Monday, July 4, 2011

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Let me just start off by saying that Harry Potter: The Exhibition was like a dream come true for me. I am so grateful that I was able to visit it at the Discovery Center in New York City. If you like Harry Potter, can get to NYC before September and have $25 to spare, GO. It will be worth it!

As someone who is interested in working in the film industry, this was one of the best opportunities that I could take advantage of. Not only was I able to take a look at the world of my favorite series, but I was also able to see how some truly talented designers and technicians brought it to life on the big screen. 

It's hard to say what my favorite parts were because I loved it all, but if I had to choose, I'd say Hermione's Yule Ball gown, the sword of Godric Gryffindor, the creatures (which includes Buckbeak, Fawkes, and a few House Elves!) and .... oh I can't pick anything else out... It's all so cool! Of course I had a special appreciation for the costumes. The design and craftsmanship are simply superb. I was surprised to find out that Emma Watson is really very tiny, maybe even smaller than me (and I'm 5'2" and weigh about 110 lbs.). Snape wears midnight blue rather than black, and the Weasley Twin's school robes show some signs of explosions! Ron's clothes are really that terrible, and his dress robes are just as lacy and horrid in real life. Hagrid is also huger than you can imagine, but as soon as I saw his display, I just wanted to give him a big hug. The Quidditch robes were quite good too, and it was cool to see how they were inspired by old rugby pads and modern day sports uniforms.

These wanted posters contain tiny, yet accurate print!
Something that is probably a huge part of what makes the movie series such a success is the level of detail put into every last element of design. For Christmas this past year, I was given a book entitled Harry Potter Film Wizardry which was all about the making of the films. This book was not only a wonderful resource for an in depth look at the kinds of things displayed at the exhibition, but was in and of itself an example of dedication to detail on behalf of the team of graphic designers who worked on the movies and also compiled the book. This ethic is echoed completely in the sets, props, and costumes displayed currently in NYC. There are things that can only be fully appreciated in person; details that can't be observed on film but have been painstakingly put there anyway. What an inspiration!

The touristy bits of the exhibition were pretty ok. As you enter the attraction three people are sorted by a replica sorting hat. As much as I longed to hear the hat cry out "GRYFFINDOR" as it sat on my head, I let the younger children in the crowd have a go at it. I did get to hear the hat cry out my house though -  three times. It would have been nice for some variety, but I expect that most small children don't really have an idea of what their house is yet, so it's to be expected (and yes, the hat is rigged to say whatever you tell the attendant your favorite house is). The two interactive parts of the exhibition, pulling up mandrakes and throwing quaffles trough scoring hoops were simple, but fun for the kids. Sitting in Hagrid's chair was cool (my brother and I both fit in with room to spare). The gift shop at the end was indeed overpriced, but I came away with a nice mug and a magnet for about $15. The audio tour, which costs $6-7 is an ok feature, but I wouldn't do it again. It's billed as a worthwhile addition to the regular attraction for any serious fan who wants to know every last detail, but as a "serious fan" I don't feel like I learned a whole ton. The audio tour also holds the crowd up at certain points where there are a few things to listen to clustered together. If you really want to do it, try to look for the numbers to punch into the audio device before you're actually in front of the exhibit. That way you can listen while you wait and not hold the line up.

I really enjoyed Harry Potter: The Exhibiton, and would love to go back! If you can make it, go. It's a terrific opportunity and worth every cent of the admission price!


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    the way things are described are pretty amazing....keep it up dude!!