We all love Harry Potter - but to what level of commitment?
That was a question I was about to put to the test in a manner I wasn't entirely sure I'd survive - marathoning each of the eight installments of the Harry Potter franchise over the course of one night and one day. For the mathematicians in the house, that's a straight 19 hours and 39 minutes of magical goodness; which turned slowly into 22 hours with breaks, because I am human and my eyeballs are the weakest of my organs.
So, to celebrate 2016's host of Harry Potter celebrations: from the 15th anniversary of the release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher' Stone, the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the return of the entire franchise to cinemas - I attempted the improbable and overdosed on the Wizarding World in true style. Here follows my account of the proceedings.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
4.35PM– And so it begins. I'm already humming the theme music. Dumbledore (Richard Harris-style) is dropping off little baby Harry at Privet Drive, with McGonagall transfiguring out of her cat disguise into human form. Which probably would have been some kind of mind-blowing special effect at the time, but we're low-key going to get dragons in about three films so I'm trying to conserve my awe for now.
4:52PM - “You're a wizard, Harry.” And with that, a thousand childhoods instantly made and ruined; in the knowledge that we'd never hear those words, even though they were the only thing we desired in our young, feeble lives.
5.04PM – Harry is choosing a wand. He gets one with a phoenix feather inside, which is very cool but makes me think there must be a lot of insecurity in the Wizarding World. Think about it, you're constantly having things chosen for you – your wand, your house, your patronus etc. What if you end up a Hufflepuff with a toad patronus and a wand with some kind of stink-root in it? How do you live with yourself then?
5.11PM – Only Hollywood could make King's Cross station look like some exciting, wondrous place and not a hellfire of sweat, rage, day-old vomit, and delays.
5.14PM – What is up with Hermione in this first film? Sure, she evens out and turns feminist icon by the end of the series; but she's kind of abhorrent to everyone here, especially Ron. Which kind of makes me think she's one of those psychopath gene people; meaning she'll either end up owning a billion dollar company or murdering Ron and stuffing him in a car trunk.
6.02PM – Malfoy just got detention from McGonagall because he snuck out of bed to tell on Harry & friends. I love that Hogwarts works on prison rules. Snitches get stitches.
6.58 PM – The Philosopher's Stone has finally been uncovered and Professor Quirrell's been turned to ash; meaning Harry's killed in cold blood for the first time. Excellent! It's one film down and I'm feeling magical in every fibre of my being. What an absolute, sugary sweet delight Philosopher's Stone is; the kind that relishes in the airy joy of being a true children's classic. But let's move on – I've already eaten half the snacks I bought but, hey, I'm feeling good.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
7.15PM – The kids age super quickly between these first two films. It's abrupt, and almost kind of terrifying. Like, who is this old man Potter? Where did that tiny, squeaky-voiced boy go? Is this really how unforgiving and brutal the ravages of time are? Is there hope for any of us?
7.16PM – But, Dobby! He's here now, so all is good and nothing hurts. He's smashing his head into a chest of drawers. Now he's smacking himself in the face with a lamp. I relate to Dobby a lot.
7.31PM – Not only does Chamber of Secrets introduce all-time legend Dobby into the game, but it also features maybe my favourite character of all – work with me on this – Gilderoy Lockhart. He's spectacular. None of the women in this film can handle the luscious curled bangs of Kenneth Branagh. It's like looking straight into the sun.
8.48PM - “They can't cancel Quidditch!” Hermione just got petrified, but it's good that Oliver Wood's keeping his priorities straight. Dude's got to be unbearable off the Quidditch pitch; like guys who keep talking about their gains at the gym, Oliver loves to corner girls at parties and tell them about how many bludgers he took down in his last match.
8.57PM – Right, it's time for the terrifying monster spider to turn up, which is the perfect cue for me to leave and make my first cup of coffee for the evening; because, when I do eventually sleep, I would like that sleep to be largely nightmare-free. If I ever get to that point. Also, what is up with Aragog setting all his spider babies after Harry and Ron when the only reason they were there in the first place was to help Aragog's supposed buddy Hagrid? Burn your friendship bracelet, Hagrid.
9.03PM – Nope. Just walked in again and the forest is entirely a blanket of giant spiders and they're crawling over everything. Nope.
9.08PM – Ginny's been taken by the basilisk – time to step in and save the day, Gilderoy Lockhart! Now is the hour of need! Or just go back into your office, that is also fine. Or just betray Harry and then completely backfire your spell so you knock yourself unconscious and lose all your memories, it's all good.
