Don't Fear The Reaper
The Lesson: Death should not be feared
As Shown By: The theme of death is one that runs throughout the series. Death has cast a particularly long shadow over Harry’s life, and one of the most important facets of his Hogwarts journey is his gradual realisation that the hereafter is nothing to be feared. Indeed, it’s a fear of death that produces the Hogwarts ghosts, a group of souls too terrified of what comes next to fully pass over. Dumbledore (as ever) sums this theme up best when he says: “Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.”
Never Judge A Book...
The Lesson: People are skilled at disguising their inner selves
As Shown By: Throughout the series, Severus Snape is presented as the villain of the piece, a sneering, embittered bully nursing a poisonous vendetta against Harry. And then in Deathly Hallows , his motivations are revealed to be something else entirely, showing his actions to be born out of love rather than hate. Well, ok there’s still a fair bit of hate in there, but mainly love!
Books And Cleverness
The Lesson: Book smarts can only get you so far.
As Shown By: Feeling down in the dumps over the mounting expectations being heaped upon him, Harry is given a timely pep talk from Hermione. “You’re a great wizard you know,” she begins, before Harry protests that she’s a better one. “Me!” she exclaims. “Books! And cleverness! There are more important things – friendship and bravery.”
The Lesson: Michael Gambon is a better Dumbledore than Richard Harris
As Shown By: A controversial suggestion perhaps, but one that we would stand by. Harris plays up the headmaster’s more eccentric nature, but his Dumbledore is more twinkly old geezer than authoritative man of action. That may be down to the fact that Dumbledore has less to do in the first two films, but there’s no debating the wily vigour Gambon brings to the role. For our money, his performance is the definitive Dumbledore. Although neither of them are as loveable as the man on the page…
The Lesson: Good things come to those who wait.
As Shown By: Ron and Hermione finally sharing a passionate kiss in Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 , after seven films worth of squabbling, moping and pretending not to like each other. In Ron Weasley’s case, patience proves to be the ultimate virtue!
Mad, Bad & Dangerous
The Lesson: Nobody does unhinged like Helena Bonham Carter
As Shown By: Standing out amid a superlatively thespian cast, Helena Bonham Carter truly makes the character of Bellatrix Lestrange her own, playing the feared Death Eater with the sort of wide-eyed mania usually reserved for your average night bus. Voldemort might be the big bad, but when Bellatrix does for Dobby, she very nearly knocks the Dark Lord out of the spotlight….
The Lesson: Sometimes, the studio knows best.
As Shown By: When it was first announced that Deathly Hallows would be split into two halves, eyes were rolled, tempers were frayed and the decision was generally denounced as an exercise in money-spinning cynicism. Even Part One did little to change that impression, as attentions occasionally wandered from an action-light instalment. And then Part 2 turned up in all its explosive glory, proving that an attempt to cram Rowling’s epic conclusion into a solitary film would have been folly in the extreme.
The Lesson: Be suspicious of strange men lurking in the ladies toilets
As Shown By: Katie Bell falls foul of this one when she is given a mysterious necklace by Draco Malfoy in the toilets of the Three Broomsticks. The necklace turns out to be cursed, and poor Katie ends up with an nasty dose of agonising pain. Ouch.
The Lesson: Sometimes you can’t make it on your own
As Shown By: Throughout the saga, Harry continually feels as though he has to face his destiny alone, only for his friends to prove invaluable. One sequence in the first film proves this better than any other, with Ron and Hermione using their respective abilities (chess-playing and logic) to overcome the tasks standing between Harry and the Philosopher’s Stone.
The Lesson: You should always double-tap
As Shown By: Despite having painstakingly restored his power, raised an army of loyal followers and brought Hogwarts to its knees, Voldermort falls foul of the oldest cinematic mistake in the book. When he fires a killing curse at Harry in the depths of the forbidden forest, he doesn’t check to see if he’s really dead. Instead ,he’s happy to take Narcissa’s word for it, and ends up with egg on his face. As Zombieland taught us previously, you should always “double-tap” !
