Before you head out to catch the last movie in the Harry Potter series, here’s the story so far… YASHASVINI RAJESHWAR
Love it or hate it, you sure cannot ignore it. The Harry Potter sensation is here to stay. July 15 is known in history for the beginning for the Second Battle of Marne, the launch of Continental Airlines and for being the birth anniversary of Joe Satriani, the guitar legend. Yet, ask a random passer-by on the street why the date is important, you are likely to hear “Harry Potter” loud and clear.
Harry Potter and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley are fictional legends. Today’s generation grew up with the wizard with a lightning shaped scar; clutching volumes of his adventures. They feel his pain and celebrate his victories. Today’s generation has been the one which has stuck with Harry until the very end (quoting Rowling’s dedication in the seventh book), or at least tried to.
July 15 marks the end of an era; one that started with writing in isolated cafes and ended with the author being named “Most Influential Woman in Britain” in October 2010. On July 15 in thousands of screens around the world, young and old alike will walk into theatres after waiting for hours to watch 21st century’s most popular protagonist.
The Philosopher’s Stone
In 1997, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone hit the stands with an initial print of 1000 copies. The story spoke of three young students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy – one a Muggle (born to non-magical parents), one from a large family of wizards and one who is famous but didn’t know he was. They got to know each other, battled everything from levitating a feather to a three-headed dog and faced Devil’s Snare, flying keys, live chess boards and finally Professor Quirell-turned-Voldemort.
The Chamber of Secrets
A year later, the second book saw Ginny Weasley approach the limelight tentatively with the plot revolving around Harry (her future love) saving her from a Basilisk and the Chamber. This volume also saw the entry of Tom Riddle, the past tense to Voldemort, the boy who was before the monster was born.
The Prisoner of Azkaban
A little over a year later, this one found its way to millions of people around the world. This book was distinctively different from the rest for the sole reason that it did not feature Lord Voldemort as the antagonist. The Prisoner of Azkaban taught the world new words like Animagus and Dementors and, soon, they became common parlance. The story revolves around the escape of Sirius Black (Harry’s godfather) from Azkaban and his eventual release to safety with the help of our three young protagonists.
The Goblet of Fire
In July 2000 came book four. Rowling had earlier announced that someone would be murdered and ensured that the world was on tenterhooks. This book saw a lot of Quidditch action, what with the World Cup being one of the introductory scenes. Unexplainably, the Goblet of Fire spewed out Harry’s name, forcing him to becoming the youngest (and possibly the most unprepared) competitor in the Triwizard Tournament.
With the first task being to get a golden egg from under a dragon, the second to save a loved one from the depths of the lake and the third to reach the Cup at the centre of a maze, Harry proved his mettle time and time again. When the trophy turned into a portkey, Harry and Cedric Diggory (the only remaining contestant) got transported to a graveyard where Voldemort was waiting to kill Harry. Diggory dies but Harry survives. The story continues.
The Order of the Phoenix
The fifth and largest book, saw the light of day in June 2003. Even Harry is not beyond the rigours of schooling and, in this book, has to face his Ordinary Wizarding Levels (closest equivalent to our Std X boards). The Order of the Phoenix saw the Order fighting the Dark Lord but also Dumbledore’s Army, a group of students from Hogwarts doing their bit to becoming stronger in case of attack.
The Half-Blood Prince
This penultimate book saw Harry becoming a Potions genius with the help of a second-hand textbook belonging to the mysteriously-named “Half-blood Prince”. Using the Penseive to look at the past and learning about Hocruxes (pieces of a person’s soul), Harry becomes stronger to fight the now-returned Voldemort. Romance starts blossoming as well with Hermione becoming increasingly jealous of Lavender Brown, Ron’s new girlfriend, and Ginny and Harry hitting it off as well. Harry is also Quidditch captain of Gryffindor and so sees a lot of action. The book ends with Dumbledore dying (murdered by Snape) and Harry being unable to stop it because Dumbledore froze him in place before he was attacked. He vows to not return to Hogwarts, to continue the journey that Dumbledore began and to work to destroy Voldemort. As expected, Ron and Hermione promise to join him.
The Deathly Hallows
In the final novel tracing this now-young-man’s journey, Voldemort is now in control of The Ministry of Magic. The trio are searching for the remaining Hocruxes. After destroying Helga Hufflepuff’s cup and Rowena Ravenclaw’s diadem, the three students and their friends protect Hogwarts when Voldemort attacks. This is a book of death with the ensuing battle seeing the murder of Lupin, Tonks, Fred and Snape. After more magical drama (quite literally), Harry defeats Voldemort and the wizarding world was at peace again.
From 2001 to 2011, the last decade has seen the release of all the novels in cinema form, enchanting millions around the world. From 2001 to 2011, all of us have seen the adventurous characters come alive on the big screen. When the sun dawns on July 15, everyone will witness the end of a global phenomenon. What started off with “Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of Number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much” ends with “The scar had not pained Harry for 19 years. All was well”.
YASHASVINI RAJESHWAR has finished her A Levels
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