9.20PM – Oh, come on Tom Riddle; your glorious, floppy bangs don't fool me. We all know the true lesson of The Chamber of Secrets and that is don't trust people with really great hair. That's why everyone in Slytherin looks like they just stepped out of Toni&Guy – ibecause their hair was tainted by the devil's curler.
9.33PM – Harry may have defeated Riddle, but he's now afraid his gift for Parseltongue, amongst others things, means he's been tainted by his enemy and was in fact always destined to be a Slytherin. Personally, I don't know what he's so worried about because his hair is average at best.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
10.03PM – We're officially entering Potter puberty now. You can tell because the Warner Bros. Logo is all dark and moody. Plus, Harry's experimenting with his wand under the duvet.
10.15PM - Alfonso Cuarón directs here so everything gets kind of freaky, kind of fast. We're quickly introduced to the (genuinely frightening) Dementors. My sincere congratulations to every Hogwarts student who didn't take one look at those soul-sucking skeleton ghosts and hightail it straight back home.
10.31PM – Michael Gambon has entered as the new Dumbledore. Followed swiftly by Emma Thompson, as the producers of Harry Potter stalk up and down the hallways of BAFTA, dragging out every Brit actor they can find by the collar. I'm thankful, though, since one of the best things about the entire series has always been watching these legendary actors hang loose and have the time of their lives on-screen.
10.47PM – Lupin has always been a fan-favourite for good reason. He's maybe the most chill individual in the entire Wizarding World, and someone I would just feel really comfortable getting a beer with. You can tell he's really chill because he always wears a lot of cardigans.
11.44PM – Gary Oldman is yelling a lot. It's just a master-class of yelling, this performance.
11.55PM – The design of werewolf Lupin in this movie is magnificent. Like many fans, Azkaban is my favourite of the series, precisely because of this kind of visionary stuff - so good job, Cuarón. Plus, I feel sane and awake enough right now to actually appreciate it.
12.01AM – I am not, however sane or awake enough to really get my head around the paradoxical logic of the time-turner; specifically whether Buckbeak actually died the first time around we see events or whether events had already been altered and he was saved, meaning Harry and Hermione's actions with the time-turner were always destined to work? J.K. Rowling, help me.
12.24AM – And so ends the Azkaban adventure, a marker of the major tone shift for the series from wide-eyed children's classic into the eventual fantasy epic we get by its close.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
12.37AM – Look, here's David Tennant here to welcome us into the next chapter. He's dressed like a Goth ticket scalper.
12.42AM – Harry is bizarrely dumbfounded by the Weasleys' Tardis-style tent at the Quidditch World Cup. He's just spent three movies battling giant snakes, spiders, and werewolves; but, my god, this extra floor space is EVERYTHING.
12.59AM – New year, new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. Just make this an online course already, will you? That said, I do like Mad Eye Moody's methods of yelling facts into students' faces, then traumatising insects.
01.13AM – Ah, we reach the great mystery of the Harry Potter movies. What on earth is the dashing/successful/popular Cedric Diggory doing in Hufflepuff? Did he crap his pants during the sorting hat ceremony or something? What happened there?
01.17AM – Poor Harry's being forced to compete in the Tri-Wizard Cup even though he's underage and didn't submit his name to the Goblet. It's just like when you walk into a room at a house party looking for your phone and next thing you know you've lost a drinking game and someone's trying to pour anonymous fluids down your throat.
02.01AM - “I think I'd rather take the dragon.” Poor Harry time continues as he struggles to find a date for the Yuletide Ball. Oh, he may be the Chosen One, but he still gets rejected by Cho Chang will standing in a tower surrounded by owl crap, because the dude couldn't get his act together and ask her earlier.
03.08AM – So, Voldemort's back and Cedric is dead. RIP Cedric – time to move on to your next life as a sparkling vampire babe. Cedric's probably the first hardcore death of the series, too. No one's taking it well, but I kind of wish I could just gently touch them all on the shoulder and be, like, “buddy, it's about to get a whole bunch worse.”
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
03.38AM – I've officially passed the halfway point. My sanity is somewhat intact, though words and actions are starting to blur into one magical fever. Harry is sitting on a swing and staring into nothingness and that sort of sums up how I feel right now. Dudley's transformed into some silver chain-wearing thug. We're in deep teenagerdom now.
04.14AM – Dolores Umbridge's Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson plans being theoretically-based rather than practically-based - when all the students know it won't prepare them for facing Voldemort - feels like a very, very sick burn against the current education system. Nice one, J.K. On the other hand, those are some really nice decorative kitten plates. I'd definitely take backhanded bribes from Voldemort for a set of those bad boys.