The Lesson: Virtue isn’t determined by ability but by choices
As Shown By: Harry and Voldemort’s respective paths are determined not by their capabilities as wizards (although both are extraordinarily proficient in that respect) but by the choices they make along the way. From his first day at Hogwarts, it's made clear by the Sorting Hat that Harry could be a successful Slytherin, should he so choose. “You could be great, you know,” says the hat, “and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that.” However, Potter’s heart is set on Gryffindor, just one of many occasions in which the Boy Who Lived takes a different path from the one chosen by Tom Riddle.
The Power Of Love
The Lesson: A capacity for love is the greatest attribute of all.
As Shown By: It is Voldemort’s inability either to love or to comprehend its power that prevents him from killing Harry the first time around. As Dumbledore puts it, “If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.”
Beware The Troll
The Lesson: There’s no better way of bonding than taking on a massive troll
As Shown By: Harry and Ron have been squabbling with Hermione, only to patch things up when they band together to outwit the troll in Philosopher’s Stone . As Rowling puts it, “there are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.” Amen to that.
The Lesson: Never tickle a sleeping dragon
As Shown By: I t’s the Hogwarts school motto! It doesn’t really need much further explanation, suffice to say that it’s bloody good advice.
Confidence Is Key
The Lesson: You can achieve anything with self-belief
As Shown By: Throughout the books and films, confidence is presented as a key component of magical proficiency. Hermione is an excellent witch because not only does she study hard, but she believes in herself as well. Neville Longbottom is initially very down on himself, and as a consequence is a hopeless wizard. However, as he grows older and begins to believe in himself, he matures into one of the most important figures in Dumbledore’s Army.
The Lesson: Never go for a woman purely on the basis of her looks.
As Shown By: This one only happens in the books, but it’s a goody, and so worth including. During their visit to the Quidditch World Cup Ron and Harry are left slack-jawed by the beautiful Veelas, who serve as mascots to the Bulgarian national team. However, when angered, the Veelas suddenly transform into gruesome, Harpy-like creatures sporting scaly wings and ghastly, bird-like faces. “And that, boys,” explains Arthur Weasley, “is why you should never go for looks alone.” True story.
The Lesson: It takes all sorts…
As Shown By: Time and again, Harry finds himself befriending society’s outsiders, from Hagrid to Dobby to “Loony” Luna Lovegood. And guess what? It’s these very characters who often dig him out of the tightest of spots. Just how many of Hogwarts’ supposed “cool kids” would take a knife in the gut for him as Dobby does?
The Lesson: One mega-franchise can lead to another
As Shown By: Robert Pattinson won his first legions of screaming admirers by appearing as Cedric Diggory in Goblet Of Fire . Three years later, he was starring as pasty bloodsucker Edward Cullen in the first Twilight film, and the R-Patz phenomenon was fully underway.
The Lesson: Always treat those below you with kindness
As Shown By: This one is evident in Sirius’ shabby treatment of the house-elf Kreacher, whose banishment from 12 Grimmauld Place ultimately leads to his master’s demise. As Dumbledore later remarks, “I warned Sirius when we adopted twelve Grimmauld Place as our headquarters that Kreacher must be treated with kindness and respect. I also told him that Kreacher could be dangerous to us. I do not think that Sirius took me very seriously, or that he ever saw Kreacher as a being with feelings as acute as a human's.”
Down With The Kids
The Lesson: One must never forget what it was like to be young
As Shown By: Dumbledore’s mishandling of events in The Order Of The Phoenix , in which Harry feels abandoned and Sirius spends his days locked up with his thoughts. “I see now that what I have done, and not done, with regard to you, bears all the hallmarks of the failings of age,” he explains to Harry. “Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young... and I seem to have forgotten lately.”
