Fan Focus: Caitlin – November 14, 2010

19-year-old Caitlin from Canada


First off, how did you become a Harry Potter fan?

This is kind of a funny story because my first experience with Harry Potter was not a wonderful one… I was first introduced to Harry Potter by Brad. Brad, name changed to protect his identity, had a crush on me in fourth grade (1999). I was eight years old, had never heard of Harry Potter, and all I knew was that Brad, the boy who followed me around during recess, kept trying to cast spells on me. We were off to a bad start, Harry and I. I made it a point to vehemently insist that Harry Potter was, tragically, ‘dumb’. I *hated* Harry Potter, and Brad was gross. I would read anything but Harry Potter. Hand over that Auto manual, because Harry Potter? Not. Cool. My recesses all seemed to consist of running away from the crazy boy casting spells at me and after my birthday, nine-year-old me went on a visit to my Aunt’s farm; my cousins (all boys) ran off with my siblings (all brothers) and left me alone (and bored) with the adults. My Aunt worked in an elementary school and after hours of sitting with the adults as they had a nice, long conversation, she told me that she had just the thing for me: a book that all of the students at school just loved… Lo and behold, she returned holding the cursed book in her hands: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Now, I was raised to be polite and, although doubtful about the book’s potential, I agreed to give the book a shot. I’d finished the book before the end of the day, and I apparently changed my mind about this Harry Potter business as I proceeded to write three book reports on the subject in Grade Six. Brad, it turned out, wasn’t that bad, and I suspect I would have enjoyed the spell-casting game a little bit more had he not been attempting to cast love spells on me.

It has been over three years since Deathly Hallows came out and we found out how the series ended. Do you have the same reaction to the ending now, as you did then?

Yes and no. I remember the wait for Deathly Hallows, and one of the big, big questions was whether Harry would live or die. I was upside-down over the question. Harry couldn’t die, of course, but I wasn’t sure that living was really an option at this point. If he were to live, I kept imagining some intensive last battle between Voldemort and Harry, a duel involving clever spells and sheer fate and Harry coming out the winner….and somehow, I couldn’t quite imagine that this would be it. However, the ending that Jo dreamed up was perfect because I think that Harry was so human throughout it all. I don’t know how to put it: he was completely human in his emotions, in his powers…I think it was appropriate that being the only one who could defeat Voldemort didn’t mean discovering a fantastical, formidable, tangible power that he possessed. Harry was physically tying Voldemort to this world, and facing death was the only way to defeat him; his power to love, as Dumbledore suggested, was what made it possible for him to defeat Voldemort, to sacrifice himself. I really don’t do it justice, but the fact that Harry’s ability to defeat Voldemort rested in his willpower and courage, instead of an extraordinary magic that only he possessed, made the ending so much more credible to me. I didn’t look into that deeply when I first read it but, as many details and ideas in Harry Potter seemed to, it jumped out at me when I reflected upon it afterwards. I recall feeling a little anxious, as I approached the end of the book, because it felt so absolute. Giving us sight into the future to glimpse the characters’ lives years later, however, was kind of comforting. Without this, I think that the book would have cut off too suddenly, particularly after having such intimate detail up until this point. It doesn’t seem enough to have a “Happily Ever After” ending; showing us that life went on afterwards was a perfect way to close the series.

The Deathly Hallows split was announced last month. If you read the spoiler, what do you think? Where would YOU split the movie?

I originally thought that they might split the movie somewhere around Ron’s reappearance and the destruction of the locket. It seemed like a good stopping point at the time, but I’d clearly never really thought about it hard enough because at this point, they haven’t said a thing about the Deathly Hallows (*you know what the movie is named for?). For the (silly) people who haven’t read the books, I can imagine them leaving the theatres a mite puzzled about the point of the title. The place that they have decided to split the movie actually seems rather perfect. It will definitely end on some action (which I expect they wanted, of course, to keep us on our toes) and will provide a nice set-up for Part 2. The Trio will know, now, about the Deathly Hallows, be prepared to get one of the last Horcruxes, and all of this “waiting” time with Voldemort will be over: he has what he wants, and the end is coming. Most importantly, it will allow Part 2 to really focus on the Battle of Hogwarts and beyond. I think that with all of the Harry Potter movies there is a (somewhat necessary) matter of sacrifice; which part of the books are we going to sacrifice this time? And this whole segment is one place where they could easily make a lot of people unhappy if they sacrifice too much. Having this extra time in Part 2 to spend on it could be really great if it means sacrificing less from one of the pinnacle points of this book.

Did you watch the Deathly Hallows trailer? If so, thoughts? If not, why not?

Absolutely! I watched each trailer as they were released, as if I had the self-control to stop myself from seeing those first peeks at the movie! Then, when they were released on MuggleNet, I watched the TV Spots. And, then I watched the first released clip. And the second….but as I began to see all of these clips being released I did get a little nervous. And then, I started seeing even more clips being released and got a little more nervous. So, I finally made the decision not to watch any more of these crazy clips. I’m all for the anticipation of the movie releases and, for me, a few teaser clips make it that much better! I don’t want to ruin anything for myself, though, and as anxious as I am to see the movie I’d rather see it all at once than in a mix-mashed series of 30-second clips. There are certain clips, too, that have been used rather frequently already–the Seven Potters scene, for instance–and I think that they might have been more effective in small doses. I can’t say for certain, of course, until I see the movie. ….Oh, I complain, but it’s still thrilling to see the sneak peeks of what will happen in the movie. I’m just learning some self-control while we’re at it. C:

Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is now less than one week away! How are you feeling, knowing that this movie marks the beginning of the end?

