Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Culture: The Making of Harry Potter

Some may contest me calling Harry Potter culture, but for my generation, it certainly was a hugely influential book series. I have not seen a book that has sparked the same reaction from children and adults alike since the inception of Harry P - Twilight and the 50 Shades books have die-hard fans, but there are just as many haters for these (rightfully so, in my opinion). It is hard to find someone who has not read or watched a Harry Potter book or film, and even harder to find someone who didn't like it.

For Christmas, Maxx and I were bought tickets for the Warner Brothers Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter (thanks Auntie S and Uncle D). We were super excited about this as Harry P fans, and set off eagerly on Sunday lunchtime ready to embrace the wizarding world.

In short, it was FASCINATING. The skill of making thousands of props and costumes and masks was astounding, and I was constantly thinking "Someone made this!?". There were some really interesting facts, such as Hagrid is not always Robbie Coltrane onscreen, but 6ft10 former rugby player Martin Bayfield wearing a mechanized mask. I also noticed some of the static paintings from Hogwarts looked remarkably like famous former monarchs - a portrait of a young Mary I, except in this one she's holding a wand, and also Henry VII.

There were over 4000 people who worked on these films, including makeup artists, sculptors, animal trainers, actors, set designers, directors, etc. It's hard to comprehend the magnitude of the effort that went into these films, but the Tour really showcased this. Unsurprisingly, as an animal nut, I loved the board detailing the animal actors - even better was that most of them were rescue animals, which they spent a few months with, getting to know them before they started training.

One of my favourite rooms was Dumbledore's office, as I love the scenes with the pensieve, as well as a miniature of the Leaky Cauldron which uses optical illusions to make you think it's 50ft long.

For us, travelling there was very easy, taking just over an hour. Prices can be found here. The first 20 minutes are spent with a guide getting everyone revved for the tour, and watching a short video with Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe, but after that you go round at your leisure. Apparently, people have been there just 45 minutes, to 10 hours - we were there for 3 hours. We did stop briefly for a butterbeer, which was delicious! It tasted like caramel and vanilla.

It was a fantastic day out and I would recommend it to people of all ages. Even if you aren't the biggest Harry P fan, you can't fail to appreciate the effort and skill that went into creating this magical world.

Have a fun, safe New Year's Eve everyone.


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