Where would any millennial’s list of favourite things be without including Harry Potter?
Now, I could easily include both the film series and the books in this list, but in my mind, the original books had much more of an influence on me as a person than the films did. That said, my childhood was very much bookmarked by the excitement of the next Harry Potter film release. I still feel something of this excitement when I think about the Fantastic Beasts films, but Johnny Depp’s involvement with the franchise has quite definitely destroyed the innocence of that excitement. The question still weighs heavy in my heart – if Kevin Spacey could be completely edited out and replaced by Christopher Plummer in a film which was already in post-production, why couldn’t Depp’s role as Grindelwald be recast? For a start, why couldn’t it be someone more appropriate to Grindelwald’s implied nationality, like oh say, creepy Bond villain turned Hannibal Lector turned one-time Marvel villain, Mads Mikkelsen?
But I digress (and leave you with that thought)…
As you can probably tell, I am incredibly passionate about Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling is something of an inspiration to me, not just through her literary creations, but as a person; she constantly reminds me of the importance of perseverance and that failure can be the building blocks to success. She is a powerful and unapologetic female voice, and while she’s not without her flaws, she has still influenced me as a writer and creative.
Harry Potter taught me many things. It taught me that difference should be prized and valued, that intelligence as much as bravery can win the day, and that kindness can be the greatest and most underestimated power in the world. But, most importantly, Harry Potter showed me how much pleasure can be gained from reading. When I was little, I had problems with my literacy and spelling, and I do class myself as being slightly dyslexic. It has never been enough for me to require extra time in exams or such like, but even now I am still aware that I read and write slower than a lot of people.
So, when I was little, my preferred mediums for absorbing and appreciating stories was through film or audio. I listened to a lot of talking books growing up, and this included Harry Potter, narrated by Stephen Fry. Now, I think we can all agree, almost without exception, that listening to Stephen Fry’s voice is like swimming in a bath of hot chocolate or something equally luxurious. He could read me the script of one of the new Conjuring films and I’d feel safe and warm in his dulcet tones. He brought Rowling’s works to life, and as such, he made me want to read the books for myself.
Reading Harry Potter for myself was one of the first times I felt like I had been completely transported to another world. I felt the same love and contentment and exhilaration Harry felt at returning to Hogwarts after a long summer with the Dursley’s whenever I dipped back into another Potter book. Which is why J.K. Rowling’s words at the film premiere of The Deathly Hallows part 2 particularly struck a nerve: “Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” And what a wonderful home it truly is.