04.35AM – The most essential part of forming Dumbledore's Army is getting everyone to queue up and put their names down on a sign-up sheet. That's how all great rebellions were formed – remember the sign-up sheet they tacked to the front of the Bastille?
05.15AM – This scene where they interrupt Umbridge's exam session with a bunch of fireworks is every student's dream, isn't it? I feel like Pink Floyd needs to be playing right now. All followed by some sweet, centaur-flavoured justice for Umbridge; even though we know all this celebration will be short-lived because this is latter-day Potter and somebody's about to die.
05.34AM – And, there we go. RIP Sirius. There's a lot of slow-motion crying. Harry's having a moral crisis over whether to revenge murder Bellatrix Lestrange; which I'm half onboard for because – how dare she – half against because Helena Bonham Carter is a very cool lady.
05.44AM - “You'll never know love or friendship. And I feel sorry for you.” Turns out, Voldemort's just as insecure as the rest of us; which is almost a comforting thought. Oh man, remember when our biggest problem was living in a cupboard? I miss those days. But we've got friendship; sweet, restorative friendship pouring out of our ear-holes. And thus ends Order of the Phoenix – with the idea that everything's going to be fine, because friendship.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
06.03AM– The Warner Bros. logo is so dark now it's like Batman designed it. We're truly through the rabbit hole now and, yes, lack of sleep is 100% making me more emotionally distraught about this than I should be. I'm getting to the point where I can't separate the stakes in my own life – running out snacks, drinking so much coffee my heart explodes – and the stakes of the film, like Voldemort plunging the Wizard World into an age of darkness and everyone getting murdered by Death Eaters.
06.24AM – Snape is in SO deep right now with Voldemort's crew; it's stakes on stakes on stakes on stakes, and I feel like I'm going mad with the level of investment I have with what's going on right now. It is sort of great, however, that pretty much all you need to do to infiltrate the Death Eaters is wear a lot black. Look like you fell out of a Hot Topic and I guess everyone just assumes you're evil.
06.44AM – Hermione's talking about this super powerful love potion that's giving off an irresistible smell, but I'm pretty sure she just described Lynx aftershave. Am I right? Where's my sponsorship deal?
06.57AM – Let us pause the horror for a brief intermission of teen antics. Hey, remember Quidditch? When it was a fun sport to play before all the murder started? Or going to the pub to get a Butterbeer with your pals? Or describing the respective quality of your crushes' skin with your best pal, as Ron and Harry are doing in this painfully awkward example of teenage dude chat? WHY IS BEING A TEENAGER SO WEIRD?
08.08AM – Harry and Malfoy are duking it out in a bathroom. Why does so much of the action in Harry Potter happen in bathrooms? That's maybe the least magical place you could find in this largely magical castle. Anyway, Malfoy is grievously injured because Harry utilised one of the spells he found in the Half-Blood Prince's book and everyone's mad about it; even though Malfoy and his dad are clearly Death Eaters, and why is Malfoy even allowed to attend this school at this point in time?
08.45AM – Everything just got very quiet. And... DUMBLEDORE IS DEAD. Slow motion. Regretful Snape. Tears, endless tears. Bellatrix is jazzed. Everything is sepia now. It's just going to be a constant stream of death from now onwards; which worries me, because my soul has been weakened from sleep deprivation and I'm starting to worry I won't make it.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1
09.19AM – The final stretch. Usually, I'm glad the Deathly Hallows is split up into two films because that means more Harry Potter; but right now I'm kind of horrified. What if Harry Potter just keeps going and going and going and I'll have to watch him raise his kids and pay his mortgage? Hermione just obliviated her own dentist parents. Harry's waving goodbye to his little cupboard house. Look how far we've come; it's like life in that cupboard is now but a sweet, distant memory of child abuse.
09.30AM – Where the hell did Domhnall Gleeson come from? Was this some weird sort of father/son duty he had to carry out for Brendan? Did the Harry Potter producers only just notice he had red hair and told him, sorry, you're playing a Weasley now? And you're married to this French chick. Don't ask how or why.
10.21AM – They've escaped the wedding attack and headed straight to Sirius Black's old haunt, Grimmauld Place. No one else is there because everyone is dead. There is only a very angry house elf left, who is a strong contrast to Dobby because he is neither adorable, nor does he smash himself in the face with lamps. Speaking of, Dobby's returned. Yay, Dobby! Let's not think about the fact he's only turned up, after being absent for half the franchise, so that he can die and make everyone cry.
