By Caroline Nelissen
Youth Journalism International
AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands – The final Harry Potter movie has been said to signify “the end of an era” more than once and, considering the vast amount of people who have been following the books and movies over the years, it probably does.
Harry and his friends are not usually on my mind these days, but seeing television interviews with people who were on the verge of tears because they would miss the characters they grew up with did bring back some memories for me.
In many ways, I grew up with these characters, too, but somehow my Harry Potter era ended long before the final film adaptation.
If I am to believe what I have read about it, the books, as well as the films, become much darker towards the end.
The Harry Potter I will always remember was still rather innocent, and his adventures were an endless source of enjoyment.
For my ninth birthday, my parents gave me the first two books of the series. I read a Dutch translation, as I didn’t speak any English at the time.
Because of this, it still feels a little odd to hear Harry’s school referred to as “Hogwarts” rather than “Zweinstein,” as it was called in the Dutch versions.
I recall having the ungrounded feeling that I would not like Harry Potter, but nothing could have been further from the truth.
Once I had entered this magical world I never wanted to leave again. I received the third and fourth book for Christmas and eagerly finished them as well.
Then, I re-read all of them more times than I remember. I would read my favorite parts until I practically knew them by heart and although the exact words have faded, some of the images I created in my head while reading are still etched in my memory.
To me, the stories about Harry Potter were so much more than just stories; I wanted to live them.
Together with an equally obsessed friend, I wrote pages full of recipes for magic potions and everywhere in my room, small bottles with gross-smelling liquids could be found.
I loved wearing the long black cloak my mother made me and I spent hour after hour examining and testing different twigs to find the magical wand that would be the perfect match for me.
To my utter disappointment, I did not appear to possess any significant magical powers. Not that that stopped me from firmly believing I would receive an invitation to study at Hogwarts on my 11thbirthday.
During recess at school, my friends and I would pretend we were Harry, Ron or Hermione and for some time, pretty much every birthday party I went to had a Harry Potter theme, including my own.
In 2001, I went to see the first Harry Potter film to celebrate my 10th birthday. II was incredibly excited to finally see my favorite book come to life.
I didn’t dislike the film, but somehow it never quite had the same magic the books had for me. Perhaps I just loved the books too much to ever completely embrace any visual adaptation but my own.
Some time after the first film, my Harry Potter obsession started to dwindle.
After seeing the second film, and not liking it too much, I still read the fifth book, but just once and not with the same passion I had had for its predecessors.
I did watch some of the other films because I happened upon them, but never was I completely captured by Harry’s magical world again. Therefore, the fact that the final Harry Potter movie has come out is not a milestone of any real significance for me.
I probably wouldn’t even have known if it hadn’t been all over the media.
But while I still have no intention of going to the cinema to see it, I will always value the Harry Potter series for what it meant to me.
It allowed me to use my fantasy and to secretly believe an adventurous life full of magic was waiting me.
It was the source of tons of fun schoolyard games and amazing birthday parties.
Overall, it was something that made me really happy. And I think that in itself is kind of magical.