Game Old Bird
The Lesson: Maggie Smith is a secret badass
As Shown By: One of the greatest pleasures to be savoured in Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 is Professor McGonogall’s transformation from formidable schoolmarm to kick-ass sorceress. The scene in which she summons the enchanted coats of armour is a real goosebumps moment. “I’ve always wanted to use that spell,” she reveals, gleefully…
The Greater Good
The Lesson: During times of trouble, self-sacrifice is key
As Shown By: Many of Harry Potter ’s leading players are extremely selfless, but one quiet moment sums this up better than any, and that’s when Hermione solemnly erases herself from her parents’ memories in order to protect them from the Death Eaters. It’s a timely reminder that whilst Harry’s sacrifices have been obvious, his battle with Voldemort has cost his friends dearly as well.
Keeping It In The Family
The Lesson: Blood is thicker than water
As Shown By: Dumbledore chooses to leave Harry with the ghastly Dursley family for a reason. They might be oafish, thoughtless and downright cruel at times, but Harry’s Aunt Petunia is a blood relation to the young wizard, and therefore able to keep Voldemort from the door thanks to the curse cast by her sister. Even the most disagreeable of family members can come through for you when the going gets tough…
Fudging The Issue
The Lesson: Denial is never a good thing
As Shown By: The latter part of the series sees Minister For Magic Cornelius Fudge continually denying the return of Voldemort, effectively scuppering any chance of heading him off at the pass. Comparisons have been drawn between Fudge and Neville Chamberlain, in that both were muddle-headed appeasers, and both ended up with a war on their hands.
The Lesson: Don’t believe everything you read
As Shown By: The supremely scurrilous Rita Skeeter is a pitch-perfect parody of the tabloid press, wheedling her way into Harry’s affairs wherever possible and twisting his words beyond recognition. Miranda Richardson might not be over-burdened with screen-time, but that doesn’t stop her gleefully making off with every scene she appears in…
The Lesson: Occasionally, teachers will inexplicably hate you
As Shown By: We’ve all experienced this in real life. No matter how model a pupil you are, there will always be at least one teacher at school who seems to have it in for you. Maybe they think your too cocky, maybe you had a more studious elder sibling, or maybe, like Harry, they were once in love with your mum. Either way, you’ve just got to suck it up.
Don't You Know Who I Am?
The Lesson: Fame is a bitch
As Shown By: Every time Harry meets someone in the magical world, they greet him slack-jawed and wide-eyed, fully expecting the sun to peek its golden head out of his rear end. This, understandably, grows wearisome for the boy wizard, particularly when even his fellow pupils are all up in his face (we mean you, Colin Creevey). The one character who cravenly revels in his celebrity is the buffoonish Gilderoy Lockhart, and he ends up in a mental hospital. Pretty clear what Jo Rowling thinks of today’s celebrity culture then…
The Lesson: Fear can be conquered
As Shown By: During Remus Lupin’s tenure as Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, he shows Harry that the thing that is crippling him is a fear of fear itself, explaining why he suffers so much in the presence of the Dementors. In time, Harry is able to defeat fear with focus, as he masters the art of the Patronus charm.
The Lesson: Bravery comes in many forms
As Shown By: At the end of Philosopher’s Stone , Neville attempts to stop Harry, Ron and Hermione going after Quirrell, fearing another punishment for Gryffindor house. One swift curse from Hermione later and he’s out of the picture, but his bravery in defying his friends does not go unnoticed. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to your enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends,” says Dumbledore at the story’s conclusion. “ I award ten points to Neville Longbottom!” Huzzah!
Protecting The Nest
The Lesson: Don’t get between a mother and her young
As Shown By: Bellatrix Lestrange might be one of the most diabolical witches ever to wield a wand, but she makes a critical error when she threatens to kill Ginny Weasley. Molly Weasley might have seen one child bite the dust at the battle of Hogwarts, but she’s not about to let Bellatrix repeat the trick. All together now, “Not my daughter you BITCH!”
The Lesson: Anyone wearing a turban, who isn’t a practising Sikh, should be viewed with suspicion.
