The beginning of the end: A generation says goodbye

By Emily Eiermann

eiermanne@theridernews.com


It has been nine years since Harry Potter first appeared on the big screen, and this next movie marks the end of an era as the first half of the last book makes its way to theaters. In order to celebrate today’s release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, here is a recount of the last six movies and books and the journey Harry takes as he learns and grows.

In The Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter begins as an orphan in his aunt and uncle’s home, verbally abused and locked away in a cupboard under the stairs. This is a far cry from the man he becomes as he learns about the wizarding world, his childhood fame and his destiny.
Here’s a list of the characters that are mentioned in each of the following synopses:
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe)
Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane)
Dudley Dursley (Harry Melling)
Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint)
Hermione Granger (Emma Watson)
Severus Snape (Alan Rickman)
Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart)
Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes)
Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright)
Sirius Black (Gary Oldman)
Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall)
Remus Lupin (David Thewlis)
Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson)
Viktor Krum (Stanislav Ianevski)
Fleur Delacour (Clémence Poésy)
Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton)
Dumbledore (Richard Harris, Michael Gambon)
Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton)
Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent)

Young Harry walks with his first friend, Ron.

The Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry’s life gets uprooted with the arrival of Hagrid, a half-giant who brings news that Harry has an alternate life waiting for him: he is a wizard. The neglected boy discovers that he is a celebrity in the wizarding world, and after a few pointed remarks by Hagrid (and an episode involving Harry’s cousin Dudley and a pig tail), he is allowed to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

There, Harry learns his way around this new world. He obtains a wand, attends classes and makes friends — most notably Ron Weasley, a redheaded boy he met on the Hogwarts Express, and Hermione Granger, the class genius whose friendship was forged after the two boys saved her from a troll.

The three partake in an adventure involving the Sorcerer’s Stone, which grants immortality. They believe that Professor Snape intends on stealing it from the school, and they encounter a series of challenges while trying to stop him,  including a giant three-headed dog, a violent chess game and eventually the stone itself. Harry discovers that Snape was not the culprit, but Professor Quirrell, who is sharing a body with Voldemort, the darkest wizard who ever lived.

A brief fight leaves Harry near death and the stone is destroyed.

Harry saves Ginny’s life in the chamber.

The Chamber of Secrets

Harry receives a visit over the summer from Dobby the house elf, who warns him not to return to Hogwarts. He ignores this and escapes from his house with the help of Ron and two of his brothers, who steal their father’s flying car and break him out.

Despite missing the train and having to take the car once more (which results in a fight with the Whomping Willow, a violent tree in the school’s forest), Harry and Ron make it safely back to Hogwarts.

Trouble arises when a threatening message appears on a wall — “The Chamber Of Secrets Has Been Opened. Enemies Of The Heir, Beware.” Soon, Harry starts hearing voices in the walls, muggleborns (those from non-magical descent) are attacked, and it is discovered that Harry is a parseltongue, giving him the rare ability to talk to snakes. It doesn’t take long for everyone to become suspicious of him.

The trio eventually discovers the truth: Ron’s sister Ginny was possessed by Voldemort after writing entries into his diary, and she had opened the chamber. Harry goes on to kill the basilisk, a large snake that petrifies anyone who looks into its eyes and whose voice had been taunting Harry from behind the walls. Harry manages to save both Ginny’s life and the school.

Harry pets Buckbeak after earning his respect.

The Prisoner of Azkaban

Mass murderer Sirius Black has escaped from the wizarding prison Azkaban and is after Harry. To prevent this, dementors (cloaked figures that feed on happiness) are called to guard the school. They have an unusual effect on Harry, who often faints near them.

At school, he overhears professors talking about his relation to Black, who is his godfather and allegedly betrayed the Potters and killed a man called Peter Pettigrew. He also meets Professor Remus Lupin, who teaches Harry how to protect himself from the dementors.

The truth about Black soon comes to light after Harry, Ron and Hermione sneak out to comfort Hagrid, whose pet hippogriff Buckbeak has been sentenced to death. On their adventure, they discover that Black is innocent and Pettigrew (who had transfigured himself into a rat and been kept as Ron’s pet) was to blame for the tragedies.

After a series of events involving Snape’s arrival, Lupin’s shapeshift into a werewolf and hordes of dementors intent on capturing Black, the trio ends up in the hospital. It is there that Harry discovers Hermione’s necklace, which allows them to go back in time and allow both Black and Buckbeak to escape.

Cedric puts his name into the Goblet of Fire.

The Goblet of Fire
Hogwarts is hosting the Triwizard Tournament. One student is picked from each wizarding school to participate in the competition: Cedric Diggory from Hogwarts, Victor Krum from Durmstrang and Fleur Delacour from Beauxbatons. However, somehow Harry’s name gets thrown into the goblet, and he is chosen as the unprecedented fourth competitor.

While trying to ignore the students’ loathing, Harry is forced to participate. The first challenge involves battling a dragon to steal an egg. For the second, he has to find and save Ron from the bottom of the lake, and ends up saving Delacour’s victim as well. The final task is a maze. Harry and Cedric arrive at the same time, and as they had both helped each other throughout the tournament, they agreed to share the victory and both grabbed a handle of the Triwizard Cup at the same time.

However, the cup ended up being a portkey, which transported the two to a graveyard where Voldemort was waiting. Cedric is promptly killed, and Harry’s blood is used to restore Voldemort to his former powerful state. The two battle, resulting in a connection between their wands that brings back the spirits of the dead. This earns Harry just enough time to escape back to Hogwarts.

Belllatrix casts a spell on Sirius Black.

The Order of the Phoenix
Harry spends a lot of his summer at headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, a secret organization fighting against Voldemort.

Eventually he gets to school, where he meets Professor Dolores Umbridge, who works for the Ministry of Magic and imposes strict rules to make sure everyone is under Ministry control. As she gains more power, Harry gathers a group of students named Dumbledore’s Army to rebel against her.

All the while, Harry has strange visions, which turn out to be linked to Voldemort’s mind. The villain realizes this and conjures one of Sirius Black (who is now considered family) in trouble. This leads to, after many complications, Harry and his friends flying to the Ministry to save him.

This is a trap, and a battle ensues between the students and a group of Death Eaters. The Order, Black included, arrives to help soon after. Government workers appear a little while later, but not before Black is killed.

In the end, Dumbledore reveals to Harry that a prophecy was made at his birth, informing him that neither can live while the other survives.

Dumbledore rests on the steps of Hogwarts.

The Half-Blood Prince
Death Eaters now largely control London. Harry sees Draco Malfoy, his rival since their first year, in a suspicious situation and vows to keep a close eye on him.

Throughout the year, Harry meets with Dumbledore, who shows him various memories he has of the young Voldemort. The most important memory he has, however, has been given and tampered with by Professor Slughorn. It is Harry’s job to obtain the original memory.

After many fruitless attempts, Harry manages this with the use of a luck potion, and he and Dumbledore discover that Voldemort has split his soul into seven parts (called Horcruxes).

The two go on a trip to destroy one part of it: a locket, located in an isolated cave. After some weakening tasks, including drinking a potion that seemed to torture Dumbledore, they retrieve it and return to Hogwarts, where Death Eaters are waiting.
Malfoy had been given the task of killing Dumbledore, but can’t follow through, so Snape takes over and kills him before leading the Death Eaters out.

At the end, Harry discovers that the locket is fake, and the trio decides to spend the next year finding the rest of the Horcruxes.

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