The last Harry Potter movie is being released today and I find myself feeling strangely sad. As someone who doesn’t even particularly love the movies, this is a pretty odd sensation.
I started reading Harry Potter in 1999. I was almost the same age as the characters and it all felt so deliciously real. I devoured the first book and immediately demanded the second. Luckily, it had just come out, and in a matter of a day or two, I had finished that one too. Then came the waiting for the publication of the third book, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
For people of my generation, waiting for the next book to be published became a rite of passage. It only enhanced the experience of being a Harry Potter fan; it allowed you to read each book over and over again, absorbing every detail of the magical world J.K. Rowling created. My friends and I hashed over each detail, argued over favorite characters (for the record, Ron is my favorite of the main trio), and wondered what adventures our literary friends would get up to next.
When the first movie premiered, I was a freshman in high school. My friends and I had a Harry Potter sleepover, complete with a midnight showing of the film and Harry Potter trivia games. Looking back, it was a way to hold onto the trappings of childhood at a time when we were starting to encounter a much more adult world.
This is a theme of the Harry Potter books too—how do you transition to adulthood and all the terrifying responsibilities it brings? Most of us won’t face an evil wizard trying to take over the world, but we’ll face our own challenges. Harry, Ron and Hermione show us that it is possible to overcome anything with friendship, courage, intelligence, and as Dumbledore would tell us, love.
When I finished the last book, I was exhausted; I had laughed, cried, and gripped the book in fear. But after closing the book, I knew it wasn’t the real end; there were movies to be made, discussions to be had. As the eighth movie premieres, it is so odd to think that this is the last time the entire world will spend a week or two talking about Harry Potter’s world.
So I’m sad, because the premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part II ends that exquisitely painful waiting. Just as we all waited for each new book, we also waited to see if each movie met our expectations. Even when they didn’t (Order of the Phoenix anyone?) we at least had something Potter related to discuss. But now the waiting that united the Harry Potter fandom has ended.
Of course, the beauty of books is that they live forever in our memories and imaginations. So this week, I’ll re-read book 7, experience all the pain and excitement again, and then go see all our Hogwarts friends on screen one last time.
Goodbye Harry. Goodbye Hermione. Goodbye Ron. You have been good friends. And J.K. Rowling: thank you for creating this beautiful world and letting all us Muggles in.