At midnight -- an appropriate hour -- Friday, the final "Harry Potter" film will hit screens. Scattered among the packed theaters will be lucky Muggles who won a handful of tickets provided by the Standard-Examiner's Mark Saal, who somehow finagled a couple of score-plus passes.
Saal offered free tickets via his column last Sunday. Contestants needed to e-mail him to qualify for a chance to see the film. Within a day, more than 700 hopeful "Potter" fans had e-mailed for a chance to see a midnight screening. Such is the phenomenal popularity -- in both novel and film -- of "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling's magical world.
The assumption that a novel is almost always better than its film version applies to "Harry Potter" as well. Nevertheless, the films are also a treat, as much for "Potter-philes" as those unacquainted with the novels. Through the course of a decade, eight high-quality, critically acclaimed film adaptations have been produced of the seven volumes (the final two films adapt the final "Potter" novel). The "Harry Potter" films recently surpassed the "James Bond" films as the highest-grossing film series of all time.
The visual legacy of the eight "Harry Potter" films will stay with fans for generations. Even if, as likely, the series is repeated in the future, The faces of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) are more than remembered by film-goers. They are iconic symbols. The films' adaptors visions of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade, Dumbledore's office, the Haunted Shack, the Great Hall, the Hogwarts Express, Hagrid's hut, Hagrid himself, hippograffs, death eaters, Voldemort, Dudley Dursley, and so on, are preserved in games, film books and at a major amusement park.
In fact, the entire "Potter" film saga provides viewers with a "who's who" of prominent British, Irish, Scottish, actors of the past two generations. They include -- and there are so many we assume we have missed a couple -- Richard Harris (Dumbledore), Maggie Smith (Minerva McGonagall), Robby Coltrane (Hagrid), Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Michael Gambon (who replaced Harris as Dumbledore after Harris' death), Warwick Davis, John Hurt, Fiona Shaw, Julie Walters, John Cleese, Mark Williams, Emma Thompson, Kenneth Branagh, Mark Williams, Jason Isaacs, David Thewlis, Julie Christie, Timothy Spall, Brendan Gleeson, Miranda Richardson, Imelda Staunton, Helena Bonham Carter, Ciaran Hinds, Jim Broadbent, and of course, Ralph Fiennes, as Lord Voldemort, also known as "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."
Enjoy "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," it's the end of the first round of film adaptations of novels that will still be read hundreds of years into the future.