Harry Potter: The Exhibition – Paris, France
by Marion Delaunay
Paris, France, was the 13th stop for the Exhibition, hosted at the Cité du Cinéma. It ran from April 4, 2015, until September 6, 2015.
I had the chance to attend the Exhibition press preview on behalf of MuggleNet, was able to meet the Phelps twins and had a private tour of the Exhibition with commentaries by MinaLima, the graphic designers of the Harry Potter series.
We were asked to be at the Cité du Cinéma by 5pm, for the blogger preview of the Exhibition, we arrived there by 4:30 and were able to check in our belongings, meet some fellow reporters, and enjoy the atmosphere of the hall, which was towered by a beautiful rendition of the Hogwarts Castle on a large part of the wall, with lights illuminating some windows, and all of the movie posters near the entrance. As soon as we came in, we were immediately surrounded by that magic atmosphere, especially with the music from the Potter films!
After wandering around for a bit and getting sorted into Slytherin by the Sorting Hat, we were called back in the hall for the meet-and-greet with James and Oliver Phelps. It came by very quickly, I wish I could’ve asked some questions, but there were many people waiting behind me, and so little time! I asked James about his time in Paris, and even advised him to go see some Quidditch if he had some time! I got a picture and my book signed, which I’m very happy about!
MinaLima then lead us through the exhibition, explaining the manufacturing of some props and telling some stories. We started off with the Sorting Hat ceremony, then with a montage of movie scenes, and as soon as it ended, a curtain opened to reveal a part of the steaming Hogwarts Express, and an employee dressed as a Gryffindor student lead us to the next room, where a loudly singing Fat Lady welcomed us into the Gryffindor dormitory, which was surrounded by props belonging to Harry and his friends, such as a couple of outfits, books, Neville’s tap dancing shoes or even a copy of the Quibbler. The Marauder’s Map was also there, and MinaLima explained that they had wanted to create something according the the characters’ personalities and creativity, even if we don’t see much of them in the movies, with words instead of drawings, a special folding process (they didn’t want it to look like some kind of rolled up treasure hunting map), and also that the map represents the exact architecture of Hogwarts. There was also some technical issues, for example, they had to replicate the map with a photocopier, so they had to think of a clever way to be able to manufacture ten copies of the map for the next day quickly if needed. At this point, I was so enchanted with the Exhibition I couldn’t stop smiling, because the Marauders are my favorite characters and I’m always so happy to learn more about them. We then rushed past Hagrid’s hut, the Dark Arts room and the Forbidden Forest to the last part of the Exhibition (hopefully we had another half hour to go through the exhibition again), so that MinaLima could talk to us about different props they
made, like Rita Skeeter’s biography about Dumbledore, which they intended to make cheap-looking, with very thin, almost see-through pages and clashing colors, on JK Rowling’s demand for it to look like some kind of airport book. They also talked about the fact that they also had the chance to design some 3D props, including the Horcruxes or the Goblet of Fire, but also an incredible Quidditch game, which wasn’t featured in the films, but is an absolute jewel! The crowd of reporters all agreed that it would be amazing to make it a real game and sell it. The making of the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes products was also very interesting, because MinaLima explained that it was heaven for them when they were told that they had to create products for a 4-stories joke shop and that there were absolutely no rules… It was fun for them to put themselves in the Weasley twins’ shoes and think like teenagers in rush to sell a lot of fun products, hence the vivid, clashing colors and « quickly made » designs. After talking a bit about the beautiful limited print made especially for the Paris Exhibition, it was time for MinaLima to go, and us to go back and have a closer look !
I was really pleased with the setting of little « classrooms » for each professor, with costumes, props, and even a funny game for the Herbology class, where you could pull out mandrakes just like in the Chamber of Secrets. A bit further, we could see a display of beautiful Quidditch robes, but also broomsticks (it was very interesting to see a Nimbus 2000 on scale) and flyers… I wished we could have such amazing training clothes and accessories for the Parisian Quidditch teams! The next room was Hagrid’s hut, and I loved the fact that we had to actually go through it, and se how everything was larger than what you would find in a regular house.
Then, everything went darker, and even a bit colder (or was that just my imagination ?), when we entered a room where a part of the Forbidden Forest was displayed, with some of its inhabitants, such as a child of Aragog, the Hungarian Horntail, a centaur… which lead us to what would be my favorite room of all : The Dark Arts. I was totally blown away by how much detail the artists put into the creation of the Death Eater masks and outfits, and Voldemort’s robe was also impressive, surrounded by darkness and gloomy music. I also liked the path that led to the next room, with black, labyrinthy-like walls with Death Eater’s Wanted posters and long, creepy vines here and there. We were then greeted by a set of various props, including Sirius’ Azkaban outfit, the horcruxes contained in a glass case, but also for the first time in the Exhibition, some pieces from the real life wizard chess featured in Chamber of Secrets. On our way to the Great Hall, the last stop of our tour, outfits of the Battle of Hogwarts were displayed, with the sword of Gryffindor next to Neville’s famous cardigan.
I really enjoyed the Exhibition, especially because I was able to see all of those props that were created for the films, and that we don’t particularly notice because they’re part of the background. I recommend it to all muggles and wizards, and I will certainly go back to spend some more time observing every little detail, and maybe successfully score another ten points at Quidditch!