Harry Potter: More Than Just On-screen Magic

[Edit: originally published on ZannaLand on 7/15/09]

As with most things of a fantastical nature, I avoided Harry Potter and all its hype for years. That sounds pretty confusing coming from someone that identifies as a small, stubborn, flying pixie. With the notable exception of The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien in general, I’m just not a sci-fi/fantasy kind of girl. After reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy, I especially wanted nothing to do with this obvious attempt to cash in on a similar story line that was Harry Potter. And then, the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone came on tv, back in 2003 or 2004 I believe. Wouldn’t you know I got sucked in by The Boy That Lived? I was pretty annoyed at myself, actually. Then we saw Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I didn’t care for that one as much, but it led to me wanting to actually read the books. The ironic thing was, we already had all the books that had been released up to that point, thanks to my mother-in-law that had been sending them down for the kids to read when they got older. So I cracked open Sorcerer’s Stone, and not only proved my earlier impressions wrong, I promptly fell in love.

When I had finally caught up with all the books, I had also found a new friend in my Starbuck’s barista at the local SuperTarget, who had read all the books several times. Our Harry Potter kinship led to us getting together with our kids, who were close in age, and eventually my getting a job alongside her. So when July 21st, 2007 rolled around, we were there with our two eldest children (both of whom dressed as Harry) for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. cHP7My friend wanted to stay up all night and read the whole book, but I couldn’t last much past 5am. When I did read it, of course I cried like a baby, as I had with certain parts of The Order of the Phoenix, as well as The Half Blood Prince. It was exciting to be a part of something that was taking place all across the country that night, and I’m glad my son got to experience it as well. Like it or not, the books got kids eager to read; connecting with their parents in some cases was an added bonus.

As our children have grown, so of course have Harry and friends within the books and movies. Honestly, the past two years since the release of The Order of the Phoenix film have been chock full of growth for both my older children. No longer interested in primarily toys, they now favor video games or just hanging out with friends. So I was surprised when they both exclaimed with great interest that of course they wanted to see the new movie at midnight when it was released. More than willingly, I purchased tickets online for the 12:05 showing in our local movie theatre.

It has been a while since I read The Half Blood Prince, so I won’t get into how “true the movie was to the book” or “this or that was missing and how dare they!” All I know is on its own merits, the movie was beautifully shot, and the story told was wonderful. It definitely set the scene for how Harry is growing up and must bear the burden of responsibility in the troubled world in which he lives. I loved the various camera angles and the different sets used this time around; visually it was just gorgeous. Not to mention Snape. 😉

But quasi-movie review aside, what I loved the most about last night was the realization of the tradition and memories JK Rowling has unknowingly created within her series. This was the second time we’d seen a midnight release of a Harry Potter movie, and the kids were no less enamored of the event. When they are my age, they’ll remember these times and hopefully create some of those same wonderful memories with their own families.

It is quite a unique feat to fashion such constant yet ever-changing characters that serendipitously grow along with your very own children. While mine are not quite at the “snogging” phase yet (thank Merlin!) they are getting there, so they can still relate to this whole tale as opposed to quickly outgrowing a movie as being “kid stuff”. I love that about this series. It truly is something we can all share, get excited about and discuss for years to come.

So I am happy to proudly say that I am a Potter fan. While I may not own a Gryffindor scarf myself, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at one, nor anyone wearing one. In fact, it would be a great way to get to know them better, knowing we already share a love for something that has brought such joy to so many – hopefully my kids share that same realization. So thanks again, Jo. Well done.

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About Suzannah Otis

Boston girl living and blogging in Walt Disney World's backyard. Wife, Mom of 3, coffee addict, lover of travel and adventure.