Saturday, October 13, 2007

22 July: A Very Harry Potter Weekend (SPOILER WARNING!)

I am not embarrassed to admit that I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan. No, I don’t have a Gryffindor scarf hanging in my closet or anything like that, and I didn’t even get around to reading the books until we moved to Germany in 2005 (you may recall that I bought all six of them right before we left, and devoured them one after another in the first couple of months), but I got hooked on the films much earlier and, yes, I even own all four of them on DVD. So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that the final book in the series and the fifth movie would be coming out in the space of just over one week this July.

We knew from experience that we should not see the movie on opening night (July 12th) at Corso Kino, the English language theater in Vaihingen, because it would be thronged with kids from the U.S. military base (a lesson learned when we attended opening night of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in 2005). So I settled for having a very Harry Potter weekend instead: John agreed to see the fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, with me on Friday night, the 20th, and sometime on Saturday the 21st my copy of the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (which I had pre-ordered from several months ago) would be delivered to my eager hands by DHL.

The movie exceeded my expectations. It was certainly the most sophisticated of the series so far (not surprising given the increasingly dark story line), and I thought they did a fantastic job of retaining the critical elements of the plot while condensing an 870-page book into a manageable 150-minute movie. I actually felt that the climactic scene between Harry and Voldemort in the Ministry of Magic was even better scripted than in the book. I left wanting to see it again.

A few days ago I received an email from assuring me that my copy of Deathly Hallows would arrive no later than 6 pm on Saturday. Well, it seems that DHL had quite a lot of Harry Potter books to deliver, because even though I waited around anxiously all day, they didn’t ring our bell until close to 7. I was in the shower so John was delegated the embarrassing task of going downstairs and signing for the package, which of course had “Harry Potter” emblazoned all over it. He opened it before I came downstairs, and there it was, the hardcover British edition, lying on the dining room table in all its glory! (I hate the British cover art, by the way, and I could have paid to have the American edition shipped from the U.S., but I thought it would be fun to have the British version in my collection to remind me that I got it while I was in Germany.) I had, in the interim, decided to skim through the sixth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, to refresh my memory of recent events. It took me until midday on Sunday to finish the previous book, and then, at about 2:00 on Sunday afternoon, I started on Deathly Hallows. John insisted that I take a break to walk Cody with him, then I took a shower and we had dinner, but otherwise I pretty much read the book in one sitting. John went to bed around 11 and I settled in on the couch with candles blazing for a suitably magical atmosphere.

I admit, I was living in dread that Harry was going to die – based in part on the opening quotes of the book, which are about true friendships surviving beyond the boundaries of time. You can imagine my angst when I got to the final chapters and it really looked like Harry might die, or at least disappear into that foggy white in-between world resembling King’s Cross Station! I was thrilled that J.K. Rowling decided to pull him back into the land of the living to save the day, and the epilogue pretty much wrapped it all up in a tidy (enough) package that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It was certainly hard to go to bed afterwards, knowing that the Harry Potter saga has finally come to an end. On the bright side, at least there’s two more movies to get excited about!

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