UK Day 2 – Harry Potter Studio Tour

Being a huge and long time Harry Potter fan, the Studio tour was the first thing I booked after my flight, and i booked it for the day after I arrived because I know I needed as much energy I can use to maximize my visit. My accommodation is at the East side of London while Leavesden, where the Warner Brother Studios is located, is on the West so it was a bit of a long travel. I feel like I’ve already mastered the art of riding the tube in the two days that I have been here.

I got to Watford Junction just in time to catch the bus headed to the Warner Brothers Studios. It’s the easiest way to get there and you can’t miss the bus! It’s covered in Harry Potter!!

When you enter the studios, you’re greeted by giant portraits of the actors, a cafe to the left and the gift shop to the right (where I spent so much money on!!!) I joined the queue to enter and in no time I got in. You first have to go through two video showings before actually seeing the real studio. The first movie was mainly about the general success of Harry Potter with the fans. The second one got me crying, where the three main actors explained the purpose behind the studio tours and how it’s like a tribute to everyone behind the films who made the success possible. I think I reached my breaking point when Emma Watson said “(The crew) made the magic world real and our real world magical.”

 

Coffee and Harry Potter… two of my favorite things

 

After the film viewings we’re finally allowed into the studios. The first set that we see is the Great Hall which is indeed great. Although it does look smaller as compared to how it looks in the films, I really felt like I was in Hogwarts getting ready for supper with my house (Ravenclaw!!)

 

 

Once you get past the Great Hall, you enter a really big studio which contains the other sets used in the movie such as Dumbledore’s Office, the Gryffindor dorm and Common Room, the interior of the Burrow, Umbridge’s Office, Hagrid’s Hut, etc. It also cotained several displays of props such as Voldemort’s Horcruxes, Rita Skeeter’s quill, the Goblet of Fire and some brooms! There was actually an area where you can ride a broom and fly around Hogwarts, the streets of London, the Great Lake (of course all via green screen).

 

The Studio Tour has two main studios indoor studios and is separated by an open area which contains even more of the props and scenes! This is where you can see the Hogwarts Bridge, #4 Privet Drive, Godric Hollow, the Knight Bus, the Grave of Tom Riddle Sr., and Sirius’ motorbike. They also serve butterbeer, which is really sweet and frothy, in this area and I really enjoyed it! I made friends with another solo traveler, a really sweet Korean girl and we decided we would take each other’s pictures around this area since we were allowed to pose on the props in this area.

 

 

The next area was the Monsters area! They showed the many different creatures that were made for the film and some videos on how they were made.   We got to pass through the actual Diagon Alley! I wish it was real so that I could go into each shop, get a wand, adopt a pet owl,  buy a broom, fit a robe. They also featured some of the paintings and scale models used to imagine how the scenes would look like.

 

 

 

Finally, and this was one of the most majestic sights I’ve seen, there was a really big and pretty model of the entire Hogwarts Castle! It’s really beautiful and you know that they’ve done a lot of work to perfect it! Wow.

 

The tour ends in the gift shop where I got some things for myself and for my Harry Potter fan friends. A lot of wonderful things to see. I wanted to buy a stuffed Hippogriff but I wouldn’t have any space for it in my baggage!

I really think every Potter fan should make it a point to visit the Harry Potter Studio at least once in their lifetime. It’s an amazing experience and you could really see all the hard work everyone put into making the amazing world of Harry Potter come to life! It took me almost four hours just to go through the entire thing! There was so many things to see! I would definitely want to go back if given the chance!! But for now I’m just happy I was given the chance to actually experience the whole thing first hand!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I’m really bad at making reviews for my favorite things because my emotions get the best of me, so I’m not claiming that this is a review.  Rather I’d like to think that it’s a reaction to the first part of the epic finale of Harry Potter.

We had to drive all the way to Bahrain just to catch the movie on the first week. We weren’t able to reserve tickets since, well, it’s in another country. Luckily we arrived at the mall early so we were able to get really good seats (smack at the middle of the cinema yea.). I watched my the movie with my brother who until recently, had no interest in the magical world of Harry Potter.

I started crying uncontrollably when they showed Hermione in her room. That whole montage until the Order were at Harry’s door just got to me. I think the actors had grown so much. especially Emma Watson whose eyebrows were not overused in this movie (a good change).

I think the whole movie was a weepfest for me. The opening montage, Hedwig dying trying to save Harry (which I did not expect. It is a refreshing take on his whole death. I think it was better than how she died in the book), Ron getting splinched, Ron leaving (Rupert was AMAZING), Hermione getting tortured, and Dobby’s death in Harry’s arms.

I am more of a fan of the Harry Potter books than of the movies, since the movies tend to skip some parts or leave out parts that would be relevant in the next films. But I think this is more of a constraint than a conscious omission of scenes with future relevance. Not only is it difficult to perfectly translate the layers in the book onto the big screen, but it is also a challenge to please and entertain both fans of the series (both of the books and the movies) and casual viewers.

In addition to that, the movies were being made even before Rowling completed the series. Anyone who had read the series would know that the whole plot has been so intricately made that small details in past books have been highlighted in later books (seeing an old tiara where Harry hid the Half Blood Prince’s potions textbook which ends up being a Horcrux, Tom Riddle’s Diary playing a bigger role that we thought it would from CoS, and the significance of the locket found in Kreacher’s cupboard in OotP which played a greater role in the final book). Unfortunately, the writers (especially Kloves who’s getting most of the anger from fans)  did not know this while writing the script.

Although I would have liked to seen how the movies would have looked like if they were released after all seven books were published, I don’t think they would find a cast as perfect as the have right now, with the whole cast (with the understandable case of Dumbledore) had stayed with Harry Potter until the end. That itself is one of the greatest accomplishments of Harry Potter as a movie series.

And because of all I said, I don’t agree with all the purists who want every single word in the book to make an appearance in the films. Whenever I watch the films, I try to separate them from the books and see them as an entity in itself with my knowledge of the books merely as supplemental, in order for me to completely understand what was going on.

There were several missing scenes and dialogue that disappointed me a bit, some being the redemption of Dudley where he tells Harry he wasn’t a waste of space and the line “he knew you would come back” (which i was expecting while they were talking. It was one of the lines from the book that moved me). But this did not in any way curb the satisfaction I received by the end of the film.

In retrospect, this film has actually been the most accurate and faithful to the books, so you know that long and dragging camping scene casual movie goers are complaining about? Yeah that was in the book. Personally, I did not find it to be long and dragging, since well it was much longer in the books (where they actually talked about the cooking, hunting for food, overhearing Dean and the others on the run, Ron complaining about Hermione’s cooking, and a lot of talk). Also, the scenes of them camping were interrupted by the Doe, Godric’s Hollow, the Lovegood Residence, destroying a horcrux, etc. I actually thought they did a good mix of both action and camping scenes.

With all that, I just want to end this post with: OMG I LOVED THE MOVIE SFM YOU GUISE MUST ALL WATCH IT. I WAS AN EMOTIONAL MESS LEAVING THE CINEMA AFTER TWO AND A HALF HOURS.