It’s over. The final film has been screened. Now what?
As I write this piece, John Williams’s “Leaving Hogwarts” is playing in the background on Repeat One. And while I don’t usually have anything in the background when I write, this instance I feel is the one exception I should make; the particular is dawning on me and fast, it has ended, and I don’t quite think I’m read to face it yet. I want to keep Harry with me for even a little while longer.
I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in the morning of July 14th, in a cinema almost full despite it being the first screening for the day. I went in with conflicting emotions and went out feeling the same way, if not even more distressed: I didn’t know if I should be glad it happened or be sad that it ended or hyped up with the brilliance and intensity of the film; I was confused; I was emotional; I felt lost. (I remember having sat down inside Powerbooks right after the movie had ended and spent a few minutes in solemn silence; I was sorting out the influx of both unwanted and otherwise emotions that had rendered me stupefied.) However, from the tumult of these ineffable feelings, there was one distinct emotion I knew was certain, sticking up from above.
And it is this.
It may or may not have been in that part when the logo of Warner Brothers came up. It may or may not have been when the last few minutes of the film rolled in, the Hogwarts Express zooming out of view, the camera focuses on Harry’s face for the very last time and the screen fades to black, or somewhere in between the phantasmagoria; but I knew, as I took to leave from that darkened room, something inside me expire. And it was, I suspect, as many of those who have seen the film suspect as well, the grief of witnessing one’s childhoods end.
There really is no point dramatizing the end and dwelling in the particular: there are already way too many stories similar to this one, and better, that I’m not even going to try. I will, however, tread in that edge bordering that peculiar sadness, as I feel it my duty as a Potterhead. (My editor actually wanted me to write a bright, cheerful piece quite the opposite of this one. And I did write one, or at least, tried. A failed attempt as it turned out, as I was literally papered with false starts and found myself couldn’t circumnavigate toward the bright and the cheerful.)
We have literally grown up with Harry and his friends. The little kids that we were in the summer of 1997 and 1998, thirteen years later, are now no longer the kids we used to be, just as the boy under the cupboard under the stairs are no longer that kid. Dramatic as it may seem, the world Jo has given us are not merely stories we have loved and grown up with; they are as part of us as bad writing is part of Stephenie Meyer, as teen angst is part of Holden Caulfield, as pride and prejudice are pare part of Darcy and Elizabeth. They are stories in which we see reflected the world around us, the society we belong in, the people we know, the virtues of love and courage, the vices of greed and anger, the fallibility of human character, our friends’ lives, our lives. These stories might as well be portraits of us.
For years we have been fighting with Harry, loving with Hermione, and laughing with Ron. Seeing all those years come to a close, seeing Harry and the rest of the gang bid us their final goodbyes, like the parting of ways of the closest of friends, is a difficult and sad affair. And it should be. Gone are the days of queuing up for the release of the newest book. There will never be again that hype of seeing the latest film adaptation.
Things, as we knew about Harry and his world, will never be again quite the same. The end has left in us a void no one else could be able to fill but the world Jo has brought to life. A strange and curious grief like this one cannot easily be put to words and explained, but can easily be felt by those who share it. We mourn not only the end of the franchise but for the end of our childhoods as well.
Harry’s story has been told and ended. The phenomenon has finally come to a close. But that doesn’t mean they will be gone; the story of the boy who lived with a lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead will remain in our hearts and in our lives. Because the greatest of stories will indeed live in us forever. Jo has said it best: “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”