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For most people, the end of the Harry Potter movie franchise will be a passing thought. But for some – those of us who have donned capes and lightning bolted foreheads to midnight premieres and book releases, who have gone hours without eating just to finish a Rowling book, and those of us who could easily teach a Defense Against The Dark Arts class – saying goodbye to this franchise is like sending an only child off to college. It hurts.
A bit dramatic? Maybe.
This dates me, but I’ve barely known popular culture without the wizarding world of Harry Potter. My first introduction to J.K. Rowling was in a public library in 1998, a year after the Sorcerer’s Stone (I knew it as The Philosopher’s Stone) was published. After reading the first book and enjoying it, I didn’t hear much about this brand new author and her characters again until the Sorcerer’s Stone film warranted a middle school field trip for my English class. That was all it took.
I’ve grown up with the young cast of the Harry Potter franchise (literally, Daniel Radcliffe and I are 3 days apart), and it’s been a delight to watch them grow and mature as actors. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and interview them in person, but nothing compares to the experience and the excitement of buying the latest Rowling book or seeing the latest Potter movie. That’s what I’ll cherish the most. Though I’ve always preferred books to their movies, here was a movie franchise that never strayed too far from accuracy. Led by amazing writer Steve Kloves, producer David Heyman and a foursome of great directors – Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and David Yates, the Harry Potter Hollywood empire was the gift that kept on giving.
So, here we are, on the eve of the last Harry Potter movie release. I won’t say anything about the movie… this post is a reflection of the past 10 years. Because I can’t do a slow-motion movie montage set to the music of Vitamin C’s Graduation Song, I present to you true Harry Potter fans a compilation of some of my favorite moments from the past 7 movies.
The Magic Moments.
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It takes a real man to navigate a giant chess board with such skill, such conviction, such manpower… eleven year-old Ron Weasley was that man in The Sorcerer’s Stone. In a game where you were as good as dead if you lost, Ron sacrificed himself so Harry could checkmate the White King. If this scene wasn’t the best part of that entire movie, I don’t know what was.
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Ron always has his movie moments though. From the Howler letter, to the immense fear of spiders, to “Eat Slugs!” and “Weasley Is Our King,” to being under the spell of Romilda Vane, his love story with Lavender (who calls him “Won-Won”), and that cheesy confession about Hermione’s voice leading him back in Deathly Hallows. Perhaps he isn’t the main man, but Ron is the best wizard wing-man of all time. Just imagine how hard it must be to associate with Harry Potter.
Harry, the Ladies Man.
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I always found it adorable when Harry’s teen angsty love life was on display. Sure, he only really dealt with two girls (three, if you count taking Parvati to the Yule Ball), but how cute was he? That awkward door-dance with Cho in Goblet of Fire, the way he quickly blurts out “Ijustwonderedifmaybeyouwantogototheballwithme?” Ahh, love. I’ll admit I didn’t like Cho Chang much at all. The actress who plays her was okay, but the character… ugh. What an airhead. Thankfully, Harry ends up with the ginger we all know and love.
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The last 30 minutes or so of Prisoner of Azkaban is like an ode to Hermione’s awesomeness. After Ron and Harry keep noticing that she had been appearing out of nowhere in several of her classes, Hermione is forced to reveal that she had been given a time-turner, and the trio use it to save both Sirius and Buckbeak. Emma Watson takes the lead for these last few scenes, and it’s the first time that we see Hermione as a major character on screen, instead of just being a wing-woman to the boys.
Also, this happens.
(Cue: Smokey from Friday, ”You got knocked the f*** out, man!”)
Harry vs. Draco
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Remember the moment they first met in the Sorcerer’s Stone? Draco Malfoy must have been the cutest little villain of all time. But it was okay to love him because he was never really the villain of the movie, was he? In any case, the most intense Harry vs. Draco moment had to have been in The Half-Blood Prince, where Harry uses the “Sectumsempra” spell at the end of their fight. The immediate remorse he has after using the deadly spell, compared with the anger and utter loathing he had just moments before – that scene is the truest explanation of their relationship.
And The ‘Best Teacher’ Award Goes To…
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Professor Trelawney. I know you’ll probably disagree on this, but I absolutely loved professor Sybil Trelawney and her false sense of clairvoyance. Sure, she was a nut case, but she was an earnest one. I also love her character partially because I think Emma Thompson can do no wrong.
Second place goes to Firenze… because he is, like, the hottest centaur in the universe.
The Knight Bus.
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Wizards got around, man. There was Hagrid’s too-tiny motorcycle, the coveted Nimbus 2000 and other broomsticks, the Weasley’s flying blue car, and good old-fashioned floo powder or portkeys. No mode of transportation was cooler than The Knight Bus. The quick scene in Prisoner of Azkaban was an embellished nuance by director Alfonso Cuaron, but the characters in that scene were some of the most memorable. Stan Shunpike, aloof Ernie, the talking shrunken head… come on, who wouldn’t want to take a ride on that triple decker. *Jamaican accent* “Take it away, Ernie!”
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I didn’t cry when Dumbledore died. I did, however, sob uncontrollably when Cedric Diggory died. It wasn’t because I cared much for Robert Pattinson or Cedric Diggory, but how could you not feel something when his dad, Amos Diggory started howling “my boy!” Harry was crying, Hermione and Fleur were crying, Cho was crying (but who cares)… it was emotional man.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
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There were quite a few nuances throughout the movies that really stood out as directors’ efforts to capture the world of Harry Potter. Little things, maybe irrelevant to the overall plot, but still things that made us realize that their world isn’t like ours. Take, for example, the telephone box that transported Harry and Mr. Weasley to the Ministry of Magic in Order of the Phoenix. Later, toilets did the same for Harry, Ron and Hermione in Deathly Hallows Part 1. Even in the beginning of the franchise – the way the young wizards and witches got through to Platform 9 3/4 (and the fact that it was even named that) was so cool. And Butterbeer – even if you don’t know what it tastes like, you know what it tastes like. What about the way that Dobby drops a cake on the visiting Masons in Chamber of Secrets, or when Harry blows up Aunt Marge in Prisoner of Azkaban. It never ends: The Monster Book of Monsters, the golden Snitch, the Cornish Pixies, the ugly little Mandrakes, the yawning headmasters, Rita Skeeter’s self-writing notepad and Umbridge’s skin-writing spell. The moving staircases, the singing Fat Lady, Peeves the Ghost, Moaning Myrtle, Kreacher the other House Elf…
It was the little things that brought this story alive,
from the very beginning, to the bittersweet end.