About 13 years ago, a seemingly ordinary boy (apart from the lightning scar on his forehead) inhabited a cupboard under the stairs at number four Privet Drive. Of course, he was anything but ordinary. He led a generation into a world of strange incantations, chocolate frogs and Quidditch. In the final installment of the “Harry Potter” series, the boy-who-lived-under-the-stairs is long gone, replaced by a brooding young man with a patchy beard. The fanciful world that Harry Potter introduced millions of children to is under siege.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

At Quality 16 and Rave
Warner Bros.

Lord Voldermort is not the only threat, however. For simple muggle folk, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is the end. But, really, the end of what? The last book came out a few years ago. What makes this movie so special, so significant as to have lines outside movie theaters that twist around the block, packed with 20-something-year-olds dressed in costumes who leave the theater two-and-a-half hours later with tear-stained faces?

After all, the vast majority of people who will see the movie have read the books and, therefore, know how the struggle between Harry and Voldemort ends in the wizarding world. It’s certainly not the plot itself that has caused “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” to have the largest ever single day gross.

Indeed, in many ways, the final movie is guilty of all the same flaws as the others. Parts are left out and other aspects are put in. Far too much time is devoted to a ride through Gringots to showcase special effects. Daniel Radcliffe still can’t act all that well and seems to have eaten a Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean that doesn’t agree with him every time his scar twinges. And yet, no one could really have asked for a better finale.

It has been said that “Harry Potter” belongs to a generation. Arguably, he doesn’t belong to just any generation. It’s a generation that has lived through Sept. 11, a generation that must make its way through some of the toughest economic times this country has known. It’s a generation that must grow up and face reality just as Harry and his friends are forced to do. They’ve grown-up together, bonding over teen angst in a dark world. As a result, the fear of Lord Voldemort and the somber, muted colors of the movie strike a chord.

But above all, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” provides an escape — a chance to sit in wonderment of a world where the word “lumos” produces a light at the end of a wand and heroes emerge from unlikely places. In particular, Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”) emerges, not only more attractive, but as a stronger character and a force to be reckoned with in the movie. And of course, there’s Severus Snape (Alan Rickman, “Alice in Wonderland”), the bravest of them all, fleshed out in all his complexity with a truly wonderful final performance.

With the movies, it’s not the plot that matters that draws its sizeable audience, but the characters who emerge on screen. The actors and their characters have grown alongside their fans. Plot holes and missing scenes don’t matter in the wake of being swept up by Potter-mania.

And now it’s all over, time to move on, time to return to the real world, remembering that the halls of Hogwarts are pure fantasy. But perhaps those leaving the theater with tear-stained faces should consider Dumbledore’s remarks in Kings Cross Station: “Of course it’s happening in your head Harry, but why on earth should that mean it’s not real?”

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