Monday, May 18, 2020

[Roll Your Own Life] The Movies That Made Me (Part 22)


Harry Potter. You knew Harry Potter would have to be in the list somewhere. Movies that shaped my life? Oh boy...

The road to Harry Potter was a weird one for me. We were living in that little flat the other side of the country when the press had started getting wind of how popular Harry Potter was, just as the third book was coming out. Debs was intrigued by some press clippings she'd been sent, and we bought the first couple of books which she read in about a day, and then bought Prisoner of Azkaban the day it was released.

I was a bit stupid, and discounted it all completely. I wasn't really interested in a kids book, and didn't really have time to read much as I was working stupid hours at the cinema, so I didn't really give it much thought.

Debs, however, loved them and reread them a few times.

We moved back across the country and I got a job working in Ottakars, the bookstore (which I've mentioned before). By the time Order of the Phoenix came out in 2003, the interest in Harry Potter was huge, and there was no escape from the impact it was having - it was getting kids back into reading, and the midnight launch for that book was one of the most exciting and tiring book launches ever. Hundreds of kids dressed up, midnight opening, closed the store again at 3am, only to reopen that morning at 6am for more eager fans desperate to read the next instalment. We had owls in the shop, and it was brilliant.

However, I still hadn't read them.

When the first movie came out in 2001, Debs was really excited and we went opening day for it. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Debs told me all the bits I was missing from the books. The next film was even better, made my Kenneth Branagh's hilarious performance is Gilderoy Lockhart. I was definitely getting into it, but in the back of my mind I was convinced the story was just Star Wars. (Orphaned kid, raised by aunt/uncle, has special powers, trained by a wizard, dark lord and his bad guys... all it needed was Voldemort to reveal he was Harry's father, and Hermione to be his sister, and my theory was complete).

With each movie, the tension was getting... well, tenser... and the themes were getting darker. But by Prisoner of Azkaban, the look of the movies changed. Gone were the pointy hats, in came the uniforms we now associate with Harry Potter. Every character had a wand that suited their personality, Hogwarts looked better, and you really could tell things were getting better, darker, and more epic.

We went to see Prisoner of Azkaban opening day again, and I was engrossed. I still hadn't read the books, so the plot was all a surprise to me. The twists came and threw me completely, and then...

Time Travel...

Heck yes. This was brilliant. Weird things that had happened in the movie came full circle as the characters went back in time and interacted with their own timelines. Freakin' awesome.

And that was the moment I was sold. I caved and started reading the books, and really enjoyed them - though I remember I got distracted half way through Prisoner of Azkaban and returned to them about a year later. I really must give them another read - I remember particularly loving Half-Blood Prince as it had so much backstory for Tom Riddle and Voldemort that wasn't in the movies...

Anyway, this is about the movies. Prisoner of Azkaban was the movie that really turned me from being a casual liker of Harry Potter to a full on fan. Debs was even more obsessive than me, and since then we've been to midnight screenings of them, seen them with full orchestra accompaniment at the Royal Albert Hall, and been to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter so many times I've lost count. (Must be about 8 or 9 times now, I can't remember).

Our house looks a lot like the Gryffindor common room, and when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was announced we were there in the front row for the "fan event" with the cast and J K Rowling in the very same room as us.

Harry Potter and the Wizarding World has since become a bit of an obsession for me, and I'm still convinced that a tabletop RPG set in the Wizarding World would be the greatest thing ever... one day...

One day...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just watched this the other day with the kids. We are ding all the potter fims again. I think this is my favourite too. I love Fudge's assistant at the leaky cauldron. Brilliant.

But I have never worked out why there's a front and middle cameo by Ian Brown. What's he doing in there?