Well, I guess that’s it. Shutter the windows. Draw the blinds. Put the chairs on the table, folks. After ten years the gargantuan motion picture soap opera that is Harry Potter has finally cast its last spell. Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of the books and/or the movies, you cannot deny the impressive achievement that is the eight-picture anthology of Harry Potter. Since it first premiered in November of 2001, those who have handed over their cold, hard cash to view the life and times of the Boy Who Lived and his comrades have experienced something that I don’t think has ever been experienced before, even with fellow fantasy goliath The Lord of the Rings.
Think about it. Leaving aside the untimely death of Richard Harris, not one single cast member has had to be replaced. If you don’t think that’s an achievement, take a look at the roster of repeating characters over the course of the films. I cannot think of a single other series of motion pictures that can boast that kind of track record. Harry Potter has also benefited from some of the most faithful screenplay adaptations of source material throughout. Not even The Lord of the Rings can claim that feat over three back-to-back films. It even managed to keep a somewhat consistent tone insofar as the series got a little bit darker with each passing film. That is an incredible accomplishment considering the number of directors, cinematographers, editors, production designers and composers who have been involved.
It is also a singular series in that those who have followed these kids from film one have watched them grow and mature not just as characters but as actors: a virtual surrogate family whose hopes and dreams, heartaches and horrors they have shared with those who chose to follow them on such a long, long journey. It may not be precisely akin to watching your own children come of age and leave the nest but it is a touching experience nonetheless.
I have been known to dabble in sentimentality, though I tend to eschew mawkishness. I’m not so touched by the end of this particular journey that I’m going to degenerate into a weepy puddle of distraught tears. However, I cannot deny that these films had an effect on me. Perhaps it was the experience of mainlining all of the movies in a single week. Whatever the reason, Harry Potter was an experience for which I will be forever appreciative.
And to the three-year-old teenager who sat next to my wife in slack-jawed awe during Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets nearly a decade ago, I hope it remained every bit as magical for you at the end as it did at the beginning.
Farewell, Harry Potter. It was well worth the ride.