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The Best Moments from the Harry Potter Franchise

CONTAINS SPOILERS! - To be honest, if you don't know what happens, you aren't going to be interested in this article!

This is part of the "Best of..." series

Probably the most significant film franchise ever, the Harry Potter film series (2001-2011) redefined how several generations of movie goers saw films. From the state-of-the-art special effects to the incredible practical effects, this series saw many young actors careers launched, gave rise to a new obsession for a whole generation and reinvented the film experience. Since the series finished in 2011, a two-part play, a spin-off film series, a new sport, theme parks and countless games, books and toys have brought magic into people's lives, literally.

The Warner Brother's studio tour, in Leavesden, Hertfordshire (in England), was only supposed to be up for a year, showcasing how the series was created. For the last 21 years (2024 is now its 22nd year), thousands of people PER DAY experience how the films were made. I have been there five times myself!

In this article, I will briefly detail my favourite moments from the eight Harry Potter films, in no particular order.

"Hi!" - Harry on Liquid Luck - The Half-Blood Prince (Film 6, 2009)

I will confess now that I do not think Harry Potter as a character is particularly good. A lot of the time, I felt that Dan Radcliffe was a bit wooden. It wasn't really until the second half of the series that the story and characterisation allowed Dan to act. This could also be because the young cast were all relatively inexperienced, or that by film 5 they had matured into their roles more.

In this scene, you really see Dan milking the opportunity to act freely. Earlier in the film, he wins a vile of Felix Felicis, or Liquid Luck. Finally finding a reason to use it, he takes a swig in the Griffindor common room as he plans to go to Professor Slughorn to get some information for Professor Dumbledore. Harry then decides to go to see Hagrid, much to Hermione's objections.

I really feel Hagrid's is the place to be tonight!

And off he marches. He bumps into two people coming into the room and shouts "Hi!" in their faces. As he ventures off through the castle grounds, Dan sports a much more relaxed Harry, much to the confusion of Slughorn, who he has snuck up on. Slughorn chases Harry, insisting he heads back to the castle, before Harry points out to Slughorn and Hagrid how the pincers on spiders can be a bit intimidating.

Slughorn: "Harry, I really must insist you accompany me back to the castle!"
Harry: "That would be counter-productive, Sir."
Slughorn: "What makes you say that?"
Harry: "No idea."

Dan's fluidity and relaxed attitude to the scenes really showcased his acting skills, and from this point on you start to see more, but subtler, highlights of his abilities.

Dumbledore vs Voldemort battle in the Ministry of Magic - The Order of the Phoenix (Film 5, 2007)

This is an incredible sequence. An epic battle, at a key moment in the series. Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Lord Voldemort (Ralph Finnes) have this truly magical battle over Harry, almost literally, and the director chose a very interesting technique.

No music.

Usually, you would have some kind of dramatic and tense music in a scene like this. But the choice to just have the sounds of the spells, the water, the fire, the glass and the wand swishes makes this scene so interesting and intense. I don't think I know another one like it. Rather than having music to guide you through the scene, you are enveloped into the action as you would be in real life. It is a scene that the series turns on, taking us into the darkening road to the end.

Harry's Grief - The Mirror of Erised The Philosopher's Stone (Film 1), Cedric Diggory The Goblet of Fire (Film 4), Sirius Black The Order of the Phoenix (Film 5), Dobby The Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 (Film 7), The Resurrection Stone The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 (Film 8)

This might be weird, but the Harry's grief is explored quite superbly in many ways, and it loops around the series into a very nice circle. Daniel Radcliffe played each scene so well, and I do think they do him so well as an actor. Let me take you through each.

The Mirror of Erised in The Philosoper's Stone (2001) shows the viewer what they desire most. With Harry, it is his parents. He sits in front of the mirror and just watches them, knowing this may well be the closest he will ever feel to them. It is his chance to grieve for them, but in a way of acceptance as he can feel like he can have a piece of closure. This is reflected later in The Deathly Hallows Part 1 (2010) when he finds their grave. His grief is not of sadness, but relief. He has found them, and can finally be at peace knowing where they are.

