An International Academic Conference Exploring the Cultural Influence of the Harry Potter Books and Films
Hosted by the University of Limerick Department of Sociology in collaboration with the UL Interaction Design Centre, Dept. of Computer Science and Information Systems.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Harry Potter Premiere Account!

At the World Premiere of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” in London.
Eleonora Mazza
(Thank you to Luigina Ciolfi for translating!!)

I am not very good at writing but giving a personal account is something that really excites me, therefore I will try and do my best! I am not sure if it is appropriate but the easiest way for me is to tell the story as if it were a diary entry, so here it goes J

My name is Eleonora and I am 27 years old, I am lucky to have a Dad who is kind, funny and loving and who agreed to accompany me in this adventure. I know that I might be considered too old for this, but I have a strong attachment to the Harry Potter books and films (although I began reading the series when Book 4 came out) because during a very bad period in my life, when the real world was too ugly, they made me think of other things and made me take flight happily between those pages. My mother passed away some years ago and one of the happy memories I have of her is when we went together to buy the Half Blood Prince: therefore you can understand how much this world is important to me.
Anyway, as soon as I heard about the world premiere of the film with all the actors and, above all, with J.K. Rowling, a little voice in my head went: “It’s the last chance to see them all together, you must be there”, and I booked my flights without hesitation J

I must say that it was a very lucky trip overall. I arrived the day before the premiere, decided to go for a look around Trafalgar Square and saw a sea of people who had been camping there for hours, or even days. I must say I had a moment of  dejection,  but then walking around the square I bumped into one of the policemen who were handing out the wristbands that would let a lucky few inside the restricted area in the square. Out of respect for my poor Dad, I decided to come back really early the following morning.

The weather was not promising at all, it was all grey, but you can expect that in London (and, as a matter of fact, they were preparing the lighting rig and the video cameras for any weather eventuality). On the plus side, what we could see looked fantastic: a beautiful stage crowned by an enormous version of the “Harry Potter” lettering, lots of flags with the faces of the main characters blowing in the wind, the symbols of the 4 Hogwarts Houses surrounding the square – it all looked wonderful. Entering the square from the right hand side, we sat down for a while but already around 10 o’clock everyone started to get to their feet and from that moment on we all crammed against each other.
The weather spared us for a very short time and soon a downpour started on everything that was on the ground: sleeping bag, chairs, thermal food containers. We stamped on anything and everything, on our feet under the pouring water until around 4 in the afternoon when finally something started to happen.

The media started to arrive and the technicians lit some huge and truly atmospheric torches. On the big screen, the movie trailer and some “behind the scenes” clips were being played on repeat. From the loudspeakers we could hear the voices of Voldemort and of the other characters, and sometimes the roars of broomsticks in flight. And at the very moment when the live TV coverage started, it stopped raining: perhaps a sign of destiny, who knows.

I was standing in the fourth row from the barriers (and managed to move to the third shortly after). The first to arrive was Rupert Grint - my favourite – and I proceeded to climb onto the shoulders of the saint who is my Dad...But unfortunately security made me come down L. From then on, it was a continuous pushing and calling for autographs: on books, soaked notebooks or photographs.

I managed to take some photos but unfortunately I was a bit too small and too far away to get any autographs. Everyone was very nice and friendly. Many of the actors stopped by several times during the ad breaks, and they seemed genuinely moved to receive so much love from unknown people. I must say that adrenalin contributed to make my memories quite confused: each actor walking down the red carpet meant both suffering (from being pushed and from standing on the tip of my toes) and elation. It is a strange feeling to see up close someone who you consider part of your life but who you don’t really know.

The most emotional moment was certainly when Daniel and J.K. Rowling gave their speeches. Also, Emma with her emotional outburst made me get quite tearful too, and not only that: the fact that it is all now over was really very sad. But I try to keep in mind what Dan and Jo said: “The stories we love the most live inside us forever. Whether you decide to come back through the pages of the books or through the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home”.

After the speeches, the TV coverage ended and all the actors went into the theatre to see the movie. The square was emptying and all the fans were trying to get a souvenir to take away with them, especially the posters that were hanging along the route from the square to the theatre. I admit that I was also trying and grab something: I didn’t succeed but, on the other hand, I found myself in the front row right in front of Emma Watson who was giving an interview. The people near me hadn’t noticed her yet but I had, I called out to her and then the others joined in. So she came near us to sign autographs. I can assure you that she was really moved and with tears in her eyes, she even hugged a girl who was crying and comforted her. She was really sweet and also she is really beautiful, believe me.
This was for me yet another bout of luck: I was really excited to be so near her, and getting her autograph made me really happy.

At this stage I was really done with after all the rain, the cold, the wind, the heat when the sun came out, the 13 hours standing (on my tiptoes to be precise) and having eaten only a cupcake since the morning. Around 9PM everything was really over and it was time to go back to the hotel. Security made us leave the square and there was nothing to see outside of the theatre anymore: it was time to go.

I went home exhausted and soaked but this was certainly one of the greatest days of my life. I will always remember it and all of this is thanks to only one person: J.K. Rowling. Thank you J

By the way, I really must thank my Dad who put up with me, supported me (even literally: holding me in the pushing crowd) and who, after all this effort, deservedly considers himself an honorary Gryffindor J

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