It was a chilly Saturday morning in early November. There had been a book fair at the elementary school I attended the previous day, and I was eagerly waiting to tear into the new book I had bought there. Something I’d never heard of before, but intrigued me all the same, with its front cover containing art featuring a boy on a broomstick, and its back cover a cryptic summary. It was called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.
Before the day was out, I had read that entire book cover to cover. No, not just read; I had devoured it. I probably barely even came up for air. But that day had passed more quickly than almost any other day of my life. I was completely, totally, utterly entranced as, for the first time, I said hello to Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Rubeus Hagrid, and Severus Snape, just to name a few. As I first read about the intricacies of the wizarding world and my imagination was transported to Hogwarts. I remember closing that book breathless, but with a huge smile on my face, proudly declaring to my mother that it was the best thing I’d ever read in my life.
It was unlike any other book I’d ever seen before. And that’s saying something, because as a child, I was a rather voracious reader. (My nickname in late elementary and middle school wasn’t “Hermione” for nothing.)
I had passed the point of no return.
Soon afterward, I got wind of the fact that there were two more books in the series already, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban, and got them into my hands before you could even say “Quidditch.” They were devoured just as quickly, and just as eagerly, as the first. I was a girl possessed; all I wanted was more, more, MORE. More of that fascinating world, so that I could continue to dwell in it and never have to leave. More adventures of the characters that I was quickly growing to love. More.
Thus sparked arguably one of the greatest narrative obsessions of my life.
I was at every midnight book release, in costume, almost literally shaking with excitement as each new volume would be placed into my hands. I spent countless hours debating theories about what would happen next with others, both with my friends at the lunch table and with other fans on the Internet. I combed through every existing volume for proof for my arguments, learning more about critical thinking and literary analysis than many of my English classes ever taught me. I went to every film on opening weekend, even if I couldn’t always make it at midnight due to other life commitments. When I felt alone, scared, or uncertain about moving into the next stage of life, I could find solace in the experiences of my favorite characters, that while I may not hold a magic wand or attend a school of witchcraft and wizardry, we all share the same struggles as we grow.
Harry Potter was more than a story to me. Harry Potter practically defined an entire period of my life.
And at approximately 4:10 PM on Sunday, July 17, 2011, when the screen at my local IMAX theater faded to black, it was time to say goodbye.
I know I can’t review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in an objective or unbiased manner, even after giving myself a considerable amount of time to collect my thoughts, so I’m not even going to attempt to. I’m a bona fide member of the Potter generation, and I have too much invested in this series. So many memories tied to my experiences as a fan of this series. So many of my struggles, my insecurities, the trials and tribulations of growing up, intertwined firmly with these characters, characters I identified with and cared for so deeply that by this point, they’ve become like old friends.
For the fans like me, for the ones that stuck with Harry for so many years, this film was a fitting tribute, as loving of a dedication as that written by the author herself in her final volume. I couldn’t have asked for more to conclude the series I have loved for so long. It subdued in the right places, explosive in the right places, and powerful all around, true to the spirit of the source material at each turn. This film series has definitely experienced its fair share of adaptation missteps, but, in the end, it went out with a bang, giving the close to my childhood the dignity it deserves.
Was it perfect? Well, no, nothing ever is. But damn if it wasn’t close.
And so, I think, there’s only one thing left to say. To Jo Rowling, whose words first introduced this wonderful world and cast of characters, and let them ignite our imaginations. To Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and so many others, who stuck with their characters for an entire decade, giving them a screen presence and development that has been a joy to watch. To the numerous directors, cinematographers, editors, special effects gurus, stunt workers, costume designers, makeup artists, and a boatload of crewpeople, who must have had a hell of a job on their hands to bring these films to the screen.
Thank you. From the bottom of my heart.
It’s been a fantastic fourteen years.