I have a couple confessions—revelations that may jeopardize my self-proclaimed geek girl status. Okay, deep breaths…
Confession #1: In high school, I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, read about 30 pages, and discarded the book because I couldn’t get into it.
Confession #2: I saw the first two Harry Potter movies in theaters—and that’s as far as I got.
I know. It’s troubling.
But let me give you some context.
In high school, I was far too serious for my age. I wanted to read “important,” complex works (ie – stuff by dead white men), because I was convinced I was going to write the next great American novel. I considered these works primers, necessary reading. In other words, I was up to my Dickies in Dickens and swooned over tragic works by Hawthorne, Hemingway, and Ellison (the most messed up law office ever?). I wasn’t won over by magic and whimsy and fun, so the coming-of-age tale of a wizard wasn’t exactly my bag.
And don’t get me wrong, the first two movies were great, but when you know there will be seven or eight films, it’s an investment. And without the books to inspire me, why invest?
Now, I’m engaged to a full-fledged Harry Potter fan. There’s a wand in our house. A piece of art showcasing the Hogwart’s crest. The full series of books on our bookshelf. All of the films on our hard drive. A stuffed Hedwig. And now, custom-painted Harry Potter peg people (which can also serve as tree ornaments!) that I found on Etsy and gifted Bryan for Christmas.
Around the holidays, Bryan likes to revisit the world of Harry Potter. For him, there’s something festive and fun in watching a movie or two from the series. This year was no different, and as the camera panned across 4 Privet Drive, a conversation began. How many of the movies had I seen? To be honest, I couldn’t remember. I knew about Muggles and that Harry could talk to snakes and what a Golden Snitch was, but it had all kind of run together in my memory. So, we watched the first two. Yes, I remembered Tom Riddle and that terrible Basilisk.
As soon as we started the third movie, I realized that…that had been it. I had only devoted five hours to the world of Harry Potter. “I definitely haven’t seen this one…And I’ve decided that I want to watch all of them with you.”
In one week, Bryan and I visited Hogwart’s eight times. And now, I get it. I understand the fandom and the madness of Potterheads around the world. Because the series is truly magical…and I haven’t even gotten to the books yet (which are on my 2016/2017 reading list now).
But before I crack open the books, here are five epiphanies I had while watching the movies:
I’d like to wed a Weasley. I know Harry got a lot of looks thanks to his reputation and that devastatingly boyish grin (Daniel Radcliffe was a perfect casting), but the Weasley twins, Fred and George—they were something else. Mirth. Mischief. Undying optimism. Utterly adorable. If I were a character in the Harry Potter world, I’d chase those hilarious gingers through the halls of Hogwart’s with Amortentia at the ready.
J.K. Rowling has a boundless and beautiful imagination. World building is hard—take it from a writer. To create a world so fully realized, so full of whimsy and magic, so fun and attractive that amusement park replicas have been erected and colleges have formed Quidditch teams—that’s no small undertaking. And clearly, the filmmakers went to great lengths to bring this world to life. It’s incredible—and I love that Whomping Willow.
The coming-of-age angst and awkwardness in the films is some of the best I’ve seen on the silver screen. Puberty hit Hogwart’s hard in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire—and it was so fun to watch. Because it was relatable. Hermione’s frustration and exhaustion in getting Ron to notice her “like that.” The stolen glances. The first kisses. Working up the nerve to ask someone to a dance. I was back in high school and feeling hormonal and laughing at imprints of memories.
While I’d love to receive a letter from Hogwart’s, all that dark arts sorcery would probably inspire some crazy episodes of anxiety. Power can either inspire a lot of good or a shit storm of bad, also known as Lord Voldemort…and dementors…and the most frightening of all, Dolores Umbridge. While I’d love to say I’d be a warrior and fight for good in the world of magic…well, I might ride my Nimbus 2000 in the opposite direction.
I clearly need to read the books. That whole Half-Blood Prince thing? That mirror fragment from Sirius Black? I had to ask Bryan about these seeming mysteries, because they weren’t well explained in the movies. In the end, we came to the conclusion that the further you got in the films, the less explaining the filmmakers felt they needed to do. But fans who’d read all the books—they totally got it. And I’d like to be in that camp.
I plan to read the books and then watch the films again, hopefully in another marathon-style viewing. You know, for comparison. Research. And, of course, another chance to roam the halls of Hogwart’s.
In the meantime, I solemnly swear I am up to no good. Always.