Potterpalooza on Tor.com

Live from Times Square: The Final Potter Film

So I’m sitting in the Tor.com offices… with my wand. And a Gryffindor scarf. And the Marauder’s Map. I’m sure you can guess why.

Midnight, as they’ve told us, is when it all ends.

I did not subject my co-workers to wizard robes, but I have gone to Star Wars midnight showings dressed as a Jedi in the past, so they should count themselves lucky. With that in mind, I thought it might be fun to do a little live blogging (if the internet deities permit) leading up to and following the show. Because those first screenings are where the real magic is, in my humble opinion. Sure, if you wait it out a month or two you might get a theater to yourself, but you’re missing out on that unique give and take that comes from sitting in a theater full of true fans.

Also, when I went to see Part I at midnight last year, Yoda and Darth Vader showed up. You just never know what you’re going to get. So keep an eye on this space around 11 PM tonight—there’s more to come! (Including, hopefully a rundown of The Dark Knight Rises teaser afterwards…)

Update—Friday Morning, 9am: Well, obviously that didn’t work out. The internet was sadly not my friend last night, which was extremely distressing because there was so much to share. I arrived at 11pm, which turned out to be about as late as you could show up to get a decent seat.

By decent I mean second row. (Guess it’s good that I prefer to be up closer?)

On the way up the escalators, Hogwarts colors winked from every corner. Nearly everyone had some sort of tribute, even if they weren’t in full dress; a wand, a scar drawn on their forehead with marker, couples wearing opposing red and green t-shirts, and gold and silver scarves. There were also a fair share of house elves, one memorable individual clearly going more for the “dead Dobby” motif, as she was covered in bloody gashes… I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether or not that breaches your good taste barrier.

(My co-worker has informed me that at the 34th street theater, there was a Voldemort, Harry and Snape who were BFFs. Yes.)

About five minutes before start time fans started riling the crowd themselves, calling for chants—”When I say Harry, you say Potter!” Lots of laughter all around, and a scolding from the theater attendents followed. I saw some manager-suit types and figured they were the ones worried about it getting out of hand. Because, you know, Harry Potter fans are definitely a dangerous bunch. We know Unforgivable Curses.

The trailers were fun, though not particularly memorable when you are as revved up as that audience was. There was indeed a Dark Knight Rises teaser, and tease it did. I’m not quite sure what it was getting at, but it’s still pretty darned exciting.

I have to say, the respect of the audience in my theater was impressive. Sometimes you end up in a crowd that woops and hollers at every character who appears, every action cue, every line they like. But the solemnity that ended Deathly Hallows, Part I settled on everyone the moment the lights dimmed down. When the first scene began and the title faded onto screen, there was silence. Almost as though we were paying our respects to the end.

I will leave the review to Danny Bowes, who has already done a fantastic job rewatching the entire series. Safe to say there was a lot of quiet sobbing, a lot of adrenaline, and huge crowds gathered outside of the theaters chattering away once it was over. Several fans had clearly dyed their hair red for the occasion, one girl wearing a tag affixed to her street clothes:

My Name Is
Ginny Weasley

A superbly costumed Professor Lupin and Professor Trelawney walked away hand in hand. Wizard duels continued on the sidewalks. Some looked calm and thoughtful, clearly taking time to let it sink in, others were talking over every detail carefully with friends.

And on the way over to the next avenue to hail a cab, I happened across a three-person Hogwarts Express, chugging slowly down the street. With their boxcars of painted cardboard and a real chimney that blew dry-ice smoke, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate send off.

As for me? I expected to feel that nail in the coffin hit me hard, the moment where it all ended in my mind. But… it doesn’t really feel over. Perhaps that is the nature of something so pervasive in modern culture. Harry is not destined to go out on a great big fanfare. He will linger in the corner of bookshops and funny little websites and children’s costume boxes, a perfect expression of a time and a place and the people who lived in his story.

In that way, it will never be finished. Your acceptance letter to Hogwarts will be perpetually trapped mid-flight.

Emmet Asher-Perrin is catching a ride on the Hogwarts Express. Every day.


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