Harry Potter and the Film Event of the Generation
A literary phenomenon of controversial quality, the Harry Potter saga inspired children and adults alike even faster than it could offend, and then embolden, the Catholic Church.
Before the first instalment had even reached American bookstores, Hollywood smelt a franchise in the making and bought the adaptation rights to the first four adventures. With Steven Spielberg losing his footing with the project, and in respect of author J K Rowling’s wishes, Warner Bros. cast unknowns in the lead roles, filled the supporting roles with British acting royalty and handed the reigns to Chris Columbus, the studio clearly confident in his abilities to hit this particular snitch straight out of the park.
If you remain unfamiliar with the saga so far, don’t fret. This article aims to crash-course you in the Potter story so far, leaving out the many complexities to provide you with the key information you need to know going into this November’s penultimate instalment. Although it hopefully goes without saying, spoilers will follow.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorceror’s) Stone – You’re a wizard Harry
Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe to his friends, is an orphan who believes his parents to be dead following a car accident. When Robbie Coltraine’s Hagrid comes knocking with an invitation for enrolment at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it is revealed that Harry’s parents were in fact killed by He Who Must Not Be Named, a mysterious dark wizard who has a whole civilization shuddering at the mere mention of his name. The tyrant in question, Voldermort, was mysteriously stopped in his tracks by their son, The Boy Who Lived, resulting in Harry’s begrudged adoption by disapproving relatives Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia.
After his liberation at the enormous hands of part-giant Hagrid, games-keeper at Hogwarts, Harry is introduced to Diagon Alley and the rest of London’s wizarding world. Ticking off items from his school inventory, Harry is soon sporting snowy owl Hedwig, a wand and a trunk of assorted trinkets. When withdrawing money from wizarding bank Gringotts, Harry witnesses Hagrid remove the movie’s titular plot device from an ancient vault with as much suspicion as Coltrane can muster.
Arriving at school, Harry meets every national treasure working as an actor in Britain today, as well as friends Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom and sniping antagonist Draco Malfoy. Convinced that potions teacher Severus Snape is seeking to steal the philosopher’s stone to rejuvenate Voldermort, Harry takes precautions to ensure its safety. When the culprit turns out to be (I warned you there would be spoilers!) Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher Professor Quirrell, Harry must face The Dark Lord for the first time since infancy. The mystery solved, Harry has a brief discussion with Headmaster Dumbledore about his mother’s love and how it saved him that fateful night Voldermort came calling, before returning to his cupboard under the stairs for summer.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. – Enemies of the heir beware
After his summer is cut short by Ron Weasley and his father’s flying car, and having survived an encounter with the enigmatic house-elf Dobby, Harry Potter prepares to return to school. Unable to access the train station – which, just so you know, is hidden behind Kings Cross’ Platform 9 3/4s – he and Ron make the trip to school by enchanted car. Arriving in one piece, with the exception of Ron’s wand, the academic year begins with a new titular mystery – what is the Chamber of Secrets?
Solving the mystery after Hermione is petrified by the Chamber’s resident basilisk, Harry takes Ron and Quirrel’s replacement – celebrity teacher Gilderoy Lockheart – down into the Chamber of Secrets to rescue abducted Weasley, Ginny. When a mutiny leaves Lockheart confused as to his own identity, Harry is left to defeat the basilisk himself. Identifying a book as the source of the Chamber’s power, Harry destroys what is revealed to be Voldermort’s school diary and rescues Ginny from her predicament.
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban. – I solemnly swear that I am up to no good!
During summer vacation at his aunt and uncle’s, Harry becomes convinced he his being stalked by a large black dog. Once back at school, however, his dog-worries are eclipsed by the escape of alleged muggle (non-magic folk) killer Sirius Black. Informed by part-time werewolf Professor Lupin that Black gave Harry’s name to Voldermort prior to his parents’ murder, Harry seeks revenge on the convict with Ron and Hermione once again in tow.
With numerous wraith-life Dementors taking leave of Azkaban to protect the school, Harry’s world-view is jeoprodised by the discovery that Black was wrongly accused and is in fact Harry’s godfather. Identifying one Peter Petigrew as the real criminal, the film becomes a race against time as Harry and his friends try to convince those in charge of Black’s innocence before he is subjected to the Dememtor’s soul-destroying kiss.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. – Something wicked this way comes
After Alfonso Curon’s relatively short Prizoner of Azkaban – pedestalled by many as the best in the series – Mike Newell came on board to become the third director to helm a Potter movie. This time around, Harry Potter finds his name erroniously entered into the Triwizard Tournament – an international competition which pits a student from Hogwarts against students from rival schools Durmstrang and Beauxbatons.
