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Harry Potter: The justification of a fantasy obsession

Cailey Arensman
Post Independent Intern
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

It was a Tuesday night, I could have been at home, enjoying dinner with my family before turning in for a good night’s sleep. Instead, I went to see the Harry Potter movie. “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince”, which premiered at midnight July 15, was drawing flocks of fans like me.

Some resorted to waiting in line for hours on end or even camping out ahead of time, hoping to procure tickets. Any sort of pride I may have had in not being one of those people is quickly extinguished when I remember my own actions that evening. After all, dressing up like a character from the movie is probably even stranger.

For those unfamiliar with the Harry Potter phenomenon, crowds (and there were crowds) of people in costume may seem a bit bizarre. The popular movies are based on a seven-book series, written by the British author J.K. Rowling, detailing the trials of a young wizard named Harry Potter.



But though it may seem like coming-of-age, good-versus-evil fantasies are not exactly hard to come by these days and Harry Potter seems to have struck a specific chord with readers. The series’ final book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” sold a record-breaking 44 million copies.

Personally, I attribute this success to more than the plot, the characters and even the writing. To me, it seems like Harry Potter’s success stems from the detail of the world it takes place in. Rowling has created a richly textured magical universe, a place that readers and viewers alike can easily escape to.



Standing outside the movie theater at 11:35 that evening, I looked at the costumes, the anticipatory faces and the ever-expanding crowd. I heard the excited chatter of Potter fans, the horns of cars filled with incredulous passersby. Observing these things, I wondered, for a moment, why any of us cared enough to be there.

But in less than the time it took to pose the question, I knew its answer. I was at this movie, and these people were at the movie, to once more be transported into Rowling’s magical universe.

In terms of the actual movie, I was not exactly amazed. I enjoyed it, but was annoyed by many of the exclusions that, unfortunately, must accompany any book to movie transformation. But regardless of that fact, I returned on Saturday to watch it again, yearning for even an imperfect window into the world of Harry Potter.

Writing about my borderline obsessive behavior, I feel a little bit sheepish. But at the same time, I know that millions of people have similar feelings. And in a time when fewer and fewer people seem to make the time to read, to read anything, who am I to discourage some healthy literary adulation? If Harry Potter has converted any reluctant readers to obsessive fans, then I think that it is most definitely a success.

The next movie comes out in November 2010, and will probably once more draw massive crowds. And for those people who haven’t yet discovered Harry Potter… open up a book, and you may discover a brand-new obsession.


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