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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sean Kelly

The Harry Potter Film Series: An Achievement Like No Other

This weekend, after nearly ten years, the Harry Potter series comes to an end with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 2.  If you think about it, the fact that they were able to finish the film series, with the bulk of the cast intact no less, is a huge achievement that will probably never again to duplicated in the world of cinema.

I can remember back when Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone in the US) was released back in 2001.  I was 19 at the time and, even though I was familiar with the book series, I wasn't that interested in reading the books (though my younger brother, who was 10 at the time, was a huge fan).

Needless to say, I went to see the first film with my brother and quite enjoyed it (though he was quite quick to point out the differences from the book).  I still think that the first film was the most complete film of the series, which can easily be watched as a standalone film.  The later films started to get more serialized and were better seen as part of the series.

Back in 2001, only four of the planned seven books were released.  These four books were guaranteed to get film adaptations, while the, still to be released, books were a maybe.  Because of the fact that they hired age-appropriate actors for the role, I was absolutely sure that the whole series could not be made while the actors were still the right age.

That thought is still partly true since, with all the main actors now in their early twenties, they are now about three or four years older than their characters in the film.  However, it's amazing that they kept not only the main three actors, but also the huge supporting cast.  With the exception of the character of Dumbledore, who had to be recast with Michael Gambon in the third film, after the death of Richard Harris, pretty much all the notable characters are still played by the same actors that played them in 2001.  Even with the Dumbledore recasting, it happened early enough in the series that I quickly got used to Gambon in the role.

I cannot think of any other film series that have reached eight films with the cast intact.  The closest I can think of are the Star Trek and James Bond films.  However, Star Trek switched the Next Generation cast in the seventh film and the James Bond series has always had a rotating cast (with the longest Bond actor being Roger Moore with seven films).

It will definitely be sad to see the Harry Potter series go, as I have always been looking forward to the release of each film in the series.  As shown by the failure to start adaptations of other children book series (Golden Compass comes to mind), the huge success of the Harry Potter film series in an achievement that will probably never again be matched.

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).