Illustration of the Harry Potter insignia.

The ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’ Special Is Spellbinding and Tactful

HBO Max recently released a reunion event celebrating the magical series, and long-time fans were delighted to see the main trio on their screens once more.
January 9, 2022
9 mins read

There’s nothing like watching your family and friends grow up around you to remind you that you’re old. What’s worse is watching while the stars you admired as a child get old, too. Even after all this time, Harry, Ron and Hermione never fail to transport fans back to those warm childhood days. That’s why the Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts reunion special is the small comforting push we need for the new year.

“Harry Potter” Nostalgia and the Magic of Reunions

Watching the “Harry Potter” reunion felt like catching up with old friends. So many fan favorites — the main trio included — returned to discuss their experiences and their favorite memories from creating the classic films. HBO Max has a few anniversary reunions under its belt, including the long-awaited “Friends” reunion. No matter how overdone these anniversary specials are, I will always be one to watch them. It’s always fun going back down memory lane to remember the good times in our lives. Because of this, the “Harry Potter” reunion does a great job of bringing fans back to when they were kids.

The special takes viewers on a journey through the timeline of films, from “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” all the way to “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” I believe fans will enjoy the cohesive flow of the interviews and how they relate to each film.

I personally loved that each director talked about how they put their own touch on each film and how it related to the story. The films become progressively darker and more mature, and the directors touch on those details. It really just goes to show how, as an audience, we were kids growing up alongside the young actors and actresses we watched on screen. This is something that is so special and is normally only shared within long-running TV series. Even when movies have long series, many actors get switched out or replaced. “Harry Potter” is so special because we really stick with these characters from beginning to end, learning about them and loving them throughout.

J.K. Rowling

Now, I’ll admit that I was a bit hesitant to watch the reunion. I love “Harry Potter” with my entire being, but J.K. Rowling is an entirely different story. I’ll give credit to the amazing world she created and all the phenomenal talents involved in bringing that world to life; I just can’t believe such a problematic person could write such beautiful messages without standing behind them.

When I realized that Rowling had minimal involvement in the special, I felt better about watching the people I actually love. With the bits she was included in, the creators of the reunion made it a point to show that her segments were filmed far before some of the controversies. She was initially invited back, but the team decided they had enough footage of her from older interviews. It made it feel like they were saying, “Yeah she’s in this, it just was too late for us to take it out and we technically had to include the original creator.” If Rowling’s involvement has made you wishy-washy about enjoying the reunion, just know that you can still join in on all the nostalgic fun the gang has to offer without having to watch too much footage of her.

Why “Harry Potter” Is Bigger Than Its Author

There’s so much talk about being able to separate art from the artist and whether it’s something we should consider or not.

While I don’t believe it’s right to support problematic people, audiences need to remember how many other artists are involved as well. I believe Robbie Coltrane put it best in an interview about his role as Rubeus Hagrid: “The legacy of these movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children. So, you could be watching them in 50 years’ time, easy. I’ll not be here sadly … But Hagrid will be.” Many grew up with these films and many after will, too. What a beautiful thing it is to be a part of a project so impactful that even generations after yourself will be around to appreciate it. The “Harry Potter” reunion provides so much insight affirming that these films didn’t just mean the world to us, but to the people that were involved in creating them as well.

Secrets and Reactions

Another aspect of the special that fans will enjoy is the secrets that have come to the surface — especially for Hermione and Draco shippers. Emma Watson spills the beans about having a crush on Tom Felton and how that crush developed in one of their first encounters. The small spoonful of fan fiction that many have been starving for has been fed to them after all these years. Fans are gushing over this story along with others. However, I will leave these tales for you to experience for yourself. The reunion also addresses many fan theories and speculations that some of us fans have been wondering about since the end of the last film.

The general reaction from the public is super positive, but the special has still left fans an emotional wreck. Many people mentioned how watching the “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary” felt like watching “Harry Potter” come to a close all over again. My friend Ashley tweeted, “In true cringe millennial fashion, the Harry Potter reunion had my eyes wet the entire time.” I’ll admit that watching your childhood heroes reunite makes you cry much more than you’ll expect to. All I could think about was how exciting and magical a special would be, but I forgot that watching would also be a reminder of how everything we’ve once enjoyed will eventually come to an end.

This anniversary reunion is a perfect combination of happy nostalgia and new information Potterheads have been curious about for ages. I’ll forever treasure being a part of a world full of love — and not just one kind. “Harry Potter” has taught me and many others that love is more than just romantic: It’s about friendship and finding families within those friendships. Learning about how strong these connections are at such a young age is so powerful, and all of these incredible people helped to create that. I hope that HBO Max continues to create reunions like this because it’s always nice to be reminded of meaningful values from our favorite fictional worlds.

Tori Barney, Columbia College Chicago

Writer Profile

Tori Barney

Columbia College Chicago
Creative Writing

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