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Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts and the Return to Childhood

EVELINA ERICKSON
News Editor

The world everyone wishes existed, continues to enthrall audiences around the world. On the first of January, 2022 HBO Max released a 1 hour and 42 minute movie special about the actors who were a part of the Harry Potter Film Series who reunited this past year in Britain. They are revisiting the sets and memories, 20 years later of when the first film came out in 2001. It is called Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts. Despite setbacks from COVID-19 the actors were able to safely meet in London at the Leavesden Studios, where scenes from the movies were shot.

“I thought it was good,” said sophomore Maya Coltrin who recently watched the reunion. “I liked how they went through all the different movies and talked about them and how they were interviewed in the different commons rooms.”

Most of the main character actors attended the reunion excluding a handful who could not attend due to wanting to staying out of the public eye or having a conflicting project, such as Robert Pattinson (Cedric), Maggie Smith (McGonagall), Micheal Gambon (Dumbledore), Imelda Staunton (Umbridge), Julie Walters (Mrs. Weasley), Harry Melling (Dudley), David Thewlis (Lupin), Timothy Spall (Pettigrew) and others. Still, it was fun to watch and listen to the actors that did attend and their insight on what it was like shooting the Harry Potter films. Definitely worth giving a watch if you are a fan of the Harry Potter world!

In the reunion, separate interviews were conducted with members of the cast and production, as well as interviews between the directors (Chris Columbus, Alfonso Charon, Mike Mike Newell, and David Yates) and actors, there were interviews between the main three characters actors, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione), and Rupert Grint (Ron), interviews with the Malfoy and Black family members (Tom Felton, Jason Issacs, Helena Boham Carter, and Gary Oldman), and more interviews with many of the cast members like Matthew Lewis (Neville), Bonnie Wright (Ginny), Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Evanna Lynch (Luna), the Phelps twins- Oliver (George) and James (Fred), and Alfred Enoch (Dean). 

The reunion was split into four chapters and various sub-chapters. It mainly covered the relationships between the actors in Harry Potter and in turn their characters. What it was like working with an amazing cast as children, and acting on amazing sets (thanks to production designer Stuart Craig  who was the production designer) which they returned to for the reunion (common rooms, Gringotts, Potions Class, and others). There were a lot of little stories and details mentioned in the reunion too, like falling candles, a hamster named Millie, and sleeping in some of England’s great monuments. The reunion also included an “in memoriam” section where they discussed the actors on the Harry Potter films who have since passed like Alan Rickman (Snape), Richard Harris (Dumbledore), Helen McCrory (Narcissa), and Richard Griffiths (Vernon).  Including this in the reunion was so special and sweet to honor the wonderful actors.

As with television shows and movie franchises, viewers get attached to not only the characters but the actors as well. People become invested with what was going on behind the scenes, the 10-years in the making, Harry Potter films were no exception. Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts on HBO Max is a joy to see. Especially since many people grew up alongside the characters and therefore the actors who are a part of the Harry Potter world. It is heartwarming and emotional to see the actors all grown up with flashbacks of the franchise. 

Focusing on the hard work and commitment of the actors, questions, whether or not people are giving credit where credit is due, though.

“The reason I didn’t watch the reunion is because they’re actors, they’re not the people in the books, they’re not the characters; I love the characters,” said San Marcos Librarian, Ms. McMillan. “However, I really love the Harry Potter movies. I think they feel different than the books, but they feel just as joyful and capture the characters really well.”

Without the strong character personalities and growing up with them, people probably would not have been so invested in the actors (keeping in mind the actors’ great acting also brought to life aspects of the characters). What complicates things is that J. K. Rowling did not attend the reunion even when she created the whole world, rules of quidditch, and characters. The reunion includes videos of Rowling previously, “Filmed in 2019 at Warner Bros, Studio Tour London,” as the movie tags in the top right corner.  Rowling was extended an invitation to the reunion but declined, Entertainment Weekly mentioned. This leaves people wondering if she and her team found the archived content better suitable to use because of recent controversies about her and the trans community. 

All in all, the reunion movie special was truly special to watch and worth watching. Getting to see the sets again, and the actors who were a part of the Harry Potter series together again lights up childhood memories and uncovers a love for the whole world, so many of us were and still are closely invested in. Because of this, everyone is also wondering, is there going to be another reunion in the future?

Illustration by Evelina Erickson

Evelina Erickson

News Editor

Evelina is a sophomore at San Marcos High School…

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