Melodramatic Muggles

By Merav Kaufman

Maria Uminski/Collegian
With the much-anticipated release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” July 15 was the ultimate midsummer night’s dream for all fans of the lovable, bespectacled, chronically-occupied boy wizard.
As I was in the midst of drawing a scar on my forehead in honor of the occasion, my sister and I entered an argument, in typical fashion, over the film we were yet to see – specifically, over where the previous installment had left off.

For some reason, I was thoroughly convinced that part one had included the heart-wrenching Gringott’s escapade: I could so clearly picture Bellatrix Lestrange’s luxurious vault, the disastrous traps that befell the characters and their ultimate heroic escape on the back of a wild dragon. However, it turned out that my sister was right: the dragon scene was yet to come.

My embarrassing mistake actually served to emphasize the relative triviality, for me at least, of the films as compared to the books. It was J.K. Rowling’s masterful story-telling, rather than any film, that painted such a vivid picture in my mind. While the movies have comprised a wonderful supplement to the books – providing image and voice to the story and characters which audiences can collectively enjoy – they pale in comparison to the novel’s depth, complexity and descriptive writing that allows for the reader’s imagination to run wild and for young hopefuls to eagerly await their letter from Hogwarts on their 11th birthday.

Much of my Facebook newsfeed that essential weekend contained such original statuses as “Off to see HP7- the end of an era” and “My childhood is officially over.” Popular at the time, I could only dismiss such lamentations as mere melodramatic nostalgia.

By no means am I trying to downplay the scope of the event. It’s true that the seventh film did a satisfactory job capturing the final moments of the series. And now that the final novel and film have both been released, gone is the anticipation and suspense, the speculation regarding the yet unwritten story and its on-screen adaptation, and the midnight premieres filled with costume-laden fans.

The Harry Potter series has enriched our generation in innumerable ways. Beyond restoring our love for literature, it invented a new college sport (qudditch), redefined our idea of a Disney theme-park and taught us how to pronounce ‘Hermione.’

On a deeper level, the series touches upon issues of love, power, betrayal, friendship, loyalty, responsibility, adolescence, dysfunctional families, sacrifice and, of course, magic.

During the film’s final scenes, I was aware the story was ending for good. But let’s be real: it had already ended nearly three years prior, when I read the last of the novel’s 759 pages and allowed myself to sob for a good half hour.

The film merely allowed me to relive these emotional moments, but my nostalgia was only a shadow of its former self. Although I was tearing up during the epilogue, my tears, rather than stemming from grief, were produced by my laughter at the ridiculous attempt to make the actors look 19 years older.

I am obviously thrilled to have lived through the releases of the first Harry Potter book and each of its successors and feel fortunate to have been a part of the Potter generation.

Nevertheless, I stand by my assertion that the release of a final film installment need not be such an emotional ordeal. The beauty of literature is its timelessness: so assuming modern technology doesn’t ruin the act of reading as we know it, our children, too, will have the pleasure of vicariously boarding the Hogwarts Express at platform 9 ¾. They will discover a world that can only be imagined by a humble British writer.
Rather than marking the end of the story, the film affirms its continuity for generations to come.

Merav Kaufman is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]