Friday, 15 July 2011

The Epic Conclusion of the Worldwide Phenomenon

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     This is the writing shown during the trailer for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Some people may say it’s an exaggeration to call it this, but I definitely disagree. The first book was published in 1997, so the series has been around for fourteen years now, and is just as popular as ever. If selling over 450 million copies of the books, which have been translated into over 70 languages around the world, and the franchise being worth around £15 billion isn’t a phenomenon, then I don’t know what is. Now, the series will never truly end, as we can go back and revisit the stories and introduce them to new generations, but the release of this last film does mark the end of any more books or films being released. It’s a sad day for fans around the world, who have grown up loving Harry’s stories.

    Personally, these books were a huge part of my childhood. It seems fitting somehow, that the first book was read to me in Primary 1 and the final film is being released the summer after my last year at high school. So for me, this film also marks the end of my childhood. These books are the reason I got into reading, and made me love it so much – proof within the fact that I’m going to study English Literature at university next year. I’ve always preferred the books to the films because they have so much more detail in them, but I can’t deny that the films are spectacular themselves. I love the fact that they are entirely British, as that is of course, where the books are set. The cast is excellent, with big names like Dame Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman, alongside those who started as newcomers ten years ago but have grown into brilliant actors and are stars in their own right, particularly Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson. The sets and special effects are all excellent, really making you believe this world exists. I have issues here and there with changes that have been made from the books (I abhor that Harry/Hermione dancing scene in Deathly Hallows Part 1), but overall they are incredible cinematic works, and I don’t doubt for a second the last instalment will disappoint, if the trailer is anything to go by.

    J.K. Rowling’s story-telling however, should never be under appreciated. These stories contain everything I love in a good book. Action and adventure keep us on tenterhooks, while the magic takes us to another world, yet one that isn’t entirely different from our own. Her characters are ones that we love and are all well-written and even realistic – the twisted, evil Bellatrix and Voldemort have strong fan followings, as well as characters with smaller, yet vital roles, like Dobby and Neville. And despite the immense task he has been set, Harry is modest and humble, and still comes across as a teenager like any other in some respects, (e.g. his girl troubles) which makes us like him all the more. Her characters also develop and mature, which again makes them more realistic. The hardest part of it all ending is saying goodbye to these characters. The books are complex enough for adults and children alike, as the plot twists and turns, and things mentioned early on in the series that seem interesting but overall unimportant turn out to be massively significant (the Invisibility Cloak being just one example). The smaller details of the books are some of my favourite parts, in particular the humour scattered throughout, even in the darkest of times, as well as unusual spells or touching moments between friends or couples.

     Harry Potter has been a success the world over, breaking countless records, but what I find more important is the way it touches individual people. These stories are full of lessons about love, friendship and courage. Harry teaches us strength, Hermione that it is ok to be smart, Ron loyalty and that it is ok to make mistakes, Neville bravery, Snape love, Luna that uniqueness should be appreciated, Dobby the value of friendship, the Weasleys the value of family, Fred & George humour, Dumbledore kindness… and many more no doubt. J.K. Rowling encouraged children to read again and in the process she provided them with role models and life lessons that would help shape them as good people. People all over the world have stories about how these books have helped them through difficult times.

     J.K. Rowling never dreamed that this series would be as successful as it is. Although I was sad when I finished the last book, I know it will be worse when the credits roll at the end of this final film, because there is nothing left to look forward to (Pottermore excluded) and my childhood is really over. Her characters have been some of my best friends and her stories will stay with me forever. I’m very excited about seeing the last final, as the trailer does look spectacular, but I’m quite sure I’ll be in tears by the end. But what I can’t express enough is my immense gratitude towards J.K. Rowling for creating these stories and sharing them with the world. Harry will live on in many of us and of course, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

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