As Shown By: As a rule, wizards are pretty flamboyant dressers, what with their flowing robes and luxuriant beards, but Professor Quirrell is the only one who wears a turban, despite having no obvious affiliation to Sikhism. As it turned out, he was using it to disguise a second face growing out of the back of his head. Obvious, now you think about it…
You're Alright, You Are
The Lesson: It’s never too late to admit when you’re wrong
As Shown By: Despite spending his first seventeen years tormenting his hated cousin, Dudley Dursley eventually acknowledges Harry in his own clumsy way. “I don’t think you’re a waste of space,” he tells him sheepishly, as he and his parents leave Little Whinging. It’s a deleted scene in Deathly Hallows pt. 1 , and well worth seeking out on the DVD. Or YouTube , for the tightwads among you.
The Lesson: Sometimes, rules are there to be broken
As Shown By: Anyone attempting to keep count of how many times Harry and his chums break the school rules would have tossed their scorecard out of the window halfway through Chamber Of Secrets. However, in nine cases out of ten, Potter’s rule-breaking eventually works out for the best. “I seem to remember telling you both that I would have to expel you if you broke any more school rules," says Dumbledore at one point. "Which goes to show that the best of us must sometimes eat our words.”
What's In A Name?
The Lesson: You can learn a lot about someone’s character from their name
As Shown By: When in doubt as to a Harry Potter character’s motivation, it usually pays to have a quick think about their name. If it’s anything a bit horrid-sounding, chances are you’ve identified a bad egg. Mundungus Fletcher, Salazar Slytherin, Draco Malfoy… bounders one and all. Severus Snape of course, is the exception that proves the rule!
The Lesson: Even event movie juggernauts can surprise us
As Shown By: The story of the hallows that appears in Deathly Hallows pt 1 is presented as a staggeringly beautiful animation, a sequence as innovative and bewitching as anything else in the entire series. Director David Yates displays more guile and flair here than you would ever expect to find in a mainstream blockbuster. Bravo!
Easy Way Out
The Lesson: The right choice is rarely the easy one
As Shown By: Throughout the films, characters are frequently confronted with choices, the more difficult of which are inevitably the ones that must be taken. Indeed, Voldemort’s rise to power is fuelled almost entirely by those who take the easy option. Cornelius Fudge’s refusal to admit that Voldemort has returned is a case in point. As Dumbledore so sagely explains, “we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” Thankfully, Harry and his friends are always willing to answer the call.
Help The Aged
The Lesson: Never trust an elderly woman who not only looks and smells like a corpse, but also speaks the language of snakes.
As Shown By: Seriously, alarm bells should have been ringing for Harry long before Nagini came leaping out of Bathilda Bagshot’s cadaver. He must have had a cold or something…
Money Can't Buy Me Love
The Lesson: Money might not be the root of all evil, but it certainly can’t buy happiness
As Shown By: The Weasley family have hardly two galleons to rub together, and yet they are presented as the happiest and most loving of all Rowling’s characters. The Malfoys on the other hand are rolling in it, and yet they spend much of the saga wracked with guilt, worry and anxiety. And the less said about those grasping goblins the better. It doesn’t exactly turn out well for them, does it?
The Right Man For The Job
The Lesson: Competence is worth more than reputation
As Shown By: Despite his inexperience as a teacher, Hagrid’s knowledge of magical creatures eventually wins out, and his obvious enthusiasm for his subject soon engages his young charges. Contrast with Gilderoy Lockhart on the other hand, whose storied reputation bags him the Defence Against The Dark Arts post, only for him to be exposed as hopelessly out of his depth. He might talk the talk, but when it comes to backing it up? Not so much.
Mind Your Elders
The Lesson: Power Corrupts
As Shown By: Not exactly novel this one, but a key theme nonetheless, and one that is embodied by the troublesome Elder Wand. Created by Death himself, the wand is the strongest in wizarding history, but it brings about the undoing of first owner Antioch Peverell, and is nothing but trouble for most of those who go on wield it. Indeed, only those without intentions of using the wand for personal gain are fit to possess it all. It is a lesson that Voldemort will discover to his cost…
Wielding The Axe
The Lesson: Jo Rowling is ruthless
As Shown By: Everyone was expecting a few tears to be shed along the way, but the sheer volume of well-loved characters that Rowling decides to kill off took us all by surprise. Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore, Mad-Eye, Dobby (sniff), Fred, Remus, Tonks… never have so many fan favourites felt the sharp end of an author’s axe!
