Harry Pot­ter’s last hur­rah

It’s rub­ble, rub­ble, toil and trou­ble as the world’s best-known wizard pre­pares to face his demons for the fi­nal time, writes Neala John­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

IN its glory days, Hog­warts’ Great Hall was filled with the chat­ter of 350 stu­dents. To­day, it lies in ru­ins.

Rub­ble is strewn around the en­trance. Step in­side and higher mounds of rub­ble fill the hall. Now, rather than a place to feed kids, it has be­come a triage cen­tre for the ca­su­al­ties of the last great battle be­tween good ( Harry Pot­ter and his fel­low stu­dents) and evil ( Volde­mort and his grow­ing army of bad­dies).

Some­one movie­go­ers have loved for the past decade will die in this room.

Once the cen­tre of the Pot­ter uni­verse, the Great Hall lay dor­mant for a year while Harry Pot­ter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was film­ing.

When Part 2 be­gan rolling, it was de­stroyed and filled with fake rub­ble.

Then, be­cause of ac­tor avail­abil­ity, the crew had to re­build it. Then they trashed it again.

There are sights like this all over Leaves­den – the stu­dio an hour’s drive from Lon­don that the fran­chise has called home for more than 10 years.

Last time eguide was here, we had a sticky-beak in­side Harry and Ron’s Gryffindor dorm room. The dorm is no longer, re­placed by a dragon arena. Just across the way was Dum­ble­dore’s of­fice, filled with por­traits, books and po­tions. All that re­mains now is his ‘‘ pen­sieve’’ – that bird bath-look­ing keeper of mem­o­ries.

Turn a cor­ner and step through a mag­i­cal por­trait of Dum­ble­dore’s sis­ter and there is an­other sign of trauma. The Room of Re­quire­ment has be­come a hide­out – this is where the kids of Hog­warts locked them­selves away while Harry, Ron and Hermione went road-trip­ping in The Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

There are swags on the floor, ham­mocks hung from the ceil­ing, a black­board filled with plans and ev­ery­thing from a recorder to hair brushes and shoes lit­tered around the room.

If you didn’t know the tale of Harry Pot­ter was com­ing to an end be­fore, one look at Leaves­den in this state makes it crys­tal clear.

Fol­low­ing the noise, we trudge through the mud to find the As­tron­omy Court­yard – burnt out and partly de­stroyed. This will be a cen­tre­piece of what will be the fi­nal Pot­ter film. It is here that the battle be­gins.

On one side, Maggie Smith ( Pro­fes­sor McGon­a­gall) is backed by a sea of kids; on the other is Volde­mort’s mot­ley crew.

The cast – Emma Wat­son, Bon­nie Wright, Matt Lewis, Evanna Lynch, War­wick Davis – file in to join the 35 adult ex­tras, 102 young peo­ple and 20 stand-ins al­ready on set.

One of the stand-ins mimes an ab­sent Ralph Fi­ennes’ lines as Volde­mort, goad­ing the side of good. ‘‘ Harry Pot­ter is no hero,’’ he bel­lows. ‘‘ From this day forth you put your faith in me!’’

Volde­mort calls for Draco Mal­foy ( played by Tom Fel­ton) to cross over to his side.

Not needed on set, Harry ducks out of the rain and si­dles up to eguide. Turn­ing his back on the ac­tion, Daniel Rad­cliffe grins and says: ‘‘ I know all this, I don’t need to see it again.’’

The scene has been stut­ter­ing along all day, the crew grab­bing shots be­tween bouts of rain. But Rad­cliffe has been liv­ing with it a lot longer.

‘‘ This scene is cursed or some­thing,’’ he says, shak­ing his head. ‘‘ We’ve been film­ing this scene now over eight months on and off, com­ing back and back and back to it in all states of weather – snow, rain, sun.

‘‘ Ev­ery time we come to it there’s al­ways a hitch some­where along the line. But it will be an amaz­ing scene.’’

What is Rad­cliffe feel­ing right now, only a few weeks out from leav­ing Leaves­den and Pot­ter be­hind for good?

‘‘ It’s all a bit of a whirl­wind at the mo­ment. A bit hec­tic and all over the place would be how I would de­scribe my state of mind at the mo­ment. I can’t be­lieve it’s com­ing to an end, it’s bizarre,’’ he says.

At this point, di­rec­tor David Yates calls cast and crew back into ac­tion. Rad­cliffe low­ers his voice and whispers, like David At­ten­bor­ough spy­ing on a pride of lions: ‘‘ Let’s all watch.’’

When Yates calls cut, Rad­cliffe, ever con­sid­er­ate, ex­plains what’s go­ing on.

‘‘ This par­tic­u­lar bit, Volde­mort gives a call to arms and of­fers a bit of an amnesty. He says ’ Any­body who wants to swap sides, now is your time’. So it’s a call to ev­ery­body on that side of the court,’’ he ges­tures off to the left, ‘‘ who’s fight­ing for Hog­warts, to join him.’’

It’s good to see Rad­cliffe up close and, er, breath­ing – ear­lier in the day, in an­other nook of Leaves­den, we’d stum­bled across him . . . in a body bag. It may have been a Harry dummy made of sil­i­con skin but it was spook­ily re­al­is­tic. Rad­cliffe nods in grave agree­ment. ‘‘ It’s the fact they keep it in that bag that makes it so much worse. I saw it and I was like, ’ Oh, wow, I look quite good, that’s fine’. It is slightly odd I s’pose, but it’s one of those things you be­come more and more ac­cus­tomed to see­ing and less sur­prised by.’’

By this time, Yates has moved along to the sec­ond part of the scene – here Matt Lewis, as nerdy Neville Longbottom steps for­ward and de­fends Harry’s hon­our. He sparks a chain of events that lead to what Rad­cliffe de­scribes as ‘‘ a 20-minute battle . . . well, about that’’.

The stu­dents turn and run back into Hog­warts, pos­si­bly for the last time. Is this the end of Harry Pot­ter as Rad­cliffe imag­ined it?

‘‘ Pretty much as I imag­ined from the script, cer­tainly,’’ he says, stick­ing with mat­ter-of-fact over wist­ful­ness.

‘‘ Once the script is out, I don’t go back to the books too much. But, yeah, . . . it’s as epic and as fright­en­ing and dark as it needs to be.’’

HARRY POT­TER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2 Mid­night screen­ings at Vil­lage Cin­e­mas statewide on July 13

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