Jealous of his friend’s fame, Ron severs ties with Harry, refusing to help him in his Triwizard preparations. Overcoming a dragon, a lake-full of merpeople and fighting his way through an enchanted maze, Harry reaches the Triwizarding cup first. Pausing, he chooses to share the victory with classmate (and soon-to-be sparkly vampire) Robert Pattinson.
When the cup turns out to be a magical portkey – capable of teleporting witches and wizards across considerable distances – Harry and Pattinson’s Cedric find themselves lying in a graveyeard and accosted by Voldermort’s regrouping supporters. Raising their dark leader from the dead with the help of Harry’s blood, and having killed Cedric, Voldermort returns to power – Harry only just escaping with his life. Reporting The Dark Lord’s return, the film ends with Dumbledore setting an ominous tone that will haunt the rest of the series, by way of end-of-term speech.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix – I’m sorry Professor, I must not tell lies
With Cedric Diggory dead, and the previous film’s Defence Against the Dark Arts’ teacher revealed to have been responsible for turning the Triwizard Cup into a portkey, The Ministry of Magic seizes the opportunity to plant High Inquisitor Delores Umbridge into the school hierarchy. Giving herself more and more power at Hogwarts, she attempts to debunk the claims that Voldermort has returned and even goes as far as to stop teaching the students to defend themselves on account of there supposedly being no risk. Taking the matter into his own hands, Harry – well, Hermione actually – creates Dumbledore’s Army and rallies a number of his fellow classmates to his cause.
When a vision alerts him to a Voldermort-lead attack on Sirius, Harry takes Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville and DA-member Luna Lovegood to the ministry to counter the attack. Revealed to be a decoy memory (as you do), Harry and the others are saved by Dumbledore and his own army: The Order of the Phoenix. The battle that ensues, however, kills Sirius and leaves Harry distraught as Dumbledore confronts Voldermort in front of the Minister of Magic. Unable to deny it any longer, Harry and Dumbledore are vindicated by the Ministry, and Umbridge is withdrawn from duty.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. – But I am the Chosen One
With Order of the Pheonix‘s David Yates returning to direct, Half-Blood Prince opens where its predecessor left off. Voldermort’s forces are on the rise, leading to a spectacular attack on London’s Millennium Bridge which resonates through both Magical and muggle media. When a series of assassination attempts are made on Dumbledore’s life, the safety of Hogwarts is thrown into question as Harry tries to convince his headmaster that it is nemesis Malfoy who is behind the numourous attempts. Dumbledore, meanwhile, is more concerned with teaching Harry a real subject for once – history.
After witnessing numerous memories of encounters Dumbledore has had with a young Voldermort, Tom Riddle, via Pensieve, Harry learns that the Dark Lord’s immortality was achieved through his creation of Horcruxes. Tasked with the destruction of these seven slices of Voldermort’s soul, Harry learns that his past adventures have already resulted in the elimination of one.
Dumbledore, who destroys one himself and leads Harry to another (later found to be a fake), is later killed by Snape’s hand atop the school’s astronomy tower. The film ends with Harry, Ron and Hermione preparing to leave Hogwarts for good while they track down and destroy the remaining Horcruxes – which brings us to…
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Because I have something worth living for
Preparing for the unenviable task of killing Voldermort, a Horcrux at a time, Harry is tempted by a mysterious new possibility: The Deathly Hallows.
Famously split in half to accommodate the colossal plot of J.K. Rowling’s final tome, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I is set for release on November 19, 2010. With the marketing campaign in full swing, the internet is bursting with promotional stills and trailers from the upcoming penultimate instalment.
The first clip is taken from the beginning of the movie, where polyjuice potion is used to create six clones of Harry in an attempt to confuse the dark forces waiting to ambush the Order of the Pheonix’s rescue attempt. The second, meanwhile, teases a cafe attack which takes place while Harry, Hermione and Ron are on the run from Voldermort’s supporters. The third clip, on the other hand, features a confrontation with Ron which will happen towards the end of the movie, in which the task at hand takes its toll and the duo’s friendship is put to the test.
So, there you have it. Due out in a week’s time. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I has a definite air of grandeur about it – whether you have invested in the cinematic saga or not. I hope that you have found this article educational, entertaining and – above all – persuasive.
The Harry Potter movies are nothing if not consistent. With – for the most part, at least – most actors reprising their characters across all eight films, and a story that has grown with its audience in both popularity and maturity, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows genuinely promises to be the Film Event of the Generation. It all ends here, after all, and you’d be a mad muggle to miss it.