A little over thirty years ago, during a train journey, a semi-unknown British writer created with a brilliant flash what would later become one of the most famous fantasy sagas for children of all time. The extraordinary adventures of the wizard with glasses born from the mind of JK Rowling are part of those works of fiction that have already left, and will leave in the future, a sequel that is almost impossible to quantify. And, as often happens, from success comes more success: throughout the first decade of the twenty-first century eight feature films based on the entire saga have kept company to millions of die-hard fans who could not wait to see the wonders they had read about only transposed to the screen. Now, more than ten years later, another magic could happen: the HBO platform has confirmed the production of a TV series that should faithfully follow the seven books of the saga Harry Potter like never seen before. It only remains to ask: are we facing an announced disaster or a possible masterpiece? I do not know, but the truth is that the series dedicated to Harry Potter scares me mad. But at the same time I’m super excited.
Let’s start from a comforting premise: HBO, if it puts its effort into it, is able to stage true masterpieces. After all, we are talking about the production behind products such as Chernobyl, House of the Dragon, The Last of Us, Euphoria; all TV series considered by the majority of the public and high-level critics. We also know, however, that quality expectation is not synonymous with quality itselfand the truth is that when it comes to Harry Potter (or more generally fantasy) it often feels like playing a game of chess blindfolded. Even better, an archery challenge: you shoot at random hoping to hit your target. And too many times the arrow failed to hit him.
Just think of all the TV series based on sagas or fantasy novels that we would have liked to see on the screen, products that have either never been seen yet or have ended up becoming a big hole in the water (yes, Shadowhunters, I talk to you). If it is true that fantasy is a difficult genre to transpose (you need large productions, huge budgets, the desire to test yourself with the very high possibility of displeasing someone), successful exceptions are very few. The film adaptation of Peter Jackson based on the saga de The Lord of the Rings is an example of this: a good production, attention to detail and above all an almost perfect relevance to the reference novels. Also because one of the things that makes book-eaters turn up their noses the most is when a series or a film drastically distances itself from the work it wants to transpose; spoiler: it (almost) never works.
The film saga of Harry Potterfirst, it is not without criticism. Although it was nothing short of complex to transpose one of the most multifaceted, varied, intricate and complex sagas of the most recent fantasy genre to the screen, the most ardent fans still do not forgive the production for several missteps. Before all, the simplification (many times absolutely necessary) made in the comparison of novels that have made tiny details, subtexts and wonderful hidden meanings their strengths.
And it is precisely that the HBO series could arrive at a straight leg and succeed where the films have not been able to arrive: give space to the little things, the points of light and shadow that have made Rowling’s books the masterpieces they are. What am I telling you, there is plenty of material: from the events set during the youth of the Marauders to the personal story of Severus Snape, from a insight due to the life of Voldemort to a possible insight into the history of the four founders of Hogwarts, Harry Potter full of interesting ideas. And if the series were to actually be based on the seven books in the saga, the branches are just as full of potential (perhaps too much). Finally, the right space would be given to everything that, due to production and adaptation needs, has been cut or abruptly simplified in cinematographic films. Characters only mentioned or even never appeared (Ludo Bagman, Winky, Barty Crouch Jr), stories full of wonder unjustly neglected (the love between Tonks and Lupine, the deep and beautiful feeling that unites Harry and Ginny) or simply the basic meanings of the whole story that inevitably end up changing or simplifying on a screen.
If you were to ask anyone who has only seen the films of Harry Potter the deep and fundamental reason why Harry finally manages to defeat Voldemort, he probably wouldn’t be able to answer. This because there is almost always a gap, a crack that separates the magic of the book from that of the film. Magic that is difficult to recover.
Difficult but not impossible. That is why, despite everything, the series will be awaited with hearts pounding and eyes shining. The passion is there, it has never gone away, but the expectations are high and the risk is even higher. We’ll just have to wait, see, and pray that the writers decide to do what the writing crew did back in the day. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: honor a story for the sake of the story itself, Nothing more and nothing less. Not only Harry Potter: Literature is full of wonderful fantasy just waiting to be placed on a table, dismembered and put back together to create something sublime. It’s true that it’s not enough just to want it, but you have to start somewhere.
After all, the Dumbledore of the movies taught us something important: writing is truly the highest form of magic. Able to both cause pain and relieve it.