Harry Potter Movie Marathon: Prepping for the 20th Anniversary

December 30, 2021

Rewatching the Harry Potter movies never occurred to me through the years. Yes, I have reread the books, but never the movies. Thanks to an upcoming 20th anniversary special for the first Harry Potter movie on HBO, I hopped aboard the reminiscing train back to the Sorcerer's Stone up to Hallows Part 2 to refresh myself of the movies. And wow, what a magical experience it was.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
I don't know how many turns of the Time Turner did it, but I definitely found myself being a 12-year-old kid as I watched the first HP film again. It was a deeply nostalgic experience reliving the story. I vividly remember that one day in elementary when we had a film showing. All of us students gathered around a TV that was set up in the library. That's where I first encountered Harry Potter. 

The screen was too small, no subtitles, and I had no context on what the movie was about. I remember during the first parts of the movie, I thought it was already the Sorcerer's stone that Hagrid was giving to Harry. Apparently, it was just the birthday cake inside the box.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
By the second movie I was already a full-pledged Potterhead, as well as my sister. I remember we saw the film at the nearest SM to us at that time (which is now the second nearest). It was released in cinemas during that time wherein there are no seating assignments yet and people are actually allowed to stay inside the cinema for as long as they liked. We arrived late on our target screening time, so it was already several minutes into the film when we arrived. This was a common experience, so we decided to just stay on the next screening so we could catch the parts that we missed in the beginning. Well, we ended up watching the film in its entirety at the next screening. 😅 I remember going home with tired eyes and hungry stomachs, but a heart full of magic. ✨I don't remember the details anymore but for sure we saved months for those movie tickets given our budget, so it was really a very fulfilling experience after months of anticipating the film.

Seeing the movie now, it was very obvious how Daniel's voice got deeper compared to the first film. The basilisk is still as terrifying as I remembered it to be. 💖

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Movie 3 remains to be my favorite up to this day, primarily because of how cheerful the overall mood of the movie (even though the color tone of the movie did change, compared to the first two). The other ingredient that made it extra extra special is that fantastic time-travelling aspect that I believe was translated very well into the movie. My sister and I spent countless hours discussing the movie and the details of storyline (I think both of us have not read the books at that point) and it was such a joy reminiscing those times upon watching the movie today.

This is also the movie that I anticipated the most. I was already neck-deep into the Potter universe and I really anticipated the next movie because I really got to enjoy Chamber of Secrets. I remember just gulping down every marketing material that they released to promote the Azkaban movie. This is also the movie that I saw Daniel Radcliffe in a different way, because he's just growing to be this very handsome teenage boy. I also remember drooling over each page of the K-Zone magazine (which I thought long and hard whether I was buying it or not). I looked through the pages of colored print and absorbed every detail of their Harry Potter special. Those were such great childhood memories.

It's nice to relive the movie and understand the movie more, knowing what we know now of the whole story overall. I loved lurking those Reddit rabbit holes, especially in r/moviedetails, and particularly this one.

Azkaban is the last movie that I watched prior to reading the books. Starting from Goblet to Hallows, I saw the movies already having the storyline context in my mind. I think that's another factor that made this movie my top favorite amongst the Potter movies. Moving forward from here, I just felt disappointed because of how fast-paced the story-telling was in the film, and was always comparing the film adaptation versus the book.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
We weren't able to catch this in the cinemas because we just didn't have the budget for luxuries. It was a tough time for our family, but as kids, I was not that disappointed about it. I think this was one of those experiences that shaped my mindset in terms of money and luxuries. I learned that there are things we need to give up to address the essentials that we need to have to survive.

I think it was my sister who just bought a pirated VCD of the movie. The copy of the movie was not clear and the audio barely audible because it was just recorded in the cinema (remember those times? 😖). Good thing we already bought the book, so we already knew the story anyway (it was my sister who bought one and we took turns reading it, hiding it in our closet because we'll be scolded if our parents found out that we spent our money on a book). On watching that movie, I just focused on how the Triwizard event was depicted in the movies, along with the other scenes. But I didn't feel that much attached during this one, compared to Azkaban.

This is why watching it again now in full HD was such a treat. It was like I was replacing those blurry memories with fresh vivid ones. It really felt so magical. ✨

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Curiously, for this movie and Half-blood Prince, I don't have vivid memories associated with them. I think this was because I had expectations with the movie, and it was not fully met. That's why I left the cinema half-heartedly satisfied. Watching them again now felt like a different experience. Because I was watching the movies back-to-back, it was more evident to see the character development of Harry. I felt his angst. I connected well with his fear and pain, as the memories of Cedric's death and Voldemort's rising fresh from the previous movie.

I forgot that Cho Chang was introduced in this movie and I revisited the fleeting romance she formed with Harry. Casting Cho was a big deal for us last year. Because this is Harry's first ever love interest, we were curious how she would be portrayed on the big screen. I was also able to notice Ginny whenever Cho was there, it was apparent that even in the movie, there were already subtle hints of awkwardness whenever Harry interacted with Cho. I never noticed that before.

I liked all the moments of Sirius in the movie. I saw that Harry felt the safest when he was around his godfather. It was still heartbreaking to see that scene where Sirius dies though. I knew it was coming, but it was still painful, especially seeing Harry's confused and dazed look as he watched Sirius fall into that archway. Apparently, the movie version skipped the detail about the cracked mirror Sirius gave to Harry. I was waiting for it in the end, but it was never shown.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
The movie just continues to grow darker and darker. Teenage hormones are all over the place. I also forgot all about Slughorn's character, and it was a delight seeing his character come to life. I was mildly reminded how Draco had an important mission, and his pain to execute that plan was very obvious to me in the movie, now that I was abstracted with the details of the book. It was heartbreaking to see The Burrow burned down (forgot about that one again).

