The Harry Potter Reunion is a light in COVID’s darkness


Art by Anabelle Jakala

Georgia Jensen

In true pandemic fashion, “Harry Potter: the Return to Hogwarts,” is the reunion for our troubling times. Free of threats posed by risky trips to Harry Potter World or even to the movie theater, “Harry Potter” fans can relive the magic of the films from the comfort of their own homes with the reunion, released by HBO Max on New Year’s Day. 

Opening with nostalgic scenes of friendly embraces amidst familiar Hogwarts sets, with the iconic John Williams score playing joyously in the background, “Harry Potter: the Return to Hogwarts” draws its audience in immediately.  

The reunion special commemorates the 20th anniversary of the release of the series opener, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and unpacks the behind-the-scenes story of each film. The special also marks the first time the majority of the “Harry Potter” cast has publicly appeared together since promotions for the final film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2,” released in 2010.

The reunion beautifully highlights intimate conversations between cast members revealing never-before-told stories, warmly welcoming back audiences to the magical world they so cherish.

This special has something for everybody, from die-hard Potterheads to casual viewers. The nearly two-hour-long extravaganza is infused with anecdotes ranging in familiarity. Hardcore fans know about the character essays Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) were tasked with writing on the set of “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” but even the most devout fans couldn’t have known about the secret love letter Radcliffe wrote to co-star Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange). These new stories reintroduce charm and whimsy into the familiar world of Harry Potter.

However, that’s not to say that the reunion lived up to all of the expectations its trailer set. If you were excited to see the cast sit down to dinner in the Great Hall, you would be disappointed. As a matter of fact, the long-awaited reunion wasn’t much of a reunion at all. Without quintessential cast-members such as Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Julie Walters (Molly Weasly), and author J.K. Rowling herself, the reunion’s narrative feels incomplete. 

In another startling twist, some actors who appeared to take part in the reunion weren’t actually there at all. While most of the cast taped their segments of the reunion at the Warner Brothers Studio in Leavesden, Daniel Radcliffe’s segments were recorded separately and later edited to appear as if they were all together. However, these circumstances were likely caused by the pandemic, so while the lack of a full-fledged reunion is heartbreaking for those that looked forward to it, it is understandable. 

A key factor to the Harry Potter franchise’s allure is its nostalgic feel. Audiences watched as Radcliffe, Grunt, and Watson grew from wide-eyed children into mature adults on screen. So, while flawed, this film perfectly captured the feeling of a family reunion. Knowing that the stars of the movies we love so much remain as equally immersed in the world of Harry Potter  as we are, instills a warm feeling into our hearts during an otherwise troubling time. This return to Hogwarts reunion is a pure testament to Dumbledore’s words that “happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”