If there is a renowned film series that is inclusive of the main life themes/skills I focus on in my work, Harry Potter is one which stands out. As with many people I know, this series (books and movies) have been an essential and nostalgic part of our childhoods and adolescence. For one of the most successful film franchises ever, and running from 2001 to 2011 (not including the Fantastic Beasts prequel franchise), I believe that it deserves all recognition as a pioneering, inventive and imaginatively ground-breaking piece of art.
I recall watching the Sydney Symphony Orchestra playing one of the films in the Sydney Opera House with my best friend, and we were truly overwhelmed and joyous, experiencing the music live alongside the true magic of the film. I am highlighting this point, as even just the music itself is recognisable worldwide, and captures viewers from all walks of life.
If there is anything the Philosopher’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows do VERY well, it is taking audiences on an epic journey; not just without, but within. Harry’s character development alone is memorable, and being the principal character, makes his path immersive, relatable and vital. I consistently felt like I grew up with the characters of the Wizarding world, as JK Rowling and the film’s screenwriters truly evoked the deep spectrum of human emotions, means for catharsis, and a reflection on the human condition (Muggle or not). What is extraordinary about this series is how we become so connected to the story; and so much so, that I don’t know of anyone who has seen the series only once in their lives (I for one have seen each film possibly more than 5 times).
Even if I were to simply name characters and their alignment with each of the life skills I work on with my clients, it would simply (but not only) be:
Voldemort aka. He Who Must Not Be Named, the Death Eaters and Dementors seem to signify the shadow sides of humanity (literally called ‘Dark Forces’). Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry and the Ministry of Magic symbolise human systems and bureaucracies that exist and which we all know far too well.
I will never forget Dumbledore’s words to Harry, ‘’It’s our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.’’ Every film presents essential choices that need to be made, as well as Harry finding the courage and integrity within himself; with the support of those close to him, to make these choices.
While it is the least box-office grossing film of them all, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is actually my favourite film (followed by Goblet of Fire), as I find that from this particular film, darkness begins to imbue Harry and his friends’ paths, which creates intrigue, empathy and even anger/despair at certain systems, injustices and events during the film’s course.
I found that each director had their own unique visions for the films, which still flow understandably and cohesively into the next. Pretty much all of the films are critically acclaimed and I believe, rightfully so. All are complex and clever ‘meditations’ on family, friendship, love, trauma, having a higher purpose, and belonging.
Without going into too much of filmic language, all components of the film’s production, including the cinematography, art direction, costume design, score and visual effects are noteworthy and immensely rewatchable.
As JK Rowling posted once on Twitter, ‘’All these people saying they never got their Hogwarts letter, you got the letter. You went to Hogwarts. We were all there together.’’
4.75 stars to Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff & Slytherin! 😉