Friday, December 31, 2021

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts - A Magical, Moving Reunion For The Cast And Fans

Dumbledore: "After all this time?"
Snape: "Always."

During her wee childhood years, Red Dot Diva was usually found submerged in books of fairy tales and fantasy. She devoured books like candy, and her imagination took her far far away to very British worlds of boarding schools and magical creatures like elves, wizards and centaurs.

When J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books were published, Red Dot Diva was already a grown woman, but that did not stop her from getting back in touch with her inner child. She was caught up by the detailed lore, and the books' many intriguing characters and creatures. It had been a long time since a book series have managed to capture her wild imagination. However, there was also a familiarity to the Harry Potter books.

Red Dot Diva attended an Anglican-run primary and secondary girls' school with similar terminologies, like prefects and headmistresses. Every schoolgirl was put into a school house - somewhat like the Sorting Hat. In her case, the houses were named after the colours of Red, Blue, Green and Yellow, and she had fond memories of challenges between the different houses where points were given by the teachers. So, when she was watching HBO Max's HARRY POTTER 20TH ANNIVERSARY: RETURN TO HOGWARTS, she felt like she was travelling in a personal time portal too.

In the highly unscripted special celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first film HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE, fans will get to see a warm reunion amongst the famous trio Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, as well as the other beloved fan favourite actors like Tom Felton, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Alfred Enoch, Matthew Lewis, and Evanna Lynch. The cinematic franchise also boasted of a cast that included Britain's acting royalty - names like Ralph Fiennes, Helen Bonham Carter, Gary Oldman, Jason Isaacs, and Mark Williams. In the case of veteran actor Robbie Coltrane, who was Hagrid, the towering, empathetic gamekeeper of Hogwarts, he has watched the young actors grow up on set since the first Harry Potter movie.

When the first film was made, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson were just kids. It is amazing how much they have gone through together and individually, as well as the lasting impact that they experienced while growing up in a unique environment where the lines between work and friendship were blurred for over a decade.

In their interviews and intimate conversations, Red Dot Diva could feel that there is a genuine atmosphere of love and care that the cast and directors had for each other. There are interesting anecdotes and revelations as the actors and directors reminisce about their own joys, struggles and awkward moments on each of the film's sets, including how uncomfortable Emma felt when they had to film Ron's and Hermione's first kiss, and how committed Jason Isaacs blew hot and cold when acting as the cruel Lucas Malfoy.

Of course, no one can ever forget the extraordinary Alan Rickman, who took on the role of Severus Snape for all of the Harry Potter films. He was mentioned many times during the reunion, and was given a lovely tribute by his close friend, Ralph Fiennes. Sadly, many involved in the film, like Richard Harris and Helen McCrory, have passed on, and there was a short segment in memory of all of them.

On a separate note, J.K. Rowling, the polarising creator of the world of Harry Potter, does not appear in the reunion. Instead, past recorded footage of her interviews are used in the show.

HARRY POTTER 20TH ANNIVERSARY: RETURN TO HOGWARTS is not just a reunion special, it is a wonderfully crafted and edited documentary. By making use of carefully selected behind the scenes, actual film clips and the cast's interactions, the audience is guided on the 10-year journey that the films' actors and crew took together. There is such a special bond between the Harry Potter franchise, the actors and the fans. When Red Dot Diva watched the media screener, it also brought back memories of the pain and the joy that she had personally experienced all those years. It was all very sentimental, and by the end of it, most of the actors (even Daniel Radcliffe) were teary. And so was Red Dot Diva.

HARRY POTTER 20TH ANNIVERSARY: RETURN TO HOGWARTS will premiere exclusively in Asia on HBO GO, on Saturday, January 1, 2022. If you want to refresh your memory and get all the feels again, all eight Harry Potter films are available on HBO GO before the special begins streaming. Or, you can get ready for the magical event by watching the quiz show HARRY POTTER: HOGWARTS TOURNAMENT OF HOUSES hosted by Helen Mirren.


Did you notice the SG represent in the anniversary special? In the red and white striped top on the right is Kenny Chan, the well known (now retired) director of the local Kinokuniya book stores, at a Harry Potter event with a bunch of excited fans. Were you one of the fans in the fleeting segment?

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