The Harry Potter 20th Anniversary – Return to Hogwarts reunion special is now streaming on HBO Max and packs an emotional punch for fans of the original series. It’s a beautiful ode to the powerhouse series. Here is what stood out:
I NEVER REALIZED HOW MUCH THIS SERIES IMPACTED ME.
I remember going to get the books at midnight with friends and family, something that really was unique to the series and hasn’t repeated itself since (aside from midnight premieres of movies). I grew up with these books and, in turn, the movies. In many of the characters, we can find part of ourselves reflected, we can feel seen, and we can enjoy their journeys that are larger than anything that could ever be experienced in this world. That is the magic of Harry Potter.
THE ASTONISHING NUMBER OF AMAZING BRITISH ACTORS THE SERIES FEATURED.
Watching the reunion special, I am once again reminded at the powerhouse British actors who stepped into roles within the series. Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, and Richard Griffiths are just a few of the notables who lend their gravitas to Harry Potter. Is there another series that can say the same?
THE LOOMING ABSENCE OF J.K. ROWLING
While I think it was the right decision, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling was notably absent from the reunion special, aside from a few clips of archival interviews. She has, of course, become quite problematic in recent years, specifically in her anti-transgender rhetoric and continued defense of said comments. For a series that meant so much to so many, especially when it comes to inclusion, her stances are all the more shocking. What a shame.
THE STRANGE AVOIDANCE OF ALBUS DUMBLEDORE
While there was a lot of discussion about the late Richard Harris from the first two films (Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets), Michael Gambon was briefly shown… and that’s about it. The character of Albus Dumbledore was largely ignored for the entire special, an odd move given the impact of Dumbledore on Harry and the many notable lessons taught through the character throughout the series. It also comes across as strange given the revelation in the final book that Dumbledore was a gay man, yet another opportunity to highlight the positive inclusion within the series. This part is all baffling to me. Sure, Gambon is an older man now who has been public about his battle with memory loss, but some recognition would have been great.
WE OWE CHRIS COLUMBUS AND DAVID YATES
The reunion spends some time with Chris Columbus, the man with the original idea for bringing the books to the screen and the director of the first two films. Columbus shepherded the series into cinemas and established the visuals of the world we have come to love. On the other side of things, David Yates directed the final 3 films and brought the series to a a remarkable close. Yates continues to expand the Wizarding World with the Fantastic Beasts series, of which he has directed three of the planned five films and is attached to the final two.
TOM + EMMA 4EVA
Of all of the relationships discussed, none surprised me more than that of Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger). Though a few years apart in age, the actors had a brother/sister relationship that is discussed the two of them with such adoration for the other, it can’t help but make you emotional.
I’M READY FOR MORE
Bring them back. I’m ready. I know it’s a cash-grab, but I want more of not only the characters that I grew up loving, but the wonderful people behind them. Let’s explore life after Hogwarts.
Photo from BBC