Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Harry Potter (Part One)

I went to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter with my brother, sisters, niece and nephews. I can't vouch for the young folk, but we big kids absolutely loved it!

Scarey Sis was impressed with the fact that many of these are the real sets in which the films were shot: the potions' room; the Gryffindor common room; Dumbledore's office; the Ministry of Magic etc.

We saw the flying car and the cupboard under the stairs, then we were ushered into a cinema where we watched a short film presented by Harry, Ron and Hermione, before the screen lifted to reveal the doors to the Great Hall.

Volunteers were invited top open the doors (Niece Rachel was one of them) and we all oohed and ahed as we entered the hall, set up for a banquet, with some of the actors' costumes dotted about.

From the beginning I was impressed with the level of detail; the coat of arms in the fireplace (which was never seen in the films because there was always a fire in the grate); or the intricate carvings on Dumbledore's lectern or Mad-Eye Moody's staff.

A quote from J.K. Rowling read, "No story lives unless someone wants to listen", and the interpretation must delight her, down to the minor details - faces in the tapestry; ice sculptures and chocolate treats for special feats; the winged stone boars atop the Hogwarts' gates inspired by the Il Pocellino statue in Florence.

Wigs and costumes were on display, as was the Mirror of Erisea and a cabinet of wands.

The proclamations of things that became forbidden are in a corner, nailed against the wall with a tall stepladder before them, and the portrait of the fat lady who guards the Gryffindor Tower smirks from another wall.

Within the dormitory, a West Ham duvet cover marks out Dean Thomas' bed. In the Gryffindor common room are portraits of past heads of the house, including a spectacular oil painting of Dame Maggie Smith in younger days - that's the level of detail I was admiring.

Detail in the Potions' classroom

Tools of magic in the wand case
The Mirror of Erisea
The corridor of the Three Broomsticks and the entrance to Dumbledore's office are all there. In the office itself are portraits of sleeping wizards and the cabinet of memories for the pensieve.

I liked Hagrid's Hut, the detail on the Gringotts' bank vault doors, the statue outside the Ministry of Magic (like something by Rodin carved out of stone) and the moving staircase. Who am I kidding; I liked all of it!

The door to the Chamber of Secrets
Moving staircases - better than Escher?
Detail on door of Gringotts' bank vault
Big video displays explained the technology of green screen filming of sequences such as Quidditch. The mechanics of the broomstick are on show, and you can queue for an hour to have your picture taken flying above various scenes. We didn't (but we saw some evidence of those who had, and it looked really cool!) 

I loved the Burrow - the Weasley's home - where you could press buttons to make the ironing, the washing up and knitting do themselves. There was also a clock which indicated the location of all the Weasleys ranging from 'home'. 'school', 'quidditch', 'garden', and 'work', to 'lost', 'in transit', and 'in mortal peril'.

Weasley's magical family clock
I also loved Dolores Umbridge's office which uses pink in the most evil way you've ever seen, and is hung with plates depicting far-from-innocent fluffy kittens.

The Ministry of Magic
The death eaters (masks and mannequins) were scary. I said to Scarey Sis that I wouldn't like to be shut in there overnight for fear that they might come to life and terrorise me. She says I've got an excessive imagination.

The case containing the paperwork was also a favourite of mine. There were some of the letters addressed to Harry Potter in the cupboard under the stairs; the Owl examination questions; a copy of The Quibbler (with Free Spectrespecs); some of the Weasley brothers' wizard wheezes (including a boxing telescope and a decoy detonator); Gilderoy Lockhart's self-promotion books; and the Marauder's Map with the Room of Doom, Poisoned Vermin Trap, and Prowling Passage clearly marked.

The Marauder's Map

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