Saturday, July 23, 2011

My Life with Harry Potter: The End of an Era

I went on a date last Wednesday.

While I sat through migraine inducing meetings in Clark the whole day, I was counting the hours till my movie date with Jami. We were all set to see the final instalment of the Harry Potter film series and headache or no headache I was going to make that date.

I cannot help but feel nostalgic. After all, Jami and I have been going to our Harry Potter movie dates since he was about 6 years old.  We have had this 10-year love affair with Harry Potter movies, while Harry has had my heart for the last 12 years, from the time I bought my first HP novel (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).

I stepped into the theatre, excited for my first Harry Potter 3D experience. The visuals and special effects were amazing! Yeah, the glasses were kind of awkward, but really, there was no chance to ogle at how strange or funny we all looked because I simply couldn’t peel my eyes off the giant screen. Jami, in his usual “makulit” ways would not stop grabbing at things that appeared to be right in front of him. While I have to blame the 3D goggles for that embarrassing move when I dipped my hand into Jam’s hotdog sandwich, ketchup, mayo and all, mistaking it for the tub of cheese popcorn! Jami for sure wanted to laugh out loud and scream, “MAMA, FAIL!”

If you were to ask me for a brief review of the movie, well, I wouldn’t be able to give you a good one. Maybe I was too overwhelmed with the moving pictures in front of me, or for whatever reason, I was not in “critique mode” for this HP film.  In the past, I always felt the HP movies didn’t do justice to the books. There would be many details omitted, if not entirely revised. I’ve always held the conviction that all novels are far better than their movie versions and with the Harry Potter films, I have come to accept that  no amount of movie magic could capture 800 pages of goodness and cram it in a 2 and a half hour movie.

In reality, I know how the story goes. I finished the 7th book, the last one, in 2007. The movie experience for me was perhaps just a translation of how it would all look outside of my head.  But that has always been my expectation for all Harry Potter movies – would it match the version I’d played in my head while reading the novel?  And if parts of it weren’t to my liking, I knew there would always be a next film to improve on the last one.

But this last time was different. This time, I might not have set my expectations too high.  This time, I might have allowed myself to be kind and forgiving. For whatever shortcomings this film may have had for others, I could not find any major fault with this one.  I realize now that when I came to see the movie I was already struggling to accept the inevitable closure that was about to take place. And despite the “oohs” and “aahs” and all the funny, heart-warming and exhilarating moments in the film which I allowed myself to enjoy, I could feel a part of me that was numb with sadness.  

When I was reading the last novel, I cried when many of the characters I’ve grown to love over the years were killed in the epic Battle of Hogwarts.  Imagine my pain when I saw the same scenes on screen. I was sobbing like a kid and I was not ashamed. Somewhere inside the theatre I could hear others were crying with me, and it wasn’t just the muffled sobs of children that I heard out there.

As the catch phrase for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2) goes, “IT ALL ENDS HERE”.
The last scene faded and the credits scrolled, and I had to lean back into my seat and let it all sink in. Beside me, a big British dad was consoling his son (a high school junior) who wept even as the lights came on. I wanted to go over and hug him.

This was it – the end of an era. If I had to pick out one word to describe the moment, I would call it BITTERSWEET.

No more Harry Potter movie dates. I know Jam and I will move on to Breaking Dawn, the next superhero film (there’s Man of Steel and The Amazing Spiderman) or maybe a GLEE Movie. But no other book or movie series will ever take the place of Harry Potter in our hearts. Jam and I grew up with Harry Potter...together.  Perhaps that’s the magic that the books and movies brought to many parents and their children across the world.

And come to think of it, the magic will never truly end. Harry Potter is the legend I will share with Kissy.  I have my books and the movies ready, and in the next few years a chance to experience the magic all over again.