The Lesson: Magical sweets knock Fruit Pastilles into a cocked hat
As Shown By: We’ve often thought that of all the magical bits and pieces that exist in Rowling’s world, the various goodies on offer in Honeydukes sweet shop are the ones we’d most like to get our hands on. From Fizzing Whizzbees to Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Beans, they make Wonka’s offerings look pedestrian by comparison.
Now You See Me
The Lesson: An invisibility cloak really would be brilliant
As Shown By: How many times does that ruddy cloak get Harry out of a tight spot? Serving as an access-all-areas pass to some of Hogwarts’ most forbidden recesses, its proves an invaluable tool throughout the films. Its standout performance? Allowing Harry to eavesdrop on McGonagall, Hagrid and Fudge when they reveal the true nature of Harry’s relationship with Sirius Black. Oh, and Harry probably deserves a pat on the back for his discretion too. Giving a teenage boy a cloak of invisibility in a mixed boarding school would ordinarily be a recipe for disaster…
The Lesson: It’s okay to hit on your best mate’s sister
As Shown By: Whilst Ron is initially less than pleased by the idea of Harry copping off with his sister, he comes around to the idea without so much as a single punch thrown. We’re not so sure this one would hold water in real life…
The Lesson: Giant spiders are always bad news
As Shown By: Even in the world of Harry Potter , where even the ickiest of magical beasties are usually shown to have a soft and cuddly side, the acromantulas (giant spiders to you and me) should be left well alone. Even though they recognise Harry and Ron as friends of Hagrid (a sworn ally of the Hogwarts colony), they attempt to turn them into a light snack, and when it all starts kicking off at the Battle Of Hogwarts, they can’t wait to start picking off the stragglers. Giant spiders are bad news, period. Just ask Frodo…
Gone But Not Forgotten
The Lesson: The people who die never leave us
As Shown By: The scene with the Resurrection Stone in Deathly Hallows pt. 2 illustrates this point in a particularly touching fashion, as Harry’s dearly departed relatives rally around him, supplying him with the courage required to face down Voldemort. It’s a wonderfully tender scene amid the bombast of the film’s big finale.
The Lesson: Principles are all that keep us from savagery
As Shown By: Whilst the Death Eaters might be a loathsome group of fascists, their actions are at least informed by a cause. However, some of the series’ most heinous characters are those who don’t operate in accordance with any principles at all. We’re thinking of the hideous Fenrir Greyback, who works for Voldemort purely because he enjoys killing, and Dolores Umbridge, whose only motivation seems to be the furthering of her own career alongside a sadistic streak a mile wide.
Hell Hath No Fury
The Lesson: It doesn’t pay to jilt a witch
As Shown By: Whilst most teenage girls might deal with rejection by having a bit of a cry and possibly starting a nasty rumour or two, Hermione Granger doesn’t react so placidly. Hence the flock of angry birds she sends Ron’s way when he kisses Lavender Brown. Let that be a lesson to you chaps… never end up in a witch’s bad books!
The Lesson: You can waste your life dreaming of what might have been
As Shown By: The Mirror of Erised reflects the most heartfelt desires of whoever stares into it, but it is presented as a destructive, almost maddening influence on the beholder. While at first the images of Harry’s parents serve as something of a comfort, he finds himself becoming obsessed with the mirror, until Dumbledore is forced to step in. “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” he warns Harry. “Remember that.”
All Good Things
The Lesson: Christmas just isn’t the same without a major fantasy franchise propping it up
As Shown By: As soon as the nights start drawing in and the first Christmas lights start cropping up in high streets up and down the country, we start looking forward to the next instalment of an epic fantasy franchise. At one time, that franchise was Lord Of The Rings , after which the baton was passed to Harry Potter . But this year, we’re left bereft. Fortunately, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is out on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download today. We've already bought our copy, addicts that we are…