Harry Potter fans prepare for final movies

Midnight Thursday night marks a long-awaited moment for fans of the Harry Potter series, as thousands will attend midnight screenings of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Those who have spent more than a year obsessively stalking MuggleNet.com for press releases, video clips, and photos and visiting sites such as HarryPotterFanFiction.com for their Potter fix, are in a state of frenzied excitement that can only be likened to religious ecstasy. The upcoming two-part film adaptation of the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has prompted more speculation and emotion from fans than the six movies that have preceded it.

The Harry Potter phenomenon is one that has swept millions into the fold. The highest-grossing franchise in history, it has even defined a “Harry Potter Generation” — those who grew up from 1997-2007, the 10-year period during which J.K. Rowling published the seven books which comprise the series. In a manner often likened to that of J.R.R. Tolkien, Rowling has created an entire universe that forms the backdrop for her novels. This includes everything from the fundamental conception of magic to extensive family trees, innumerable spells, and wandlore, and three books detailing a new sport (Quidditch Through the Ages), an entire animal kingdom (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), and children’s bedtime tales (The Tales of Beedle the Bard). In a Deathly Hallows interview with The New York Times, screenwriter Steve Kloves commented on this, citing the wealth of information Rowling possesses about the Potter world. “I once e-mailed her and asked her what were the 12 uses of dragon’s blood, and she wrote back in 30 seconds what they all were,” he said.

The seventh book rightly represents the climax of all this knowledge. The 700-plus pages are dense, packed with important details, wonderful characterizations, and intense drama. The desire to justly appreciate and capture the complexity of the novel compelled the films’ director, David Yates, to split the final installment into two parts. Part one covers Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s search for Voldemort’s horcruxes, while part two essentially leads up to the final battle. There are few cast changes for the penultimate film. Well-known British actor Bill Nighy takes on the role of Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour, and despite rumors to the contrary, Emma Thompson and Jason Isaacs reprise their respective roles as Professor Trelawney and Lucius Malfoy. Kloves noted that there are some plot differences between the book and the movie: the audience actually sees Hermione protect her parents by modifying their memories, and Harry’s birthday party is cut. Adjustments such as these, however, can always be expected. Ultimate faithfulness to the narrative is the reason millions of fans will be waiting to judge the film, eager to see whether the film stays true to the book that, for many, was symbolic of the end of an era.