This week, I had one dream die and one dream come true. This past Tuesday, I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies again in theaters (IMAX this time) and it was even better than the last time I saw it. I think what made it better yet bittersweet was that it finally hit me that the journey of Middle Earth is over. I have been on this ride since 2001 when The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released and it has finally come to a close. I’m so grateful to have had this as a part of my life. It has honestly contributed to my love for film and really set a standard for literary fantasies turned into cinematic experiences. This childhood resurgence didn’t end there, however, as I had the privilege of going to the Warner Bros. Studio for the Harry Potter tour. It was honestly life-changing.
I felt like I time-traveled back to my six-year-old self (coincidentally also in 2001) as they opened the doors to the Great Hall and it was at that moment I felt this surge of pride and joy that I grew up with Harry Potter as a part of my childhood. My generation was so lucky to have this magical world come to life right before our eyes as we literally grew up with Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson. Though I initially felt like the magic was being stripped in front of my eyes as I saw the miniature sets and the green screens, it simultaneously made me appreciate the films even more as I could see how much work and care goes into making this fantasy a reality. I also took it upon myself to speak with a guide who’d been an extra in The Half Blood Prince through The Deathly Hallows and I was hanging onto every word trying to live vicariously through him. It was so hard to imagine being a part of it all day in and day out for two years straight as he had. His story-telling also helped to revive the magic. It wasn’t until the second half of the tour that I was overcome with the same bittersweet feelings I’d felt during the viewing of The Hobbit.
The second half was dedicated to the special and visual effects, costuming, and post-production process. I saw the Basilisk, Buckbeak, the Dementors, and Aragog. I truly became a child when we turned the corner to enter Diagon Alley. There it all was: Gringott’s Bank, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, and all the little shops we hardly turn a blind eye to but contribute so much to the overall image of the wizarding world. I also thoroughly enjoyed the sketch room, the concept art, and the scaled-down models of all the pieces of Hogwarts that make it what it is, like The Whomping Willow and Hagrid’s Hut, for example. There were also framed stills from the films adorning the walls that made it all feel once again as though it weren’t a film. The finale of the tour was none other than a life-size replica of Hogwarts. I teared up partially due to the fact that it was still too small to walk in, but also because there it was in front of me. The tour closed in Ollivander’s Wand Shop connected to the gift shop and I was so sad to feel it all end, but I will definitely be back [without cameras]. It was literally and completely a dream come true.
“The stories we love do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”