Us millennials man, can’t seem to let things go, am I right?
But why would we let go of something so beloved, so cherished and held in the highest esteem of our generation’s zeitgeist? Harry Potter meant a whole lot to me as a kid and then some as a teenager, especially someone entering college and the “adult world”. It isn’t something I remember with kid googles on, unable to recognize the flaws (many I might add as I look back) but there’s a lot to still hold dear about the Harry Potter series, both books and film.
Like many I never thought the films truly ever matched the quality of the books but that feat in and of itself was a near impossible challenge. We lived and breathed with these characters on every page, took in their moments of heroics, moments of fear and debilitating grief with a front view seat. Their emotions, Harry’s emotions, were our own and their devastation and losses were felt just as greatly as their moments of deserved, hard earned triumph. We were with Harry every step of the way from under the stair case at the Dursleys to the battlefield, a lone figure against impossible darkness.
This meant that the films were always going to be more difficult to connect with since, to us readers, there was a greater detachment between us and the characters. This was particularly true when the books were still being released while the films were also being made. This isn’t to say the films held no affection, that was far from the truth and I was one of the many who was introduced to the series through the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone. However, once I opened the book and turned to page one, the series had a vice grip on my heart. There’s a reason why this series resonates with so many of us, especially the millennial general: we grew up with these characters, and while we weren’t off facing dementors, dragons or an evil wizard hell bent of immortality, we were facing new fears, overcoming obstacles and learning to hold compassion for others, even if they were on the offset mean spirited, greedy or rude.
All of that to say that yes, we Harry Potter fans are all overtly affectionate in regards to this series and yes, some of us perhaps a touch too judgmental over the changes made in the adaptation process, but these films prolonged our saying goodbye to these characters and as much as I can say that I loved these movies for what they were (genuinely-there’s been no other series quite like it in terms of book adaptions) it might be that pushed off goodbye that mattered the most.
Because then, the farewell tour began for those involved in the Potter world and it was exhaustive and emotional and made me feel like the 19 year old I was. But then it also made me feel like the 12 year-old me that picked up the book for the very first time, and the 17 year-old me who read the last installment of the series, one last time opening a page anew in the Wizarding World, who balled when Ron Weasley first left, got misty eyed when Harry walked into that forest, possibly for the last time and was essentially pure waterworks from that chapter until the very end.
These books may have not been the highest quality of the writing craft, but the storytelling and the world building was superb, drawing us all in, be it huddled under a blanket at night, sprawled out at the beach or on a long car ride, we were all in it together.
That collective feeling of sharing a love for a story, a character, made the end of the series even more bittersweet and the films went out on a high note. Where many adaptions or films that carry over from one film have a tendency to grow weaker over time, the Potter saga never once dipped so far in quality that there was no return. There were ebbs and flows and frustrating changes (Ron’s characterization being a major gripe) but for the most part, the films were always a success. This was demonstrated further in the last two installments, with part one and part two being vastly different in tone and setting. Part one was essentially a road movie set in the wizarding world while part two was one long battle. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 wasn’t just a fitting send off for the characters and this world, but also just a genuinely good film. Action packed but character driven, it may not have hit the same emotional cues that the book did, but the sequence where Harry see’s Snape’s memories, takes that long walk and see’s his parents, Remus and Sirius again, or where Ron realizes that Fred died (forever sobbing) were still incredibly poignant. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint demonstrated how beautifully they’d grown into these roles, forever ingrained in our memory as the Golden Trio.
I miss these books, these event films, and I look back upon them with a heart bursting amount of fondness, as if I were looking back at my own cherished memories. Every midnight screening or book releases touched on the significance of these series and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, until now, had been the last chance to share in this type of fan gathering and engagement, to watch for the first time this film, and say goodbye.
The film may not be remembered as the best the series had to offer but it was monumental, it was a final page and it was emotionally engaging from start to finish. The Boy Who Lived gave his final bow and all was well once again.
And, for those of missing the Gryffindor red and gold, the Quidditch Pitch or conversations spent between Harry, Ron and Hermione, or to those simply looking to once again being enraptured by a tale of how goodness wins, in a day and age where hate persists, remember J.K. Rowling’s words:
“The stories we love best do live in our hearts forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”