For many UT students, the release of the final installment of the Harry Potter film series marks the end of an era that began when they were reading their first chapter books in elementary school.
What started as enjoyable reading soon became a worldwide phenomenon. As the series progressed, readers and viewers gleaned life lessons from a magical world that, in many ways, resembles this one. Plan II sophomore Maysie Ocera said growing up with Harry and his friends has been an important part of her life.
“Harry was always our age as we were reading [the novels],” Ocera said. “There’s definitely a feeling like with this last movie, that childhood is actually kind of coming to a close. It’s cheesy to say, but we’re all as grown up as Harry is.”
Ocera said she and six friends will be dressing up as the seven horcruxes of Voldemort’s soul during the midnight premiere of the grand finale.
“What I really hope about Harry Potter is that with the movies maybe kids who didn’t want to read the books before are reintroduced to this magical world that I grew up with,” Ocera said. “I hope this is something that kids can hold onto for generations to come.”
Dayton Berezoski, Ocera’s ten-year-old half-brother is also a Harry Potter fan. He said he feels the books have greatly impacted his generation, even though the books came out before kids his age were able to read them.
“The books have more details in them,” Berezoski said. “The seventh one is my favorite. It has a lot of great fights in it, and the main characters show how strong they are.”
Berezoski said most of his friends also enjoy the book and movie series. Ocera and Berezoski both said they hope they would be Gryffindors if they joined the wizarding world.
English graduate student Marjorie Foley said she believes the Harry Potter series will continue to impact readers and viewers for years to come. Foley teaches a summer rhetoric course on Harry Potter because it appeals to so many undergraduates and offers much fodder for literary discussion.
“Most people tend to think that I use this course as an excuse to talk about Harry Potter, but it’s actually the other way around, it’s an excuse to talk about rhetoric,” said Foley, 27, in an email interview.
Foley said the books cover deeper issues than the movies, but the films encompass some great rhetorical substance.
Psychology senior Chelsea Bourland said she realized just how popular her favorite series is when she was unable to purchase tickets to the midnight showings tonight. Although the quick sellout was frustrating, Bourland said she is even more upset the Harry Potter world is coming to an end. She said she will be re-watching all the movies to prepare for this last one.
“When I’m reading the books or watching the movies I feel like I?m at Hogwarts with all of them,” Bourland said. “They helped put stuff into perspective, and they made me realize that my problems aren?t that bad compared to facing Voldemort and losing my parents.”
Even those who aren’t fans of the books find it hard to escape the series. Radio-television-film senior Kyle Taylor said he refused to read the Harry Potter series when his sixth grade classmates did because he didn’t want to jump on the wizard bandwagon.
“I feel like reading the books ruins the movies for Harry Potter fans,” Taylor said. “People always complain that the movies have ruined key parts of the books, but the movies themselves are really good.”
Taylor said watching the movies allowed him to connect to the characters in a deeper way. He said the movies taught him about dealing with death for the first time and the power of friendship. And though he was skeptical of the series when he first encountered it, he will join many other UT students tonight as they bid farewell to a franchise that has been a presence for most of their lives.