Thursday, July 26, 2012

The True Magic of Harry Potter

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The Harry Potter novels changed millions of people’s lives across the world and their heavy presence is still felt to this day. A story about a boy-wizard has transformed to an international frenzy with films, tours, and even an amusement park. The emotional connection to characters and themes of heroism and self-discovery are just the many attractions towards the novels. My personal love for the novels has impacted my life. I would devour each novel when it was released and went to every midnight premiere for the later films. As the birthplace of Harry Potter, I was ecstatic to emerge myself into discovering new aspects of the Harry Potter novels and films.

Alternative to the walking tour, I ventured out an hour and a half outside of London to explore the studio where the Harry Potter films were created. The first set to see was the Great Hall. This colossal image where major events in the novels and films occurred conjured a thought of a magnificent hall filled with the magical ambiance portrayed in the films. The reality was different, however, as the ceiling was missing to allow for visual effects and two of the tables were missing as well to allow visitors to pass through. Through the changes, though, the details were able to maintain the image of the Great Hall. The glassware on the table, the fireplace, and lanterns brought a greater appreciation into the craftsmanship of the set. As we continued into the next section, the large studio was loaded with iconic props from the film, such as the basilisk entrance and Mirror of Erised to sets such as the Gryffindor Common Room and the Potion’s classroom. The arrangement of random props, sets, and costumes, although a bit chaotic, allowed me to examine each item not through a camera lens. I was amazed to see the preservation of the sets as all of the props were kept in their original state. The scale of the sets also surprised me, as rooms appear smaller in real life than the portrayal on film. With this observation, I realized the quality filmmaking that occurred, as the cameras were able to expand the set to make it appear larger than it was. The props, however, went beyond my expectations as the authenticity and originality was evident on close examination. By having the time to closely look, I was able to value the details inlayed in every piece used in the films. There were handmade tapestries, hand painted portraits, individualized carved wands, all with a purpose to experience of Harry Potter. The most astounding piece was the model of Hogwarts.

            Upon entering the room, the light shines on the grand school and music sets the mood. By physically seeing the school, this altered my relationship with Harry Potter as I was finally able to visualize Hogwarts and understand the magical place the films were trying to recreate from the novels. This model became the pivotal moment for myself as I truly respected the true talents of the artist, architects, camera crew, visual effects, and more to create an all-encompassing magical world from the words of a novel. This visual imagery and art reminded of the specialness of Harry Potter. Overall, this studio tour provided me insight into the making of the Harry Potter films, but it ultimately strengthened my continual love for the novels that inspired them.

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