That’s all there is, there is no more
I haven’t read a word of the Harry Potter series. Not one word. My intentions to do so were fleeting and only arose once the people around me, the ones whose opinions I trust implicitly, began reading and recommending it to me. It all sounded good, but I was already three films deep at the time and those books are not short. In fact, nearly all of the films based on them clock in at well over two hours and I have yet to see one without someone complaining about something being left out.
So that ship had sailed. In all honesty, I almost didn’t get on board with the films either. Chris Columbus, director of Adventures in Babysitting (1987), Home Alone (1990) and Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), is certainly competent, but he doesn’t exactly bring much to the table, and I was mostly underwhelmed by his interpretation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001). It is a fine children’s film, but carries only a hint of what’s to come. He tackled the sequel, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), with equal (lack of) flair and style. I was fond of Harry, but in the same way I’m fond of most of my extended family. “That was nice visit. See you in a few months.”
Then came Alfonso Cuaron, director of the fabulous Spanish film, Y Tu Mama Tambien (2001) and the third Harry Potter film, The Prisoner of Azkaban (2004). It was the first Potter flick I made a point of seeing in the theater. Call me a snob, but Cuaron’s name being mentioned lent a certain air of respect to what I had viewed as being largely children’s fare (albeit, better-than-average children’s fare). More mature, stylish and foreboding, Azkaban quickly became my favorite Potter film, establishing a vibe the series maintained throughout the rest of its impressive run.
Ever since Azkaban I have managed to see all but Goblet of Fire (2005) in theaters. The series has certainly become aesthetically brilliant, but the stories have matured as well. In fact, what’s most impressive to me about the Harry Potter series in general, aside from the engrossing story, aside from the large cast of unique, complicated characters, is the fact that J.K. Rowling has managed to craft a tale that has matured right along with its fan base. There are many Potterheads (is that a thing? If it isn’t, it should be) that started reading the series when they were young and, now in early adulthood, feel as though they have grown up with Harry and friends because, well, they have.
There is no better evidence of this than when Harry, gazing into the pensieve for the last time using Snape’s tear (I hear tell its brain matter or something in the book. I’m kind of okay with that change), sees visions of himself in the previous films. Even being what I would describe as a casual fan, it’s really something to take in what a journey these films (and books) have been for so many involved.
No, I have no plans to read the books now. I know how it ends. I have taken the trip, even with the inevitable shortcuts a film adaptation must take. I’m okay with that. I am not sad to see the series come to a close because all good things must come to an end, and Harry Potter and friends have a fine ending, indeed.