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“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” – J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter fans across the world were once again able to call Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry home. 

Fans of the series, known as Potterheads, were able to relive the magic of Hogwarts when the cast and crew gathered together for a reunion. The reunion marked 20 years since the first film, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was released. 

Return to Hogwarts, the nearly two-hour special available on HBO Max, gives fans, like myself, the opportunity to see the cast together again as they share their fondest memories of the series. 

The special begins with the actors receiving a letter to the reunion, a nod to the well-known Hogwarts letter that students receive on their 11th birthday to join the wizarding school. The opening of the special alone creates a nostalgic feel for fans, as glimpses of the Hogwarts Express and the familiar music of the films bring fans back to where the magic all began. 

The majority of the special takes place in the cozy Gryffindor common room, where the golden trio of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ronald Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) chat and reminisce about the movies. Just seeing the three actors together again, laughing and sometimes crying tears of joy, brings a smile to Potterheads alike. 

In addition to the Gryffindor common room, fans also see recognizable places such as Dumbledore’s Office, The Burrow and The Great Hall. Potterheads are taken on the ultimate journey from the first movie right to the last, as the actors and directors provide their memories from each film.

The special is also filled with on-set secrets, such as James Phelps (Fred Weasley) breaking director Mike Newell’s ribs while filming Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Additionally, the special reveals Watson’s childhood crush on Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) and Radcliffe’s admiration and crush towards Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange).

While it was heartwarming to see the cast and crew reflect on the series, it was even more touching to see them pay tribute to the actors who have passed. Dedications were paid to actors Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), Richard Harris (Albus Dumbledore in the first two films), Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley) and Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy). Hearing the actors talk so fondly about their late fellow co-stars shows how much of a family the Harry Potter actors really were. 

Overall, Return to Hogwarts is a remarkable special filled with touching moments, never-before-seen footage and inside secrets from the cast and crew. Whether you are a new fan, or a diehard Potterhead, the special is sure to leave you feeling happy, and even inspired to rewatch the films. Even though 20 years have passed since the first film, the magic and wonder of Harry Potter remain for fans everywhere. 

Julia is a first year journalism student at Ryerson University.
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