10.41AM – I just had to Google whether Martin Freeman was in any of these films, because it feels like he should be and I've been waiting around 18 hours for him to turn up and it's not happened. Turns out he is not in any of these films. This Google session also marks the beginning of a long section of this film in which Harry and Hermione wander around the woods with various levels of angst.
11.16AM – The locket Horcrux is trying to murder Harry in an ice lake, which begs the question: why do people always wear cursed objects around their necks? These kids are having exactly the same problem as Frodo Baggins; just because there's a chain, doesn't meant you have to wear it. Just put it in your pocket or something.
11.43AM – Dobby to the rescue! Dobby is so bad ass. I love him and I'm not prepared for what's about to happen. Bellatrix is yelling a lot, as usual. Who is the better yeller – Sirius or Bellatrix?
11.47AM – OH GOD, DOBBY. NO, DOBBY Why is this so unnecessarily cruel, J.K. Rowling? He was just a little house elf. He had his one moment to shine and then you straight up murdered him in cold blood. The distant look in his eye – why is this death so emotional? He looks like Gollum banged ET banged a bunch of ear wax; yet, still, this is the worst and most tragic thing to have happened in the entire Harry Potter universe.
Who will stop these tears from cascading down my eyes – it burns. Burns with the rage of injustice placed upon this sweet, princely house elf whose taste of freedom was so short but who gave himself up so willingly to sacrifice. Sorry, but that grave they dig him at the top of a hill is not enough. Not enough for Dobby, he deserves a viking funeral. He deserves fire and tears and sad chanting. YOU WILL BE AVENGED DOBBY, I PROMISE YOU THIS!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2
12.08PM– The home stretch. The final frontier. I feel strange and emotional – my reality has broken down. I am Potter and I am not Potter. This deeply eerie opening isn't helping - with all these Dementors flying around Hogwarts and Snape standing there like – ho, ho what's my motivation? You'll soon find out. I am still sad about Dobby.
12.19PM – Helena Bonham Carter's performance as Emma Watson playing Helena Bonham Carter is fabulous. Although, it's really strange that no one in Gringotts is catching on that this isn't actually Bellatrix, but Hermione Polyjuiced as Bellatrix - I mean, she's doing zero yelling. Not convincing at all.
12.53PM – There's time to squeeze in one more Brit actor before we wrap up, so here's Kelly Macdonald as Helena Ravenclaw's ghost. She is mad as balls about her mother's diadem becoming a Horcrux.
1PM – Ron and Hermione are making out because there's nothing sexier than destroying a Horcrux and annihilating a part of somebody's soul. Actually, pretty much everyone's declaring love for each other: Ginny and Harry, Neville and Luna. The scent of death is truly the world's greatest aphrodisiac.
1.43PM – Here comes the RIP locomotive. Again, what are the spiders doing here, fighting for Voldemort? Come on, what's their motivation in this franchise? Traitors. Anyway, Lavender Brown's dead and no one will probably mourn her.
1.46PM - And there goes Severus Snape, murdered so Voldemort can take possession of the Elder Wand. I'm sad, but not as sad as I should be, because Snape's storyline is super complicated and I'm too tired to understand what he's up to in dying right now.
1.51PM – Time for some more RIPs. One of the Weasley twins - I forget which, honestly. Over there, Tonks and Lupin; with their hands sort of touching but not touching, because this movie wants to mess with us as much as possible. Everybody's crying. I'm crying. Someone on the street below my window is probably crying.
2.06PM – Everyone's back as a ghost, though. Which is nice. They're all here to support Harry as he destroys himself, the last Horcrux. It's kind of like coming to your kid's football game, but you're dead and you're here for your kid's death. The afterlife is King's Cross station. There are no trains, but there are never any trains at King's Cross Station anyway. Harry can just mournfully sit on his luggage and eat a cold burrito now, I guess.
2.19PM – All the Death Eaters are laughing at Neville Longbottom; which is awful, but he's also probably used to it by now. Dead Harry isn't dead anymore - he's living his own "surprise bitch, bet you thought you'd seen the last of me" meme before making a runner for it. Voldemort's been turned into wizard confetti. And it's done.
I feel exhausted, hysterical - but also filled to the brim with magic. A feeling of magic so intense that's it's making my toes tingle. Or that could just be the sleep deprivation. For 22-straight hours, though, I have indulged myself in a dream world that's enraptured the globe and I couldn't understand why any better than now. I want to wingardium leviosa my life away. Thank you life, thank you love, thank you Potter.Reuse content