Review: Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts


It is impossible for me to track my journey from a child to an ‘almost-adult’ now without mentioning Harry Potter. This was the first fantasy series that completely captivated me. I remember summers spent waiting patiently for my Hogwarts’ letter, and, of course, countless hours watching the movies. The movies became such an essential part of my life and my personality that I can’t imagine being who I am right now without them. 

As someone who had read the books first and then watched the movies, I was absolutely enthralled seeing Hogwarts and the Wizarding World come to life. The movies did a remarkable job adapting Rowling’s stories and sticking to the source material. From the cast and costumes to the settings and music, they brought all the books to life in vivid detail. Yet, before we go further, it is important to acknowledge that although this franchise has become an invaluable part of so many people’s lives, JK Rowling and her problematic history has influenced her work. It is, therefore, crucial to separate the art from the artist and continue to enjoy the franchise without necessarily supporting Rowling. 

It felt as though I had grown up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione…

As I grew up, Harry Potter movie marathons became an autumn staple and every year as the temperature dipped, I would religiously devote my time to rewatching the movies. Not only was the series escapism at its finest, but it also became a source of comfort for me. It felt as though I had grown up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and whenever I felt lonely or sad, it made sense to turn to them. These movies felt like a warm hug and had a permanent place in my heart. 

When I first heard that the cast was coming together for a reunion back in November, I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was excited to see Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint come together to celebrate 20 years of this franchise. The fact that the reunion special was coming out on New Year’s was an added bonus! I curled up with a mug of hot chocolate, my favourite blanket, and an entire tub of ice cream, ready to lose myself in this nostalgia-filled event. 

The reunion was delivered on all levels. It was touching to watch the cast come back together, interact after years, and hear their love and appreciation for each other. Every single member of the franchise that was present seemed overwhelmed with emotion as they recounted memories tied to this series. Radcliffe, Watson and Grint’s chemistry was a joy to watch. The cast shared various bits of information and anecdotes that added a layer to my own perspective of the movies and made me fall in love with them even more.

The reunion was a bittersweet amalgamation of memories…

One of my favourite moments in the reunion was when Emma Watson and Tom Felton talked about the deep bond they had developed over the years. I also loved the insights provided by each director and their process of turning Hogwarts’ magic into reality. I especially enjoyed Chris Columbus’ recollection of how difficult it was working with so many inexperienced child actors in the first movie. The reunion also featured unseen footage from behind the scenes and it was heart-warming to see the cast having the time of their lives on set. 

The cast also spoke about growing up with the movies and how they dealt with their formative years passing in the public eye. Radcliffe spoke about how Columbus eased the younger actors into the hectic shooting life and how he always treated them with utmost care and diligence. He also shared how acting on set never felt like a chore and was an all-around enjoyable experience. I was moved by Watson’s story of her struggle with fame, and how she contemplated leaving the franchise for a bit. She spoke out on the difficulties of living a life that was broadcasted to millions and the toll it took on her mentally. I was also quite surprised by Grint’s confession of his confusion regarding his own identity after playing Ron Weasley for years. Grint shed light on how Ron’s personality became so ingrained in him that it became difficult for him to separate himself from his character. The reunion was a bittersweet amalgamation of memories as the cast also spent a few minutes remembering the members who weren’t present to be with them. 

This felt like the perfect way of celebrating 20 years of one of the most influential film franchises in pop culture. To watch all my favourite characters and hear them reminisce was a genuine treat. I’m so glad that so many of the cast members took out the time to make it to the reunion and that they shared so much about their time shooting. If you haven’t watched the reunion already, I strongly recommend you do it right away because nothing compares to the nostalgia it will evoke!

Image Credits: Tuyen Vo via Unsplash

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