Awful! And wonderful! Part 1 is clearly going to be incredible, but the “end” seems so final. One of my favourite parts of the film series was the anticipation of the next movie: waiting the year until the next segment was released, waiting in line for hours upon hours until midnight struck, and experiencing the first showing in my city with two hundred people who love it as much as I do. That togetherness, as much as anything, has been incredible. I know that after the films are over I will still be in love with the books and experience Harry’s world on my own, I can’t help but wonder if it really will be the end; will Jo be writing another book after all? Will the franchise expand in other ways? That being said, I think that the movies have been wonderful, in their own way, but I’m glad that they will end strong. They’re really quite different from the books and, though I make a point never to strongly compare the two, I think that in many ways they avoided disaster. They could have destroyed Harry’s world and made complete mockeries of characters and places (Merlin knows that I’ve seen it happen to other books), but if anything they have made some aspects of that world stronger, more vivid, and more accessible. Steven Spielberg apparently wanted to make a cartoon version of the books, for example, and I would be afraid of something like this not doing the books justice and becoming the new face of Harry Potter, tarnishing it. Deathly Hallows: Part 1 may mark the beginning of the end, but I’m so glad to have been a part of this series of films (through the good and the bad).

Are you doing anything fun: having a party, dressing up, etc., for the big premiere of Part 1?

My Dad and I have a long-standing tradition that we see the first showing possible of the new movie. It used to be that we’d see it in the evening, but I got older (Keyword: old enough that I would be allowed to do this) and ambitious and now we wait in line (last year was 10 hours) for the midnight showing! Sitting on the clean-of-debris-but-certainly-not-dirt floor of the movie theatre is totally a party when you get all of these Harry Potter fans together. We’ve started really knowing each other for these once-a-year gatherings, as it’s really always the same people who are crazy enough to wait this long in line, and it just adds to that spectacular anticipation before the movie. Last year someone brought pumpkin pasties…half the fun is in experiencing the craziness with the other fans in line!

Is there a particular scene that you are looking forward to the most? One that you are dreading?

I’m really looking forward to seeing the Trio infiltrate the Ministry because there’s so much potential for detail in this scene. The Wizarding World has changed so much since Voldemort took over the Ministry and this seems like the first time that we’re really able to see it for ourselves. I’m hoping that the “Magic is Might” statue of the witch and wizard crushing Muggleborns will be included because it is so symbolic of the forced influence Voldemort is having on the Wizard World and could be such a powerful visual that it would be a shame to leave it out. The danger of Harry, Ron, and Hermione being in such close and familiar quarters with Death Eaters and being at the hub of the new regime of indoctrination is intensely dangerous, particularly when the Trio’s plan becomes complicated by the fact that in impersonating their Polyjuiced Ministry workers, their actions could have an unplanned effect on others (such as Ron’s “wife”). This, and Harry saving the Muggleborns from the trial, will be an incredible scene (…hopefully). I’m not really dreading a scene, but I am worried about how Kreacher will be portrayed in the film. There is no background with him and so I could see the filmmakers only showing his unhealthy side and not showing the change in his personality to save time. His transformation was really quite powerful to me because Kreacher was always loyal, a trait which these books place a high value on, but how could we expect him to be loyal to the ones who were cruel to him and he was taught to hate? Whereas Sirius Black treated Kreacher like scum on the bottom of his shoe, Regulus showed him trust. The shift in the way that he was treated was integral in his shift in personality. This really goes back to the previous films, though, and because there is no history with Kreacher the movie may not be able to depict how significant it was. I know that Kreacher appears in the film, and so I do hope that they’ve tried to tie this in properly.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I suppose that I just find it interesting that Kreacher’s attitude and opinions were largely a product of his environment. I could see the same being true for Draco Malfoy. He grew up in a pureblood family who very strongly supported the Dark Arts and the “purification” of the Wizarding World with a former Death Eater for a father. He was raised immersed in these beliefs and values, and it is difficult to escape that sort of childhood without having taken on some of these beliefs; indoctrination at its finest. Draco was placed in Slytherin, the House which he was raised to believe was the only one worth being in and which reflected the values of his family, and was again in an environment steeped in stigma against Muggleborns and supportive of the Dark Arts. At 16 in his sixth year, Draco was starting to become hesitant about the whole thing–anxious, scared, & hesitant about his ability to perform his task, aware that his family’s safety relies on him completing his mission–and I can’t help but wonder…if Harry had treated Draco differently at Hogwarts, instead of taking his personality at face value, if he would have turned out differently. Draco still made his own choices–he definitely made some bad ones–and maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference…as Albus Dumbledore once said, “it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” I wonder what Draco would have grown to be with more time, or under different circumstances?