At 23.40 on July 16th 2011, my childhood officially ended. I know, some may say you cannot put a limit on your childhood, others say that your childhood never truly ends. But bear with me a second, if you will. I just saw the final instalment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
(I did relive my childhood, as it goes, three days later when I saw it again.)
It’s been described as amazing, epic, the best of the lot, and I was definitely not disappointed, despite originally being a fan of the books. I’ve learnt to sort of separate the two, and I’ve not felt let down in the slightest.
While there was no specific sob-fest moment for me where tears streamed uncontrollably down my face, turning me into a mascara-stained howling wreck in the corner of Cineworld screen 12, instead there were many moments which made my eyes well up; Neville’s heroic speech to Voldemort, the final fall of Bellatrix at the hands of none other than dedicated mother Mrs Weasley, and Harry’s final walk through the Great Hall, past all the characters from the past seven year series, looking on as he goes.
Probably the highlight of the film was the flashbacks of Snape’s memories, revealing all the anomalies and unanswered questioned JK Rowling had left hanging for seven books. Finally we realised why Snape had seemed to be two-timing everyone all the time, why he never quite made sense, why Dumbledore trusted him. He was a good guy after all, and my heart really felt for him.
As a massive Lord of the Rings fan too, the epic Battle of Hogwarts scene echoed the Battle of Helms Deep in The Two Towers and the final Battle for Middle Earth in the Return of the King. It was definitely due to the splitting of the final novel into two parts that made it possible to spend the valuable time needed on this amazing sequence.
The special effects – as usual – were incredible, which I imagine will only be enhanced with 3D and some unique ‘Harry Potter’ style glasses. I especially liked the broomstick chase against the magical flames in the room of requirement and the nice scenic view of the Hogwarts grounds we got as Harry and Voldemort zoomed around the castle.
Perhaps we have to remember that the cringey ‘19 years later’ episode which finished off the eight film series is an effective way of rounding off what actually not an adults book, but a children’s one, though in reality it is somewhere in between. I highly doubt Harry would be greying by his late thirties or that Ginny would flick her hair so similar to the style of Nicola (the ginger one from Girls Aloud) despite knowing relatively little about the muggle world.
To enhance the personal aspect to the fighting action, however, I wish they’d been a bit more specific on the individual battles the characters had with Voldemort’s Army as it seemed at times to be a little detached.
I also felt that a few details from the book were missed out, such as Lupin and Tonks’ son, (of whom Harry was the Godfather and was meant to see off on Platform 9 ¾) was never acknowledged as being born at all. The first instalment mentioned “Wait until you hear the news… Lupin and I-” before being rudely interrupted by Mad-Eye Moody, whose death was also only glanced upon.
Fourteen years have passed since the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone was first published in the UK in 1997, which has led to the growth of Harry Potter into the most popular franchise ever. Hundreds of thousands of fans camped out to catch a glimpse of the cast before the premier in Trafalgar square and queued for hours to see the film at the midnight showings across the country. I personally own a Harry Potter hat, wand, broomstick (albeit borrowed), t-shirt, four video games, various sticker albums, all the DVDs of the films, a Potter pokedex style device, JK Rowling’s extra books ‘Quiddich Through the Ages’ and ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ and probably a bit more merchandise hiding amongst the rubbish in my wardrobe. I even dressed up as Ginny for World Book Day when I was about 11 (you’d be surprised at the lack of ginger characters there are in children’s books).
But what even is childhood? Can you really put a time limit on it anyway? The age of consent to have sex in Britain is 16, but does that make you an adult? The voting age is 18, but does having a say in the running of the country mean you are no longer a child? It is said that our bodies may not stop growing until our early twenties or our brain until our thirties. One could spend hours (and probably there are people that do) pondering the psychology of it all, the development of our brains and where childhood really ends.
For me, Harry Potter was my childhood, or at least the latter part of it. I remember when I was bought the first book for Christmas and put it on the shelf for later, thinking it looked a bit odd. As soon as I started reading it, however, I never looked back. All my copies are worn and battered from multiple re-reads, and there’s a ribena stain near the end of the fifth book too. The countless hours I spent reading until it was too dark to see or my torch batteries ran out remain priceless to me. The times I woke up during the night after a nightmare and would pick up the books, reading the chapters that comforted me again and again can’t be forgotten. The excitement of when the next instalment came out cannot be explained, and the hours which followed where I sat in my room reading it until it was done was only intensified by the joy of seeing scenes only ever imagined in my head played out on the big screen.
There are hundreds of thousands of people across the world who will never forget the magic that Harry Potter brought to their lives. Her ideas were inspirational to many, and the world she built up so easy to become wrapped up in. Despite the books and films coming to an end, as we all knew they would, no true fan will ever say goodbye to Harry, and those who were affected by him will never forget the laughter, the amazement and the tears that he brought them.
It’s ironic that as I wrote most of this entry, my boyfriend is sat beside me playing PS3 games. I think I might go and join him, but only to play Harry Potter. Never grow up completely.