Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Temptation: Going to the cinema with The Harry Potter generation

Michelle Styles  explains why going to the cinema to see Harry Potter is an important ritual.

Last night my family and I indulged in one of our family  rituals. Just as we have done six times before, we went to see the new Harry Potter film. Because we have gone to the same local cinema for just about every single Potter film, it was good to see other families indulging in the same exercise. Their eldest might be off at university but the parents and their remaining children were there. The audience was also made up of teenagers and 20 somethings. The magic and appeal of Harry Potter has not changed. It has grown with them.

My children you see are of the Harry Potter generation — just. They were the right age for the books when the books first appeared. JK Rowling made the books grow and explore deeper themes so that they could stay engaged with the series and ploy worked. It does cause problem for parents of younger children because the older books are darker. However, at their core they remain good family entertainment.

My eldest was 8 when we discovered Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone during the Scholastic book fair about the time the second book was published in hardback.  It was the first time I ever allowed him to join a bookclub and he used to enjoy the notes from JK Rowling as well as being invited to participate in some of the early publicity...such as showing up at King's Cross in wizarding dress.

Since that time, Harry Potter has been with the family. First it was just my son and I who loved the books but after the third one, my husband decided to read the books out loud to my daughter to prove that they were not as good as I kept telling everyone. They fell even deeper under the spell. By the time my youngest was old enough to listen, the Harry Potter craze was in full swing. Reading had become cool and each book was enthusiastically greeted. I used to go to coffee with other mothers and discuss the book, particularly what might happen.

Because the early films were filmed around the area, the movies were really fun. It became spot the bit of Alnwick Castle or Durham Cathedral. The used bookshop at Alnwick (surely a place of magic in its own right) used to have a tiny notice asking for children to be extras.

When my eldest turned 17, the last book came out. It didn’t matter that he’d long since grown out of children’s books. He claimed first rights to this one. And when I did get to read it, I discovered the important bits right so the writer in me was proud.

We discussed – was the movie going to be as good?

It was worth it. The movie makes have taken a difficult book to film and made it into a highly watchable film. I will admit to screaming at certain parts much to my younger son’s amusement. At the end, someone in the audience cried — Wait, that can’t be all. And that was precisely how I felt.

Luckily the second part comes out in July and we will be there, watching with our Harry Potter generation children — indulging for one last time in that important part of my children’s growing up and willing Harry, Ron and Hermione to their final destiny. There is just something magical about going to the cinema with your children and enjoying a film together.

Since 1998, historical romance author Michelle Styles has been a fan of Harry Potter. She credits The Order of the Phoenix with help her discover the rule that 90% of your readers will only get 10% of the emotion that the author feels. Her most recent US release is A Question of Impropriety and in the UK The Viking's Captive Princess. You can read more about her books on her website.


  1. What a sweet post Michelle. Harry Potter has definitely cast a spell over our children's generation hasn't it.... I have to admit my oldest and I struggled to get into the books when I tried to read them to him... And my youngest preferred the more bloody delights of Darren Shan (being part werewolf himself!), but I take my hat off to JK Rowling, for inspiring children to read the way she has... And capturing so many people's imaginations.

    Book to film adaptations are always hard because the two mediums are so different and a great book rarely makes a great movie. The Potter films have been sadly cautious so as not to upset readers, but even so they are always an event!

  2. We went to Harry Potter too. Just like you we've grown up with the series, and seen all of them in the cinema. I took kids aged 17 - 9 and a granny who was a harry potter virgin and had to be briefed beforehand on all the characters and plot. It was great. And JK Rowling is such a wonderful writer with such an inventive imagination that she's an inspiration to writers everywhere!

  3. We will end up waiting for the dvd, and having our own ritual: refreshments, the leather sofa, and surround sound. You know none of us particularly enjoys the cinema - there is too much kicking of seats and cell phones and talking. Old scrooge me hates throwing down $60 for the four of us to go and be annoyed.

    So we'll buy the dvd and add it to our collection. Then we can also have marathons. Every year we do a LOTR marathon...

    My girls were a bit too young when the first HP came out, so I waited, and we read all of them aloud. With the movie coming out now - and it being THE END - I've really wanted to dig them all out and re-read. :-) Great post!

  4. It has become a family tradition in our house, too, Michelle. Last night, dh and I went to pick up our son at college and the three of us went to see the movie... just as the three of us have gone to see all the other movies through the years.

    The conversations afterward have changed as he's gone from young teen to young man, but the multi-generational enthusiasm for the books and the movies remain the same.

    And anything that brings a family together for quality time and lively discussions is a wonderful thing, I think!

  5. I am pleased to see that other families have also indulged in the ritual.
    And Donna we also watch them when they come out on dvd or in the case of the first one, it was video...but it is that going to the movies as a family and seeing other people doing the same.