A midnight rendezvous with Harry Potter


Melissa Stagnaro

It’s not often I stay up past 10 these days, let alone into the wee hours of the morn. Particularly on a so-called “school” night. It has to be something pretty darn special to tempt me away from the sirens call of a cozy night’s sleep.

Something like, say, the midnight premier of the next-to-last installment of one of my favorite movie franchises of all time. I mean of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, part 1; the “beginning of the end” of the series of movies based on the international best-selling books by British author J.K. Rowlings.

You’ve already heard me blather on (and blog) about my love for all things Harry Potter-related. As soon as I heard our little hometown movie theater – The Colonia in Norwich – would be having a midnight showing of the seventh film, there was no doubt in my mind where I’d be at 12:01 on the appointed day.

I was determined to go, even if I had to go solo. But luckily it didn’t come to that, however. My friend Maureen (a.k.a. the cat lady) graciously agreed to accompany me. She gets extra friendship credits for agreeing to spend that much quality time in a theater teeming with rowdy teenage Harry Potter fans.

We met at The Stadium a couple of hours before show time, in order to fortify ourselves on the establishment’s fabulous wings and copious amounts of coffee before heading to Norwich. As we munched our way through our meal (which represented two of the most important food groups: deep fried and caffeinated), we speculated about what kind of line there’d be at the theater. I know I was picturing a throng of people stretching around the block,  heavy on Hogwarts-themed attire. I packed the camera in my car in preparation for just such an experience.

I was a little disappointed, actually, that there wasn’t a line when we arrived at approximately 11:45. Although it was a blessing really, since the temperature was already plummeting and suspect precipitation was in the air.

Not that there wasn’t a crowd, mind you. Attendance was on par with the Friday opening of any popular movie. (I’m sure they’ll be packing them in over the next couple of weeks as well.)

I did spot a scarf in Gryffindor’s signature burgundy and gold, too. But there was a complete dearth of wizard cloaks, which I found strangely disappointing.

Mo and I were definitely outnumbered by teenagers about a zillion to one. And I’d be lying if it didn’t make me feel a little old. There was one particular moment, when the previews were rolling and they were all still chattering away, where I had to resist an overwhelming urge to shush them. Thankfully, I was saved from having to turn into my mother by a particularly astute teen who took action all on her own. She earned my undying respect when she took her peers to task.

Once the movie itself started, we didn’t have to worry about the Chatty Cathies in the audience, though. Everyone was rapt with attention. It was just that good. Don’t worry, I won’t spoil it for any of you. Suffice it to say it was chock full of all the things movie-goers love: Suspense, drama, intrigue, action, and emotion, with a bit of levity mixed in for good measure. And of course all of the characters we love (Harry, Hermione, Ron and the albeit dwindling members of the Order of the Phoenix) and love to hate (Voldemort, the Death Eaters and Ministry of Magic drones).

How closely did it follow the book? That I couldn’t tell you, because I never did re-read the final tome as I’d planned. In fact, it’s the only one of the 7 Harry Potter books I haven’t read at least twice. From what I do remember, however, I’d say Warner Brothers did an excellent job. Because there were parts of the first half of the book which kind of dragged. That wasn’t the case with the movie.

It was nothing less than stellar – perhaps the best installment in the series so far. This is the point where, if I was a film critic, I’d give it an enthusiastic 5 stars or high five or something. Because, truly, I cannot wait to see it again. And you can bet I’m already counting down the days to the release of the final movie next summer.

It was well on its way to 3 a.m. when we finally left the theater, and I still had a drive home ahead of me. The temperature was still on the decline and a wintery mix of snow and rain had started to fall. By the time I got to Oxford, it was snowing in earnest. In Tyner, there were already a couple of inches on the ground. It was your classic winter wonderland, with snow dusting the trees like so much powdered sugar.

Winter had finally, arrived, I thought to myself as I took a moment to take it all in.

But then another thought crossed my mind. Maybe it was hell freezing over! How else can you explain my willingness to give up the lions share of my nightly sleep allotment, with such enthusiasm. I mean, here I am, functioning on little more than 2 hours of sleep. And I’m not all bent out of shape about it.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s magic.

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