Tonight’s midnight release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 begins the end of our childhood. (Warning: this editorial contains spoilers.)
A majority of UC Davis students were between six and 11 years old when the tale of the boy with a lightning bolt scar was first published. Parents read the first book to us and we stayed up past midnight on July 21, 2007 – when the final book was released – to find out how the saga ended.
We’ve followed Harry Potter and his group of allies, Ron, Hermione, Hagrid, Dumbledore and a slew of others as they dueled the Dark Arts.
We remember when Sirius Black fell into the veil at the Ministry of Magic. We teared up when Snape’s Killing Curse (Avada Kedavra) struck Dumbledore in the chest. We remember when the snake-faced Voldemort was finally vanquished.
No longer can we dress up in Gryffindor scarlet and gold in anticipation of a new film and be considered normal. We will soon be that weird person when we wear our dress robes for the impending Yule Ball.
The Harry Potter series represents our childhood. He aged as we did. Much like every teenager who read the seven novels, Harry experienced losing a crush and had friends he could share anything with.
The first installment of the Potter finale also marks the end of a worldwide phenomenon. The first six films grossed a combined $5.5 billion, the most for any movie franchise. The seven novels comprise the most circulated book series of all time, with an estimated 400 million in circulation.
Harry Potter was so successful because it appealed to the right crowd at the right time in history. Its whimsical tales of friendship and heavy themes of death could appeal to nearly all demographics.
Once Harry’s final Expelliarmus hits He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named at the end of The Deathly Hallows Part 2, we will officially have to grow up. We will have to tuck our brooms away into the cupboard beneath the staircase and stop chasing the Golden Snitch.
Though the series of our youth will officially end, it doesn’t mean we can’t relive it. There are books to be reread, movies to be rewatched and theme parks to be revisited.
When Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, along with the help of the Half-Blood Prince, the Deathly Hallows and the Prisoner of Azkaban defeat the villain who tried to use the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Goblet of Fire to rule the magical world, the story will be over. The legacy, however, of “the boy who lived” will go on forever.