Tuesday 22nd Sept 2015
We sent The Pottermore Correspondent to meet fans at the opening night of the Harry Potter September Screenings, held at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. By all accounts, it was an emotional night...
I cried within the first eight minutes of being at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
A full house of Potter fans had just crowded into a dark, empty room for safety instructions. Most of them fully grown adults like me: four freckled girlfriends to my left, who’d travelled from Glasgow for the day. Nine couples on dates. Two young men with beards and backpacks commonly known as ‘hipsters’. An Italian family with three adult children here for their third time. As well as a cavalcade of others.
It was just lovely, to see that many grown-ups still so enchanted by J.K. Rowling’s characters. That’s why I cried – because love for Harry Potter is like a religion to me, and this place is sacred ground. It was special and I am not at all ashamed that a salty little waterfall of emotion made my cheeks wet before we even got to the Mirror of Erised part.
Once we got to the Great Hall, yelled ‘woohoo’ when our Hogwarts house was called and wondered whether Snape’s costume still smells like Alan Rickman, it was time for me to meet some fans. The Harry Potter films are brilliant, obviously. But my favourite thing about anything this popular is how happy it makes people.
Firstly I ambled up to two delightful Welsh 21-year-olds called Sorelle and Mike. They were canoodling over by the Hufflepuff dining table, so I asked Sorelle whether she’d choose Cedric Diggory over her boyfriend, if the opportunity arose.
KIDDING. I didn’t do that at all. They were so smitten with each other, they wouldn’t have even noticed if Nearly Headless Nick had casually wafted by singing ‘God Save The Queen’. See, look at their gorgeous smiling faces. This is what Harry Potter fans in love look like.
Sorelle and Mike were celebrating their first anniversary. She lovingly revealed that Mike is the more devoted Harry Potter fan – and I’d say that’s true, considering his 60-something-year-old mother (Hi Lisa!) crochets Harry Potter gifts for her pen pals in Portugal and Spain. Their entire house, according to Mike, is littered with Harry Potter paraphernalia and lined with posters.
‘Let’s just say none of the books in our family have covers or spines anymore,’ he says. ‘And the DVDs are all horribly scratched because we’ve watched them so many times. I reckon, between us, we must have read them and seen them at least 50 times.’
‘I talk to Mike’s mum about Harry Potter all the time when I’m around,’ says Sorelle, and I immediately picture them all living in the Weasley home. ‘It’s one of the things we’ve bonded over.’
And that’s cute. But despite my dearest hopes and dreams, Mike and Sorelle did not get together because of a Harry Potter pick-up line. They didn’t even lock eyes for the first time at a screening of the Deathly Hallows Part 2. They just met at university and didn’t discover they both loved Harry Potter till later. Sigh.
Let’s meet two of the most fashionable Harry Potter fans in sight. Kerri-Anne and Sheena look so lovely, it seems almost rude not to take their photograph and put it on the internet.
‘I think we’re the biggest Harry Potter fans,’ says Kerri-Anne. ‘Not us specifically, I mean young people, young women. We grew up with the stories, and we’re not ready to let them go yet.’
Kerri-Anne is 29, Sheena is 25 and I’m standing next to them beaming and 27, so it looks like she’s absolutely right. We’re all emotionally invested in the characters we fell in love with growing up. And awesome enough to be at the Harry Potter screenings on a Saturday night.
The girls scurry off to do the tour, and I’m left thinking two things:
1. Maybe I need to buy a hat. A cream felt hat with a brown strap.
2. Aha! Just spotted another couple definitely on a date. Maybe they met at a Butterbeer brewing class.
Alas. Caryl, 26, and Josh, 27, did not meet at a Butterbeer brewing class. They met in extremely Muggle-ish circumstances three years ago, and Josh is still pretending not to be a Harry Potter fan. He claims not to have read all the books or seen all the movies, in much the same way I will try and claim I didn’t cry during the safety announcement part of this tour.
When I ask Caryl if she’d really go out with someone who didn’t love Harry Potter, she laughs, looks at Josh and gives me a look that says, ‘Please. Never.’
I’m on to you Josh. He probably has a Deathly Hallows tattoo somewhere not visible to the general public. Anyway, Caryl and Josh are here for her birthday. They don’t find it weird at all when I suggest they pretend to be on a date at the Great Hall dining table (but please don’t touch anything because they’re precious props from the movies).
This is their most convincing shot.
Next these six people, and well over a hundred more, sit in the dark together and watch Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It’s more magical than I can tell you without crying again. It’s a cinema full of die-hard Harry Potter fans watching one of their favourite movies in the studio where it was filmed.
We all laughed like it was for the first time when Hagrid gave Harry his squished ‘Hapee Birthdae’ cake, gasped when Ron got knocked off his chess piece on their way to get the Philosopher’s Stone, and nodded along approvingly every time Hermione did something awesome. Nobody minded when people said lines out loud along with the characters or when someone rustled their bag of sweets.
It was powerfully lovely and I give it five Chocolate Frogs out of five.