Of course, this was when Ginny was highlighted as Harry's new love interest. I discovered sometimes it's safe to avoid lurking Reddit, because after reading one comment, I cannot unsee what the shoelace scene is subtly referenced about. 😭

This was also the time we hated Snape the most. But knowing what we know now, I can't help but interpret his expressions in every scene differently from what was on the surface being conveyed to the audience.

I also remember being fairly disappointed with the Astronomy Tower scene, how it was quickly run in the movie. But I felt it was just fine this time around. 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 1)
I was really excited getting into this movie because I had very fond memories watching this one. I believe this is the first and only film that I have watched in an iMax theatre. I remember it was a very festive season. Potterheads all over the world were very hyped about the release because this was the second-to-the-last in the film adaptations. I don't remember anymore how we got tickets. I think it was my sister who arranged to get them. For sure it was very difficult to score tickets to the film, and in iMax too!

It just felt so nostalgic watching this film again. I remember the excitement as the film began. I was already near tears when the scene where Hermione erases the memories of her parents was shown. I had to pause the movie for a few seconds because I was already ugly crying because of... Hedwig. It was painful to see it play before my eyes again. Hearing Mad-eye's death caused some shock for me too. Again, I already forgot he dies in the book. 😢

The whole movie brought me to the edge. The whole two hours were filled with anxiety. The whole wizarding community was in complete chaos, and it was very apparent in the whole movie. You don't feel safe anywhere anymore. You also don't know who to trust. It felt like Murphy's Law was in effect with the trio -- anything that can go wrong will go wrong.

I felt like I was back in the Azkaban movie because we see Hermione doing things that save Harry and Ron. I felt how restless they were when they were traveling and staying in the tent. Every word that Ron said to Harry during their argument felt like a pang because it was true: Dumbledore set them out for a mission to find the horcruxes using almost no information. I think that scene perfectly settled the tone of the movie, of how clueless our heroes were in their goal.

We hear bits of references that overlap with the Fantastic Beasts arc. There's the mention of Grindelwald and the Elder wand. And I just can't wait to rewatch those films again. I'm going down that hole again in the next few days, I guess.

The visit to Godric's Hollow was as dramatic as I remembered it. I felt more connected to that scene  because it happened on Christmas eve, and I was watching the day after Christmas day. 🎄❄️ I distinctly remember one jump scare scene in this movie wherein I gasped for breath for the life of me. It was that scene wherein Nagini suddenly jumps and strikes towards the camera in Harry's POV. It was not as effective as before, maybe because I was watching it in iMax of course, compared to watching it on my PC monitor now, but the flashback of how I felt the first time seeing it somehow came back to me. 😓

I still remember that feeling after the ending credits appeared. It was a major cliffhanger for everyone during that time. We had to wait another year for the second part. Well, now I had the luxury to instantly see the next and final film. 😊💖

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)
This was the finale, so it was expectedly so action-packed right from the beginning. Remember, Hallows Part 1 ended with Voldemort acquiring the Elder wand. That's exactly where Hallows 2 picked up. Snape's great revelation was still so satisfyingly good. I appreciated those few moments of silence, with just Harry staring blankly at a distance, after watching Snape's memories from the Pensieve. It was one of the greatest plot twists in the story, and that moment for sure allowed that information to sink in to the audience, especially for those movie-only fans.

During the Great Battle of Hogwarts, I distinctly remember the cinema audience clapping gleefully in specific scenes, notably the death of Bellatrix and of Nagini (c/o of Neville 👏). I suddenly missed that rush of excitement watching this film with fellow Potterheads in the cinema. I also forgot that Harry actually destroyed the Elder Wand in the end of the movie. At least through that, there won't be any possibilities anymore that the wizarding world will be placed in danger if that powerful wand lands on an evil wizard.

There are some things that got me thinking about the series of events in this movie, as well as in the book: why did Dumbledore not appear as one of the ghosts that appeared and helped Harry? From Harry's parents, to Sirius, and to Remus, they all appeared to help Harry in the final moment. I felt like Dumbledore really raised Harry like a pig for slaughter, precisely what Snape said to Dumbledore in one of those Pensieve memories. Especially when he asked Snape, "Have you grown to care for the boy, after all?"

I will always love these quotes, from the conversation between Harry and Dumbledore, presumably in King's Cross, when Harry was "killed" by Voldemort:

Harry Potter : Is this all real? Or is it just happening inside my head? 

Professor Albus Dumbledore : Of course it's happening inside your head, Harry. Why should that mean that it's not real?

It was such a magical experience reliving the movies that comprised my childhood. I felt so nostalgic, which is just the perfect mood to watch the Return to Hogwarts special next year. I relistened to the movie review episodes of Binge: Harry Potter for added sprinkles of magic. ✨ There's the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy video game, as well as the third movie of the Fantastic Beasts series so I think we still have a lot of HP content to look forward to.

I can't explain this warm fuzzy feeling that I felt watching the movies, and even writing this post. One thing's for sure: Hogwarts is real (it's inside my head!) and it will always be my home. 🪄

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