Watching the Harry Potter movies at this point is like visiting a dear old friend. The dialogues are like inside jokes; you know the punchline even before it has begun.
There are the bittersweet moments — when you see actors like the great Alan Rickman who have passed since the first of the series, The Philosopher’s Stone, came out; and then there are others who’ve grown up and taken the world by magical storm — here’s looking at you Emma Watson.
Which is why, when I heard of a live orchestra playing alongside the first movie on a 40-foot screen, I was spellbound. Imagine, Harry’s induction into the world of wizardry, much like a modern-day Cinderella finally seeing the light of day — and that too with 3D tunes to coddle the senses.
Playing at du Forum, Yas Island, for three nights only, the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra started with an ode to the master composer John Williams. He’s responsible for the wonder invoked when Harry discovers his wand at Ollivander’s and when He-who-must-not-be-named finally makes an appearance. But his oeuvre encompasses so much more: the winner of 23 Grammys has also composed scores for Jaws, Star Wars, Memoirs of a Geisha and, well, you get the idea.
The evening began well enough with a long line of people swiftly ushered into the arena. En route to your seats you could grab a bite, or a printed T-shirt (something to remember the experience by). And so we were led to the rows that, truth be told, required some dexterity to slide into. This managed, the movie began.
The music was crystal clear — in time with the action on screen and not a note out of key; it takes your breath away. The rise and fall in tempo and timbre were spot on, down to the last jingle, in spite of the acoustics of the arena, which would at times let in the growl of an aeroplane flying overhead.
The trademark notes that have endured past the seven instalments of J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece adaptation into the world of Fantastic Beasts tugged at nostalgia perfectly — smiles were available in plenty.
Then came the squeals and shakes.
Teeming with children of all ages not content to watch and listen, the show festooned into a gala of — as expected — giggles and claps, with the occasional hush thrown in for good measure. Old mates Harry, Ron and Hermione were muffled, their speech thrown (even more) out of whack; straining the ears only made it worse.
Brilliant lines such as Dumbledore’s “it does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live” lost their impact in the hum of the crowd. Music was the only redeeming factor.
But perhaps this relationship with a favourite movie is as dynamic as one with an old friend; some need one-on-one time, others more companionship.
Don’t Miss It!
‘Harry Potter in Concert’ screens on September 22 at 7.30pm and on September 23 at 5pm the du Forum, Yas Island. Available tickets start at Dh236.