Unlike The Greater Good and The OMEn Chronicles, which have 1.4 and 1.1 million views respectively, this fan film has significantly fewer views at 42,000, despite being on YouTube longer (since 2012).
It’s called The Battle of Hogwarts, and the action of this fan film centers around (you guessed it) the Battle of Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. This fan film doesn’t have the big Hollywood budget that the 2011 Warner Brothers film had, so it goes without saying that the video and sound effects aren’t nearly as good. And yet, I still love this particular fan film. Why? I have my reasons, which I will share below the embedded film. Please watch first!
Setting: I don’t know where the filmmakers found themselves a real castle that they could use for filming (I mean, there are obviously significantly more castles in the UK than there are in the US, so I shouldn’t be surprised), but the location looks so good. It doesn’t look exactly like Hogwarts, but honestly, it looks close enough.
Visual and sound effects: Sure, the visual and sound effects aren’t all great. Honestly, though, the majority of the magical effects aren’t all bad either. My biggest criticism would be the images of Hogwarts (mostly 2D renderings). I understand that they’re trying to show the “good” witches and wizards protecting Hogwarts by casting the “Protego Maxima” spell that Molly Weasley begins casting in Deathly Hallows, Part 2, but they don’t necessarily have to show Hogwarts being covered by that spell for us to understand what’s going on. In fact, my guess is that 99% of viewers who’ve watched this fan film have already seen all the Harry Potter movies and would therefore recognize the spell.
One scene where I thought the visual effects were relatively well done was the scene that showed the “Protego Maxima” spell working from the inside of the castle. All we see is light shimmering down through the window. More scenes like that–where the magical effects are generally obstructed by “real” walls and other objects–would have worked well to show “Protego Maxima” working, rather than show the fake-looking Hogwarts castle from a distance.
Scenes like that–those that don’t look real–distract us and take us out of the film. Actually, Hollywood films–even with their big-budget special effects–can sometimes take us out of their films too. As much as they try to make us “suspend disbelief”, we know that what we’re watching isn’t real, because of this thing called celebrity. The more we see our favorite celebrities in films, the more we think of them as actors playing characters rather than characters living their stories.
Actors: And that is what I love about this film. We have no idea who the actors and actresses are, so we’re generally not distracted by them. In fact, this makes me think about how it wasn’t only the heroes and other (mostly adult) characters that we know who fought at the Battle of Hogwarts, but we can assume that there were also so many students that we don’t know who likewise found themselves in the middle of the fighting–anywhere from seventh years to first years. That’s what also strikes me about this film: there are so many very young actors and actresses.
Filming: The anonymity of the actors and actresses, as well as their relatively young age, helped me to suspend disbelief. Additionally, the way The Battle of Hogwarts was filmed–the quality was little better than a home video–also helped me to suspend disbelief. It was as if I was seeing real kids fighting for their lives. Granted, going back to the magical effects, there was a spell in particular–the slow-motion one–that looked really bad and distracted me again, but for the most part, this film, somehow, just felt so real to me. We see how a real battle affects real students. Even after they’ve grown old, we see how the memories of the battle continue to affect them…
Ending: And that is what I love most about this film. I wasn’t expecting the ending: the girl planting the flower, and as we look up, we see her as a grown woman, reminiscing about those who died on that “battlefield”. The entire film is so dark, so gray and colorless, but the ending is so “cautiously” bright and colorful. I say “cautiously”, because while we see the sun shining, the grass and trees green, and the flowers blooming, we also see this woman, distraught, on the verge of despair, remembering those who, unlike her, did not live to see that day. The music (which was another awesome part of this film) remains in the last scene as cheerless as it was in the beginning. Hogwarts looks so hopeful in that last scene, but we are also keenly aware of the price that was paid to give Hogwarts a hope and a future.
Did you like this film? If yes, what did you like about it? Share in the comments!