It’s almost time for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and here at The Edge we couldn’t be more excited. It only seemed right, therefore, to take a look at where our long-standing love-affair with all things magic began, so, without further ado, ‘accio!’ our favourite moments from Rowling’s cinematic wizarding world…
Leaving Hogwarts – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001)
From the sorting hat to wizard’s chess, the Philosopher’s Stone is packed full of some of the most iconic Harry Potter moments, but none pull on the heartstrings quite like Harry’s bittersweet departure from Hogwarts at the end of the film. Despite the cuts on his face that remind us of just how much the young wizard has been through over the past term (or two hours of our time), Harry still looks so young, and as he beams up at father figure Hagrid to say goodbye, we can’t help but want to do everything in our power to stop our hero having to return to the land of muggles. The train pulls away and the camera poignantly pans up towards the horizon, and by the time John Williams’ aptly titled, ‘Leaving Hogwarts’ kicks in, there’s not a single dry eye in the house. This was the moment it became clear that our relationship with the wizarding world would become a long-standing, magical affair.
The Knight Bus – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
The Knight Bus scene is quintessential Harry Potter – the very embodiment of the marvels and wonders that feature in the universe created by J.K. Rowling. An unsuspecting Harry finds himself aboard the infamous Knight Bus – a bus that is summoned to help stranded witches and wizards. As the bus flies through traffic, narrowly swerving past and squeezing by obstacles on route, Harry is flung forward and backwards on on-board. While passengers and luggage alike are thrown about the bus at the hands of the haphazard elderly driver’s manoeuvres, the running commentary and witticisms of the Shrunken Head, who is hung from the rear view mirror to assist the driver on his journey, make the scene an incredibly amusing one – especially as Harry is eventually seen to face plant into the back window of the bus.
Although this scene is a beloved fan favourite, and perhaps one of the film’s most memorable, it also subtly introduces the film’s darker undercurrents with talks of the elusive mass murder Sirius Black being at large shadowing the scene. Very cleverly, it is one that is immediately fun for audiences, but also sets the tone for the film, a tone that is much darker compared to Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets, with lingering threats of real danger for Harry and his friends at Hogwarts.
The Graveyard Scene – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
Harry Potter is for kids, right? Right? Or so we all thought. Up to this point, besides a few isolated moments of peril, the series had been light and warm in tone, a cosy autumnal retreat into a magical land of whimsical craft and design. That all changed when, at the climax of Goblet of Fire, the malevolent Lord Voldemort was reborn. Goblet of Fire was the first film in the series to receive a 12A certificate in the UK – you can certainly see why. This scene sees Cedric, victim of happenstance, casually murdered before an ugly, skeletal Volde-baby is transformed, through the help of a severed hand and the blood of our protagonist, into Ralph Fiennes – except he’s a snake-like pale, completely hairless and has mere slits where a nose should be. With his own KKK to boot, this inhuman symbol of pure evil needed a strong performer; Fiennes does not disappoint, his portrayal perfectly creepy and instantly terrifying. Reminiscent of Luke vs. Vader in Empire Strikes Back, the first direct confrontation between Harry and Voldemort is an exhilarating and horrifying sequence that birthed one of popular cinema’s most iconic villains. Shit just got real, with the films becoming much darker from here onward.
Dumbledore vs. Voldemort – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
Two of the wizarding world’s greatest sorcerers going hammer and tong (or should I say hammer and wand?) against each other, all put to screen with astonishing visual effects and terrific performances from Michael Gambon and Ralph Fiennes? SIGN ME UP.
Honestly. The duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort at the end of Order of the Phoenix stands alone as one of the series’ finest moments, and not just for the visuals – although they’re still strong enough that no soundtrack is required to accentuate the on-screen action and punctuate it with moments of emotion. It’s also the first moment in the series that we get to see the true power of two wizards we’ve heard so many fantastical things about so far, as well as a thrilling climax to the film’s crescendo in the Ministry of Magic that places both wizards (as well as Harry Potter) in true peril more times than one. Magical stuff.
– Sam Law
The Felix Felicis Potion – Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
It starts off like any other scheme in the series, with our favourite trio in a circle contemplating what they’re about to do. But instead of rehashing this classic schtick, director David Yates sets out to transform it. Harry takes his lucky Felix Felicis potion, which has much the same effect as taking a certain other substance, and off he goes to find Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) in completely the wrong place. Broadbent’s wheeler-dealer persona shines here, while not making his professor appear heartless. Mismatched with the slapstick nature of the scene, the atmospheric and beautiful grounds of Hogwarts and the dark rustic nature of Hagrid’s hut are the only features that remind you that this is HP6. But then the mood changes again, like at the end of a high, and it ends with Harry helping Slughorn produce the memory that he’d been after. That shot of Slughorn’s shaking hand and Harry’s there to steady it is so beautiful and such a reassurance for the ashamed Slughorn that you forget to work out whether Harry achieved this under the potion at all, or whether he simply won Slughorn over.
The Tent Scene – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)
Over six movies, we have grown to love our magical heroes and despite previous bickers such as Crookshanks, The Yule Ball, and Lavender Brown, they always make up for it in the end. Not this time…
Sitting in their damp charmed tent as Harry and Hermione finally figure out a method that would destroy one of Voldemort’s horcruxes, but Ron’s growing concern for his family’s safety and the jealousy of his two best friends’ relationship finally tips him over the edge. Up until this point, Harry Potter has mostly been about the magic and wand-waving trickery that continues to wonder us for generations. But it’s easy to forget that friendship is a key factor in the series, especially when it all falls apart. Harry shouts, ‘You think I don’t know how this feels?’ whilst Ron answers back in fury with ‘You don’t know how it feels! Your parents are dead, you have no family!’ – my favourite piece of dialogue in the whole series because of its brutal honesty. Every time I watch it, I always feel goosebumps and not because of the swelling music from Alexandre Desplat, but because you’re watching a friendship built over six years crumble before you. And that is why it packs more punch than any other moment.