Blue Filter: The Harry Potter Films

Harry Potter

In our Blue Filter series, we are inviting our writers to reflect on the films that they have connected with through challenging or upsetting times, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and before. In the latest entry of the series, Jen Charlton reflects on how the Harry Potter films transport her back to her childhood and how her understanding of the films has changed.

Over the last year, it is safe to say that we have relied heavily on entertainment. Whether it be a book, a new game, or a film, there has been plenty of content (old and new) to keep us going. I found myself drifting back into my childhood favourites. I don’t know if it is because of TikTok or the fact that I am reading the books, but I have become hooked on Harry Potter again. So hooked in fact, I am going to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London in two weeks’ time.

There is something just so familiar and comforting about the Harry Potter series. I tend to associate it with winter, as that is when it was always on TV when I was younger. I vividly remember being excited every Sunday as ITV would play the films in the run up to Christmas. Now, as an adult, they provide reassuring escapism from the real world. From seeing the characters grow up across the eight films, to the magic unfolding on-screen, there is so much warmth and safety that allow me to step away from real-life troubles for a while. 

Another factor that led me to watching the films again is probably TikTok (and I’m not talking about #DracoTok). One trend that sticks out is the fan-casting of the Marauders era, featuring the likes of Ben Barnes as a young Sirius Black to Andrew Garfield as a young Remus Lupin. Videos vary, with some editing clips to fit with a certain song, whilst some create scenarios. One such scenario I will always remember is the re-imagining of how the Marauders Map was made. Clips of Barnes and Garfield, as well as Aaron Taylor-Johnson as James Potter and Dane DeHaan as Peter Pettigrew, are brilliantly put together. What strikes me is that these brief viral clips are loyal to the wonderous tone of the films, a connection that drew me back into the wizarding world during lockdown.

Revisiting the films now, I often drift into thinking of how many scenes and small details from the books could have been included. In Order of the Phoenix, we read about how Hagrid and Madame Maxine travel far and wide to visit some giants. The film barely mentions this. Even some proper character development in the films would be welcome; Ginny Weasley in the books is a confident lead, full of wit and brilliant at drawing up plans. In the films however, she is awkward and rarely stands up for herself.

These things being as they may, my love for Harry Potter has only increased as I have gotten older. I loved it as a child of course, but now I have been able to relate and connect with the characters even more. For instance, I have always deeply admired Luna Lovegood, someone who is typically considered ‘odd’ and ‘different.’ As I grew older, I began to associate myself with Luna, and it allowed me to embrace my ‘weirdness,’ accepting the fact that I don’t follow the crowd. In the books, Luna’s nickname was ‘Loony,’ and there have been times where I have been called (jokingly) ‘dumb dumb.’ Though the two nicknames are in a different sense, both signal an unwillingness to fully appreciate or understand the choices someone else has made, or simply the way that they are. Luna always suggests different ideas and is often brimming with optimism—much to the frustration Harry, Ron, and the rest. She struggles to be taken seriously, something I have experienced in the past as well. Plus, Luna doesn’t care what anyone thinks. I have always struggled with this, always feeling a need to fit in and bend to the viewpoints of others. That is, until I went to university, and realised I can take my own route in life. .

Revisiting Harry Potter during a December lockdown movie marathon has given me the chance to reflect on this transition and how I have changed going into adulthood. It was also then when I decided that the films would not be as good if they were made today with different actors. The original cast feel as though these characters were made for these roles. To cast anyone else would risk sacrificing the warmth and comfort I mentioned earlier. Furthermore, the colouring and tones, along with the early 2000s cinematography and CGI, give the films such authenticity. I couldn’t imagine the series being a glossy, pristinely packaged blockbuster. The impressive CGI used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe would not sit right with me if it were to be used in a remake of the Harry Potter series. Even if visual effects technology had advanced dramatically in the past ten years, the series is beautiful as it is.

To have been able to revisit the series during the last year in a more focused way has been wonderful. It has given me an environment to fully immerse myself in, somewhere I am still able to find hope. I remember I said to my friend that it would be cool if Hogwarts was just sat in the Lake District or in the Scottish Highlands… until she pointed out that we didn’t get the letter at the age of eleven, and that means that we are among the mere muggles of this world. That being said, I am nearly 21 and still like to believe that there is some sort of magic out there. Harry Potter helps me to strengthen this belief a little bit more after every watch.

Words by Jen Charlton.

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