After the celebration of the franchise’s 20th anniversary, Film Critic Halima Ahad takes us through the Harry Potter series, writing that the magical films are just as special two decades on
It has been 20 years since the iconic Harry Potter film franchise begun, with the first film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone being released on the 16th of November 2001. It is easily one of my favourite film franchises. The fantastical, magical world of the books being brought alive to the screen has honestly made my childhood.
The films follow the journey of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), an eleven-year-old orphan who discovers that he is a wizard and is transported to the magical wizarding world of Hogwarts. However, there is trouble awaiting him along the way as he fights the ominous Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes).
The film franchise began in 2001 and ended in 2011 with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. The films were huge blockbuster successes, gaining more than $7 billion in the global box office and even more in franchises, theme parks, toys, books and scarves.
The celebration of the twentieth anniversary came in January, as the cast of the Harry Potter franchise reunited for ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’ with in-depth interviews about their characters and behind the scenes moments from across the eight films. The TV special also had hopes to ‘honour the magic behind the magic of the films’ as Warner Bros said. The cast behind the film included Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, who played the troublesome trio that was Harry, Hermione and Ron.
The first film Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone follows ten-year old orphan Harry Potter who lives with the Dursleys, who hate him greatly. One day, he receives a letter from Hogwarts: School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, but his Uncle Vernon stops at nothing to prevent him from getting it. On his 11th birthday, Harry’s life changes forever. He discovers that he is a wizard and that his parents were also a witch and a wizard. The cinematography and special effects for this film were absolutely stunning, this can be seen with the amazing shots of the Hogwarts central hallway with its moving staircase and chatty portraits of famous witches and wizards of past times. The main Quidditch scene, where Hogwarts students play sports while flying on broomsticks, is extremely enticing for audiences of the film.
The second film, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, follows Harry as he once again return to Hogwarts for a fantastical journey. However, he is stopped and warned by house elf Dobby (Toby Jones) about the strange happenings that are going on in Hogwarts. When students begin to get petrified, Harry realises that there is more to the story than he could have ever known. The acting of the Golden Trio (Harry, Hermione and Ron) is terrific. The audience sees the gradual maturity of the trio as they adjust to the new beginnings that are happening at Hogwarts. The colour palette is similar to Philosopher’s Stone with bright colours and occasional dark colours to the set the mood and tone for the scene.
The third film Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban shifts the mood in what audiences can expect from the Harry Potter film franchise at this point. With its darker storyline, audiences can see how Harry is maturing and finding out about his parent’s past whilst also juggling the events which are happening at Hogwarts. The film follows Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts and learn about Sirius Black, the notorious killer who is on the loose and is out to get Harry. However, when they meet him they learn that the truth is different to what they have been told. The darker colour palette overall sets an ominous tone for the film and although there are occasional light-hearted moments in the film, Prisoner of Azkaban is a serious film showcasing the importance of family and seeking the truth for yourself.
The last five films showcase Harry’s internal as well as physical battle with Voldemort overall. In the fourth film, Goblet of Fire, the inter-school Triwizard Tournament takes place and Harry is pulled into a dark conspiracy which could potentially endanger his life. The new actors in this film pleased me very much, I felt as if it was a breath of fresh air watching them.
Overall, I enjoyed the Harry Potter film franchise so much. I feel as if it was just the beginning for Daniel Radcliffe and the rest of the cast and the many avenues this would open for them in the beginnings of their careers.
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