Midway through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II, when Harry returns to Hogwarts, in short order, Professor McGonagall triumphantly takes back the school and prepares for the battle to end all battles by:
a) ordering Filch to take Slytherin House down to the dungeon
b) telling Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan to confer with one another about how to blow up part of the castle as she recalled Mr. Finnegan being awfully fond of pyrotechnics
c) telling Professor Flitwick to use Voldemort’s real name because he was going to try to kill him anyway
d) calling on the stone warriors to protect the castle
e) And following that up with “I’ve always wanted to use that spell.”
It was awesome, and delightfully badass. Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Michael Lewis and company gave moving performances in the final, emotional installment of my childhood’s pop culture equivalent.But it was gratifying to see talented veterans like Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman get to really do what they do best after a decade of most of their lines beginning with the words “Mr. Potter.”
Emotionally manipulative? Perhaps. But not going to lie, I did tear up a bit.
Since opening weekend I have been thinking a lot about why it mattered so much to me. And from the standpoint of the nine year old whose third grade teacher read a few chapters of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ,” during snack time, it isn’t too hard to figure out. Owls, wizards, faraway places, fantastical names. What was not to like?
But as I got older, it wasn’t just the fact that I was growing up alongside these characters that resonated with me, but that this world grew and flourished from a place of real struggle. J.K. Rowling first conceived of and wrote the story when she was on welfare and at a seriously low point. And the world is a tough place right now.
When Harry asks if his limbo King’s Cross is real in the final pages of “Deathly Hallows,” Dumbledore replies, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real.” Rowling’s personal accomplishment and the universe she created is proof enough that words and ideas will always be our last, best resource.