Review by Angelos Sofocleous
For most young people today, it is difficult to imagine a time when Harry Potter was not a part of our lives, however small that part is. Whether one refers to the book series, the best-selling book series in history, or the films (the second highest-grossing film series of all time), Harry Potter’s magical world has always been a point of reference to our childhood.
Under the phantasmagorical scenery of Durham Cathedral, hundreds of adults seized the opportunity to take a trip back to their childhood, literally visiting parts of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, since scenes from the movie were filmed at the Cathedral.
The audience viewed the film at the place where Harry, Hermione, and Ron built their friendship, where Harry tried to hide from Professor Snape under his invisibility cloak, and where Ron and Harry stressfully ran to Professor McGonagall’s class only to be scolded for being late.
‘There is no such thing as magic!’, Harry’s Uncle Vernon shouted early in the film, his voice echoing in the nave amidst the dead silence of the spectators. However, the very presence of the audience, who, 16 years after the film’s release, show the same commitment, affection and attachment to it, proved Uncle Vernon categorically wrong.
Although the Harry Potter series takes place in an imaginary world, its real-world implications are felt by all: love, adventure, hate, humour, sadness, fear, trust, surprise and anger. That evening, you could see, in the faces of hundreds of people, how much they identified with the film’s characters, revealing the real magic behind the film and the mastery of J.K. Rowling. Any barrier that exists between us and any imaginary world completely disappears in Harry Potter, incorporating the real into the magical, and the magical into the real.
There is no doubt that Harry Potter will forever hold a place deep within us. ‘After all this time?’, we may ask ourselves as we grow older. The answer is: ‘Always’.
Cuckoo Review is an arts journalism programme for young writers aged 15-23. Through the Cuckoo Reviewers in Residence programme at Durham Book Festival, young people have reviewed festival events and books, and have interviewed featured authors. For more information about Cuckoo Review visit review.cuckoowriters.com.