From Hogwarts to Hallows: Growing up with Harry Potter
Commentary, Eming Piansay
Nov 19, 2010
It was around the time I was graduating from elementary school, and entering middle school that my grandfather handed me a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first book of the Harry Potter series. I know this is the wrong literary comparison, but it was like falling through an enchanted rabbit hole.
I was about 12, so it’s not surprising that I imagined myself as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, wielding my magic wand and flying on my broomstick during the epic Quidditch match against Slytherin. It sure beat the lackluster kickball sessions during recess I was forced to participate in.
When the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, finally hit store shelves, it was maybe the most joyous yet bittersweet moment I’ve experienced as a book nerd. For what was probably 10 years, I’ve grown up reading and sometimes re-reading Harry Potter and his many adventures. I was only one year older than Harry when I started reading the series, so I feel like I’ve grown up with him: coping with the feeling of always being an outsider, the stress of school, love and heartbreak. What’s great about the Harry Potter books is that the readers go through a lot of the same angst that characterizes Harry in the later books.
I wasn’t thrilled about the idea of Harry Potter being made into a movie. Films tend to suck the life out of the original story. I’ve never liked the idea that the way I imagine the characters is corrupted by whoever is cast in the role. And I admit, I wasn’t in love with the actors (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson) who were cast to play Harry, Ron, and Hermione. In the earlier films, Hermione’s character always bugged me. She was portrayed as a know-it-all, something that I felt wasn’t played up that hard in the books.
Those of us who were young enough to almost be Harry’s age when this whole thing started are now at the age where we’re older and are also on the verge of adulthood, just like Harry. Well, minus the magic wands and Death Eaters, of course.
But as the movies continued, the actors seemed to become more comfortable in their roles. Part One of Deathly Hallows is, arguably, the best out of the series so far, but that may change after Part Two comes out.
Deathly Hallows is considerably darker than any of the previous series. As Harry and his pals prepare to go wand-to-wand against Voldermort, the filmmakers don’t waste anytime recapping the previous movies.
Another indication that the characters have grown up is that this is the first film out of the series that doesn’t take place at the Hogwarts School. The break is very symbolic in showing the characters’ growth since the first installment. No longer sheltered (well, most of the time) on the grounds of Hogwarts, Harry is forced out into the real world where no one, not even Dumbledore (if he were alive) can protect him anymore.
While I’m pretty sure the decision to split the final film into two parts had to do with exploiting the fans as much as possible, I appreciate the subtle details that showed the relationship among Harry, Hermione and Ron to be as tight-knit as it was in the book. That’s the thing you notice most about people who have been around each other for years, they have little quirks and habits that come out when they’re around each other. That’s what really made me appreciate this film; it finely illustrated the human touch of friendship and loyalty that I saw as the foundation in all the books.
For Harry Potter fans, The Deathly Hallows is a riveting, action-packed, and sentimental first installment to the finale, which I imagine will be as gripping an ending as it was in the book.1 of 1