Today I saw the last Harry Potter movie. It was excellent, and I greatly enjoyed it. I read the books as they all came out, but I am not an expert in the intricacies of wand lore and things like that. I came to the movie as a mere novice, but that was enough.
I was surprised at the strength of the movie's emotional impact. The overall story has unfolded in enough time and with enough stateliness to allow it to gather some real heft and meaning. This is ultimately the story of an orphaned boy and his long, painful process of understanding his parents and the world they lived in. The passions and jealousies that animated them and their peers.
What's strange to me now is how much I relate to the parents. Seeing Harry's ghostly parents promise him, in his hour of greatest danger, that they would be with him -- that they were always with him -- struck a deep chord. Ever since Alice was born I have been grappling with this new emotional force, the instant and primal love that propels so much of what I do nowadays, in one way or another. My mom told me, "You will kill for your kids," and boy, was she right. (Mrs. Weasley cursing the witch who was attempting to kill her daughter, moments before she dispatched her nemesis into the great beyond: "Not my daughter, you bitch!" Now I understand.) It's interesting to me to track my own experience with Harry Potter over the last decade or so, watching the easy, thoughtless narcissism of adolescence slough away, later to be replaced by the sweet, gnawing ache of parental love. It is about Harry and his gifts, but it's also about the ones who placed him there. The whole story changes.