With the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them and the popularity and extension of its run of the play The Cursed Child in London’s West End, the Harry Potter universe is having a resurgence in 2016. Since the release of the Deathly Hallows Pt 2 in 2011 we have had a few minimal releases of Harry Potter materials from JK Rowling but she has now gone front and centre writing the screenplays of Fantastic Beasts and with the aim to release at least 3 or 4 more movies in this franchise in the near future there is a lot of Harry Potter universe material coming. We ask a couple of our Can’t Pause this contributors whether this is a welcome return of a beloved franchise or a blatant cash grab of a studio running out of original ideas?
My life in movies has been a long one. From a young age my Nan used to take me to classic films like Disney’s Hercules, All dogs go to Heaven and The Great Mouse Detective. My childhood years were filled with Sci-Fi escapes to foreign lands or watching children of my age defeat all kinds of villains and villainy. But the same fate that befalls every innocent wide eyed child enjoying these types of movies happened to me, I started to grow up.
I got older and with that the way I enjoyed films changed. By the time the first Harry Potter book was released I was 17 and by the time the first film was released I was already 19. This meant that the Harry Potter Fandom had passed me by. As an avid film goer I did watch the first 3 Harry Potter movies but I could not connect with the main characters as those much younger than me did.
As a ‘member’ of many fandoms myself I can understand how people can connect with these films. They contain interesting characters, a wonderful mythology and Alan Rickman. And they had an excellently contained story over the original 7 books and the 8 movies which ended with a satisfying conclusion.
It’s always nice to have an end to a story in books or in movies its gives us a resolution and this is a good thing for most human beings as the human mind is incredibly averse to uncertainty and ambiguity.
I think that in ‘Hollywood’ today money talks and studios will always look for the sure thing or for a spin-off of an existing popular (money making!) franchise. From a business standpoint I’m sure this is a sound idea but from a creative standpoint I wish they would create a new world that we can invest our lives in.
I can understand how fans of the Potter-sphere would want more of this world. From what we have seen on screen there is more to this world to see. However fandoms have been burned by this idea before. Star Wars fans wanted more from their universe and they were given the ‘prequels’, most of them did not appreciate those additions to the canon.
I genuinely hope that this Harry Potter prequel does not let fans down. Fans should enjoy all of the products that are based on their fandoms and should not just be used as money makers for the studios or the owners of these franchises.
But for me I think that the Harry Potter film Universe has had a good run and can still be enjoyed by current fans and can be introduced to new fans and does not need to be expanded. But I’m probably in the minority!
Jodie Macdonald –
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
I remember reading those lines as a kid, completely unaware that the rest of J K Rowling’s words would open up a world I effortlessly fell into, completely and totally, a world that changed my life and taught me how to be the person I am today.
There is something about discovering a series like Harry Potter when you’re so young – one that amassed several books, movies, and now spin offs – that makes it affect you so differently than ones you stumble upon as an adult. The first book released in 1997. I was four years old.
(Of course, I didn’t read it then because I was too busy learning how to spell “bee” and share my pudding at lunchtime, but went back to read it in 2001, after the first film released.)
Such a time scale means you age as the characters age, years pass in real life as they do at Hogwarts and you learn lessons from these books, valuable ones that shape your views and character in subtle yet such influenced ways. And the lessons in Harry Potter are great and important: what it means to love someone, who true, real friends are, how and when to be brave. That the most noble and selfless of deeds can sometimes be the hardest, but that they are usually right. And worth the effort. That you are not alone.
It’s hard, really, to express to someone who doesn’t understand. Even those who feel the same about other universes like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars, cling so to their memories and their lessons, but don’t quite reach the realms of understanding like other Potterheads do. As such, we have fallen in love with magic, and are fiercely protective of it.
So, I am divided. I adore Hogwarts, have very strong (and sometimes well opposed) opinions on the narrative, and hold it all much too close to my heart. So when a question comes along like: is this going too far? It’s hard to say.
In some ways, yes. We are. And in others, we haven’t gone far enough. It all depends on doing it right.
I mean, let’s be honest here: we don’t need five Fantastic Beasts movies. We don’t. Five? Are you kidding me? That’s way too much. Quite apart from the fact that muggles (excuse me; no-maj’s) would remember hoards of magical creatures roaming the streets of New York and a world war that not only would have destroyed cities, but countless lives, happening; we are now in a world where one rogue Wizard manages to create a disaster on such a massive scale that it takes five movies to correct his monumental mishap. How on earth would be ministry of magic not have tightened rules so much that using Lumos outside of school would get you thrown in Askaban, let alone allow Voldemort to happen.
It just seems so… much. The world of magic, of Hogwarts, is so full. So complete. Leave it. Let it settle. Let it live on in our memories and age slowly and brilliantly with time like Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf.
That being said, there are definitely parts of Harry Potter that should live on, and are doing so wonderfully.
Take the illustrated editions of the books, and the tens of editions of hardbacks and special copies that line shelves in bookstores and Amazon wish lists, they are beautiful. Stunning, even. And encapsulate the feel of the books so wonderfully. It allows you to relive the world again, in a different and spellbinding way. You can show your little ones what a dragon looks like, how a spell flies, it’s perfect.
Or the wands, or replicas, maps, and drawings. All these collectibles that allow us to bring Hogwarts home. They are fantastic to have.
The theme parks and tours that have been built on the success of the franchise are excellent as well, and hold true to the world JK created with such intense accuracy that it is incredible to me, and many others.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal, Orlando, is absolutely amazing. It is a living, breathing rendition of the books that is masterfully created. They have the Three Broomsticks, where you can drink Butterbeer (it’s gross, by the way), Ollivanders where you can be chosen by a wand, the eerie darkness of Knockturn Alley and the shady shops within where you can buy Dark Arts merchandise and meet wizards and witches who favour the more sinister side of magic.
You can ride the Hogwarts Express from Platform 9 3/4, buy your Hogwarts robes and go on two of the most inventive, fun, and technologically advanced rides in the parks. It is an utterly brilliant place, one well worth visiting and one I am glad has come to life and will continue to save to see, and hope to grow.
Similarly, the Studio Tour in London allows you to see behind the scenes of the movies, from costumes to make up, real life sets that were used during production and concept art that is just beautiful. You can eat Christmas Dinner in the actual, real life Great Hall, and fall in love with Hogwarts all over again.
Or even, and possibly most importantly, the wonderful charities that have spawned from Potterheads coming together for the greater good: The Harry Potter Alliance, Lumos, and Dumbledore’s Army, to name a few. All of which have a mantra of helping others, weather few human rights efforts, activism, or galas and auctions, they make the world a brighter place. And would not have been born would it not have been for Harry Potter.
All of these things, even, wouldn’t have been born without the imagination of JK Rowling and the kind and creative hearts of those who’ve read her work.
So I think we do need more Harry Potter in our lives. I will have hour long conversations about it still to this day, yet we cannot go too far. Let it be remembered fondly like Lord of the Rings, not smeared like Ghostbusters. Let us be able to mean it when we say:
“All was well.”