I have to start off by saying that I did not realize that “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” was a series of interviews, as opposed to a short film/something along those lines. However, that did not take away from the magic of the experience of watching the reunion.
Harry Potter was huge when I was growing up; every Halloween there were dozens of Harrys, Rons and Hermionies running around. In my school’s library, there was only one copy of each of the books, and the line to check them out was always long. It really was our childhood, though I have to admit that I myself was not a “potter-head” by any means, but these are movies that are very hard not to enjoy. (No, I have not read the books, they are on my ever-growing “to read” shelf though).
To me, what made the union magical was the cast appeared to really enjoy making the movies as much as the audience enjoyed the movies themselves. I don’t know if it’s just me, but sometimes I watch a show/movie, really enjoy it, and then I find out that the cast doesn’t really get along and for some reason, that really sours the experience for me. I guess it is just very nice to know that Harry Potter was magical all around.
Before I go into the special itself, can we just take a moment to internalize that the first movie, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” came out 20 years ago. I was a little over a year old when the first movie came out, and here we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of it coming out. Ugh, when movies remind you of your age.
Onto the special itself: it was split into four chapters, based on distinct “eras” in the series. In the first chapter, the cast discussed the first two movies, when they were still children and how it was like getting started and auditioning. The remaining chapters discussed the other steps of the franchise. Throughout, they revealed stories from their time on set, some previously heard, others not so much.
My favorite part was definitely the casts’ reflection on how they grew up on set (they were basically filming a movie a year for a decade), and how their relationships changed with those around them. It was truly heartwarming to see the cast together and how much love there was between everyone working on the films. There were definitely some parts that made me tear up. It was also crazy to see how much the main trio grew up and changed from the time they were 11 (I know they age just like everyone else, but).
However, not everything was always happy on the Harry Potter set; the cast discussed their struggles throughout the shoots as well. A noticeable theme was that a lot of the younger actors oftentimes found themselves feeling lonely and definitely did not have a “normal” childhood. The other touching part were the tributes paid to cast-members that passed, such as Alan Rickman, who played Snape, among others.
Noticeably absent were Maggie Smith, who played Minerva McGonn and Julie Walters, who played Molly Weasley. Although there were others absent from the reunion (many commented on the man from Twilight that was in one movie), but to me, those were characters that I missed. The Weasley family is not the same without Molly, and her absence was clearly felt in their scene together.
Although this was more of a behind the scenes and 10 years later, the reunion had the same magic as the movies. If you are looking for a way (other than the eight movies) to get back into the Harry Potter world, I would definitely recommend watching “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts.” I will definitely have the urge to rewatch the movies now.