Snape, Snape, Severus Snape

There’s nothing unusual about seeing college students out and about into the earliest hours of the morning, but when they’ve swarmed the streets with lump-filled throats and perhaps even a few tears still visible, one can take it as an indicator that something big is happening.

At half-past 2, on the morning of July 15, such a scene was the norm as audiences drifted from nearby theaters, still a bit shell-shocked with the realization that had just witnessed the triumphant conclusion to a more than 10-year effort and multibillion dollar franchise. Hours before, students flocked to any theater they could reach with a singular goal: to return once more to the magical world of Harry Potter and see how the rendering on the silver screen matched up to individual interpretations of the series’ countless readers.

It is the end of an era, and this is one that strums heavily on nostalgic heartstrings. With a buzz bigger than the one that surrounded a rapidly approaching Y2K, the final installment in the film adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s acclaimed Harry Potter series opened Friday morning to theaters crowded with those who grew up on the novels. For Cailin Sakaue, who graduated from UC Berkeley this past May, the experience was unquestionably sentimental. Her Potter passion started right from the beginning—reading the original British release of “Sorcerer’s Stone”  (U.K. title, “Philosopher’s Stone”) with her then 11-year-old brother brought the magic to life.

Along with countless others, Sakaue stood in lines for more than four hours at the AMC theater in Emeryville before taking a seat for the midnight showing. The wait was far from dull, however, as the crowds kept things lively with spontaneous outbreaks of song and the occasional “duel” between fans masquerading as Potter’s colleagues at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Of course, this level of enthusiasm is nothing new for the student community in Berkeley. Cal has its own quidditch team and Harry Potter DeCals are among the more talked-about courses at a university typically known for its Nobel laureates and cutting-edge research.

Rising junior Caroline Wurden, for instance, doesn’t let her physics major get in the way of leading the UC Berkeley quidditch team. With more than six hours every week devoted to practice and planning for the team with her co-captain Sean Robbins, Wurden’s dedication stems from more than a decade of pre-ordering books and attending midnight release parties.

A true fan, she attended “Deathly Hallows: Part 2” in her hometown of Los Alamos, New Mexico, dressed as Fluffy, the three-headed dog made famous in the very first Potter novel. “I’ve literally grown up with these characters, so I care a lot for them,” said Wurden. “The last movie marks the end of my childhood. I’m sad of course, but the messages in the books will stand the test of time, and there will always be people who enjoy them.”

Quidditch co-captain Sean Robbins and his fellow teammates were invited to an advanced screening of the final film after participating in a promotional quidditch match last Saturday. This, however, did nothing to stop a handful of particularly enthusiastic players from donning their jerseys once more and joining the masses at the UA Berkeley 7 theater for the midnight premier on the 15th.

Whether it was the draw of the crowd or the allure of reliving the magic one more time that brought the quidditch team back for a second viewing (as so many others plan to do with this final film), no one can definitively say. It’s as if the fantasy surrounding Harry Potter can’t help but to permeate our muggle world, and those who’ve fallen under Rowling’s spell don’t seem to be letting go anytime soon.

Image Source: megadem under Creative Commons

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