This week, it was twenty years since arguably one of the most successful fiction series began. This was followed by six other successful books and eight movies, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and the late Alan Rickman.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (alternatively called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) alone has sold over 100 million copies since it’s release. The series has been translated into over sixty languages and been distributed to over two – hundred countries worldwide.
I think it was about 2000 when I first read the first Harry Potter. I was about eleven (if my date is right). I remember thinking it was very good. Very imaginative. That was when the Harry Potter franchise boomed. I remember the parts about Harry’s parents were quite sad. I cried when I saw the movie near the end.
I liked the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets more. I just loved it; the mischief, the mystery and the overall plot was fantastic. The movie was equally as good.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had the greatest surprise, when Harry Potter found out who is godfather, Sirius Black, was falsely convicted of being ally of Voldemort (a.k.a He Who Must Not Be Named) and sent to serial wizard prison, Azkaban.
The fourth and fifth books; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows were also good and very well – written. To be frank, the sixth one Harry Potter and the Half – Blood Prince was my least favourite (and my least favourite of the movies). I think it dragged on too long and the end of the movie in particular was a downer. As a result, I haven’t bothered to read the seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the movies, which apparently is quite good, funnily enough. Since this anniversary, I might read it after all one day.
Of course, the series hasn’t been without its critics. In the height of Harry Potter’s fame, there was worry about its ‘promotion’ of witchcraft, something that is frowned upon in some religions, including some parts of Christianity. That was short – lived. Since I’ve read the books, I haven’t turned to witchcraft, so it’s all good, I guess.
Harry Potter has been a revolution in children’s literature and Rowling has been commended for sparking an interest of reading in young children. I think that’s a great achievement!
So, what makes the series so popular?
Here’s my take based on what I’ve read (which is all but the seventh).
Obviously the fantasy element was a big hit. Children have always been attracted to fantasy and magic. I remember that as a kid how popular Disney’s films were, many of which included magic. Beyond the magic, the overall fantasy of the books have been great and quite original.
Secondly, the characters, while fictional and largely witches and wizards, are characters that people can relate to. Everyone can relate to rebellious teens, friendships, high school competition and more. Plus, there are universal themes: good versus evil (that’s a controversial one, I know since some people think magic is bad period, but bear with me), friendships, betrayal, family, youth rebellion against authority and family are all themes explored in the books and movies.
I think it’s hard not to argue that the Harry Potter franchise is one of the most revolutionary series of fictional literature in the 21st century. It has sparked the imagination of young and old. I don’t think there will be another series that will be as influential as what Harry Potter was – not in the near future anyway.
What is your favourite Harry Potter book and/ or movie? Feel free to leave your thoughts below.