‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’ aired on New Year’s Day on HBO and Sky providing Potter fans with a heap of long-awaited nostalgia. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of The Philosophers Stone, the show saw the original cast reminiscing on their time filming, in conversation with one another.
Offering an insight into the emotional journey of the young actors, from crushes to fears of fame, the reunion brought a brilliantly poignant trip down memory lane (and Diagon Alley).
Set in the wonderfully magical Leavesden studios, we were transported back into the fantastical world, following the cast around Platform 9 3/4, the Gryffindor Common Room, the majestic Gringotts Bank, and many more of the stunning sets from the films.
The thoughtful memories shared by the cast and directors, set in the all-too-familiar classrooms and buildings, with the lighting style of the films used, made it feel as though no time had passed at all since the films’ release – only yesterday were we celebrating the premiere of The Deathly Hallows.
From stunning shots of Daniel (Harry Potter), Rupert (Ron Weasley), and Emma (Hermione Granger) in conversation, to talks with the four directors throughout the films, the wonderful chronology that accompanied the two-hour-long special provided a truly nostalgic behind-the-scenes look at the wizarding world.
Chatting with the director of The Philosophers Stone and The Chamber of Secrets, Chris Columbus shared some fond memories with Daniel Radcliffe, alongside some unseen footage of the young cast, including their first screen test.
Alfonso Cuarón, director of The Prisoner of Azkaban, spoke of his more relaxed directing style, as the cast moved from robes and ties to hoodies and jeans.
Finally speaking to David Yates, director of the last four films, Radcliffe and Yates discuss the darkness of the concluding films, both in their colour and plot, and the creation of such a tremendously monumental finish to the series.
In a beautifully touching moment between Emma and Rupert by the common room fireplace, the actors talked of their struggles throughout filming, most notably their thoughts about leaving the films due to the pressures brought on by the fame.
‘We were strong for each other’, noted Watson, as the bond between the co-stars remains undeniably strong, regardless of the ten years passed since the filming of the last Harry Potter. Beautifully, Grint admitted his love for Watson, as she was taken aback by such honesty and emotion, admitting since in an interview with Vogue that she was stunned at such a raw display from her co-star, who usually puts on a brave face.
Profound insights into the thoughts, experiences and memories of the cast adorned the programme, as well as a memorial for all the actors who have sadly passed away since filming ended. Tributes to Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy), Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore), and Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley) were most notable, as many more names were sadly remembered during the show.
A fan-favourite moment was Robbie Coltrane’s (Rubeus Hagrid) incredibly emotional reflection on his character and the legacy of the films as he admitted, in 50 years’ time ‘I won’t be here, sadly… but Hagrid will’. Coltrane highlighted the bittersweet longevity of the series and its ability to be passed down to younger generations.
For long-time fans, the transcendence of the Potter series through its 20 years of release could not be more apparent. In light of the programmes’ release, I was inspired to rewatch Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
Part 2 to nurture my nostalgia and immerse myself in the wizarding world once more.
Watching the conclusion of the epic franchise following the release of the reunion truly solidifies my unwavering love for the universe, after all this time. Indeed, in the words of J.K Rowling herself, ‘Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home’.
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