And so it is (almost) here. At midnight tonight Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows will be released to the general public and then the series will be – as the posters profess – at an end.
You would have to be living under an enchanted rock not to be aware of the upcoming release. Of late it has been literally everywhere (well, perhaps not literally, but you know what I mean). Every time I open a newspaper, go online, wait at a bus stop – you get the general idea – I am greeted by Harry, Ron, Hermione, or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named telling me it is almost over. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about A) where have you been for the last 14 years; and B) the trailer for the last instalment is here.
Yet I have a problem with these films. Yes, they tell a wonderful story. Yes, I know who these characters are. Yes, the first couple are a bit childish, but that is what they were meant to be, that’s who the books were aimed at. Yes, they are good films. However, there is a but, and it’s a pretty big one: they are not the books, and they never will be.
About 12 or 13 years ago when I was 9 or 10 we had family friends who gave me a couple of books (for my birthday, if I’m not mistaken) from this new, little heard of series by some unknown author. I’m sure it won’t be a surprise to learn that these were The Philosopher’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets. It was in these books that I first learnt that I was a Muggle and of my ignorance of the wizarding world. And I absolutely adored them. Ever since I have got these books the moment they’ve been released and not stopped reading until they were done. It’s a little (OK, very) geeky, but I do not care. They are the only books from that time that still grace my bookshelves – and they aren’t going anywhere soon.
I think, like most great books that have received the attentions of the silver screen, one must disengage all thoughts of the books whilst watching the films. If I
disregard try not to think about the books whilst watching the films, consider them as entirely different entities from their literary roots, then they are a great set of films to watch (not to mention the wonders they have done for the British film industry – with regards to both actors and crew). And then to watch all over again. But I will always prefer the books if they are placed side by side with the films, because (in my mind at least) they are intrinsically better than their visual counterparts.
This is not to say that I am not excited for going to see HP 7.2 on Saturday – far from it – but I have read the book this week, and I do have expectations. But there is also a slight sense of trepidation. Since the age of 9 or 10 Harry Potter et al. have been a regular part of my life, I have grown up surrounded by it – in fact the actors who play the characters are even my age (give or take a year). However, all good things must come to an end, I suppose, and being a part of ‘the Harry Potter generation’ was a lot of fun. I also have no doubt that these stories will live on, not only just on my shelves, but on those of generations yet come who will become equally enthralled by the characters and adventures that lie within. And perhaps the DVD box set will even join my/their collection of belongings too.
This brings me on to my slightly dubious – but ultimately accurate – claim in the title. It would indeed be ludicrous for me to claim I was specifically mentioned in the dedication of the final book – but I am there, for the reasons outlined above.
I have stuck with it. But there is a perfectly good reason for this, although perhaps not great works of literary wonder, J.K. Rowling created characters and a story that draws the reader in and keeps them there, something that very few can claim, and fewer can rival. So thank you, J.K. Rowling and thank you Harry and co. I’m glad I’ve stuck with you to the end, even if I’m now a little sad to let go.