treat it was to be privy to the tales behind the making of the movies. There were a few mistakes with the special that of course the media spread like wildfire. A photo of a young Emma Roberts was incorrectly used as one of Emma Watson and the Phelps twins were wrongly identified. I also found the lack of interviews with some of the powerful characters like Maggie Smith who played Professor McGonagall and use of footage from an interview J. K. Rowling did two years prior to be less than stellar. With an enormous franchise and an intimate experience reflecting on the past, why leave out some of the major players?

Those few mistakes and lack of presence from all the key characters aside, traveling back in time to my youth, a time when we were all growing and maturing into the young adults we have become today, was a special treat. Loved are the books to many of us, even more are the films. Actors and viewers alike have grown together and bonded on a universal level. Nostalgic and reminiscent, we were all able to revisit a time that is near and dear to our hearts. Harry Potter, the boy who lived, shall live forever.

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