Cedric Diggory is killed by Wormtail in The Goblet of Fire (2005), and Harry is able to bring his body back to Hogwarts to warn everyone. Here, Harry isn't grieving as much for Cedric, although he is protective over his body until "Professor Moody" drags him away, but he is in fear. Until then, Lord Voldemort's threat was still one that seemed almost gone after the incident in The Chamber of Secrets (2002). Now, however, Voldemort is very much alive and real, and Harry fears for not just his life, but for everyone he knows and loves.

One of the standout moments for me was after Sirius Black is killed by Bellatrix Le Strange in The Order of the Phoenix (2007). Harry has finally found someone he can call family, and someone he can trust outside of school. Sirius is that bond to his parent's that Harry has always longed for, and a father figure who has no agenda other than Harry himself. So when Harry watches Sirius fall into the empty doorway in the Department of Mysteries and vanish, he feels that his last living family has been taken from him. Remus Lupin holds him back as he screams for his loss, in a scene muted and slowed for operatic and dramatic effect. There are some theories as to why this is, including a real-life loss in the Radcliffe family just before filming and the performance being too raw, making many of the cast cry. There is no real evidence for either of those. The anger Harry is feeling at that point is so well brought out by Daniel Radcliffe and the edit itself makes it one of the most emotional scenes in the franchise.

The Deathly Hallows Parts 1 & 2 (2010-11) explores a lot of death, including some huge characters. In Part 1, we see the hugely popular Dobby dying of a wound inflicted by Bellatrix. By this point, Dobby is a regular character that Harry trusts and sees as a friend, which is one of the many reasons why Dobby is so loyal to him. The scene is iconic, and the real location is visited a lot by fans. Harry holds Dobby's small, child-like body in his arms as he passes away, quite content. Harry weeps, having desperately begged Hermione to get something out of her bag to save him. As Luna closes his eyes, Harry insists on giving Dobby a muggle burial, treating him like an equal. It is tear-jerking and almost too painful to watch, while also making the end of the film put Lord Voldemort in an advantageous position. When we first met Dobby in The Chamber of Secrets (2002), his first words were to shout Harry's name at him. His final words round his journey off perfectly.

Dobby is happy to be with his friend, Harry Potter.

In Part 2, we see Harry using the fabled Resurrection Stone to see his loved ones again. His parents appear, with Sirius and Remus (who has just been killed) appearing to tell him they will protect him and will always be with him. Harry accepts that this might be the end, but he has his parents and closest friends with him as he faces what he fears. It is the final closure for him. No matter what happens now, he has finally met his parents and knows he hasn't ever truly lost them. As Severus Snape had said about his feelings towards her in his dying memory, Harry's mother Lily reiterates how long they will be by his side.


Bellatix Le Strange's Death - The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Film 8, 2011)

She killed Sirius, and she killed Dobby. Then she went after Ginny Weasley in front of Mrs Molly Weasley. Oh, big mistake.

I saw the final film at a midnight showing in my local cinema. It was packed out and the energy was fantastic. You know you are in for a treat when people are cheering at the title sequence. Then came the final battle. Molly Weasley's now-historic line rings out through the speakers...

Not my daughter, you bitch!

...and the cinema erupts in cheers! Bellatrix deflects the first spell, pushes Molly back with a couple of cheap shots but one good block gives Molly that chance and she thrusts a curse forward and Bellatrix explodes into dust. The cinema roared with delight!

I hear Helena Bonham Carter is very nice, though slightly crazy. She and Daniel Radcliffe have a very good relationship. Check out this YouTube clip of them chatting during the 20th Anniversary Special (sorry for ads!).

And that's my few picks! There are others, like Hermione punching Draco, or Ralph Fiennes' improvised and awkward hug between Voldemort and Draco, so maybe another article will come. Harry Potter is, and will always be, one of cinema's defining franchises and I do not believe much, if anything, will come close to its level of social influence.

Oh, how far they've come!

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