Do You Believe in Magic?

Dette indlæg er lidt anderledes fra hvad jeg plejer at udgive. For det første et det noget jeg skrev tilbage i 2012, og for det andet har det ikke konkret noget med bøger at gøre. Men, men, det har til gengæld med Harry Potter at gøre. Dette er en kreativ instruktion til en walking-tour i London til nogle af de magiske steder der er blevet brugt i filmen. 

 

Well do you? Of course, if you’re a Muggle you probably won’t, but I’m sure you will still be fascinated by it. (At the same time, you might not be aware what a Muggle is. We, of course, know what a Muggle is, but just to clear this up; a Muggle is the ordinary people, those who cannot perform real magic like the rest of us wizards.) Because that’s the lure of magic, no matter how cynical you might claim to be, there will always be some part of magic fascinating you. You will probably still see this in this modern day of age, that people are still drawn to the mystical and magical aspects of the world and sometimes even emerge into these other realms. But of course, if you are one of those stubborn-headed Muggles, who refuse to believe in anything other than the ordinary, you should just toss this aside and continue with your daily work of sorting papers or banking or whatever you might do for a living. However, if you dare to dream, then by all means please continue reading as I attempt to uncover some hidden magic throughout the normal everyday. Because if you are one of those lucky Muggles with an open mind, you will believe in at least one type of magic; the magic of film-making and making the impossible seem possible.

In films the realistic is combined with the unrealistic and can still come across as realistic. Some people would argue that this has become easier in recent years with all the new computer technologies, which enable the creator to do out-of-this-world things. The stubborn Muggles, who are in fact so stubborn that they are still reading even though they were told not to bother, would argue that this is seen more so in the Harry Potter films, which came to its conclusion last year, 2011. However, a real wizard will recognise the real magic of the films and not just the magic behind the films. It is true that we take our departure in the realistic world only to journey along with Harry Potter to the magical world, not so far from the realistic one in the discovery of magic. Although the Muggles will have you believe in the use of CGI, us who know better still believe in the reality seen on screen. Why is that you may ask, as the reasoned Muggle you might be.

Is it because of the CGI or possibly because we start in the real (Muggle) world? Or could it be something more? Perhaps, to the ordinary Muggle, it helps that some elements of these films have places in them they can recognise from their city of London. This gives them something to hold on to before they venture into the mysterious and unknown wizarding world. To help these poor Muggles, that I assume are not reading any longer, I suggest we trace these locations and see what the mystery is about them. In order to see just how much they resemble their appearance on the big screen, and if not, then to see what the magical aspect of the place has to lure us with. I then suggest we each take on ourselves to help at least one frightened Muggle by showing them the magic that lies beyond the films; more specifically to be found at the Leavesden Studios just outside of London. But hopefully, not to scare them too much, perhaps we ought to start by slowly introducing them to these locations around London first.

Because even though Muggles are stubborn and not prone to believe in magic, they still flock to the screen for the latest instalment of the Harry Potter films to see this notion of magic in a, to them, non-existent world. But what do we suppose draw these Muggles to watch this kind of film? Because, of course, it is not only the Harry Potter films that have been able to draw in the crowds over the years. Before Harry Potter there were others, and there will certainly be others, now Harry Potter has finished. The question still remains; why?

We start of at the notion that there is no definitive answer to this, but supposedly it has to do with escaping reality. Watching any type of film, allows one to explore another person’s reality and leave your own perhaps dreary one behind for a while. It is the chance to experience something you would not otherwise achieve. Granted, of course this is all experienced second hand, but all the same it is an escape from the daily Muggle life.

So let us venture on the Muggle escape (if there are still some Muggles left reading; they are a stubborn breed) and depart on a journey in the footsteps of (albeit fictional) Harry Potter. Let us start, just like Harry, by going to Diagon Alley. This might be a nice transition for the Muggles from their world to ours. I did not succeed in purchasing a wand there, but I am sure we can rectify that along our journey somehow.

Wizard Leadenhall Market.
Leadenhall Market
Muggle Leadenhall Market.

Diagon Alley has somehow been renamed in the Muggle world, here it is known as Leadenhall Market but of course we easily recognise this from when Hagrid and Harry are discussing his list of school things for Hogwarts. It is peculiar to be in this place, that is not the real Diagon Alley but still it has so much reminiscence to the Diagon Alley we would see in the film, with its closed entity of the shops and the humble bustle of people. I suppose, it is what Diagon Alley really does look like in the Muggle world, and therefore it would only make sense to have the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron here. One difference though between the real Diagon Alley and the Muggle version would be the fact this place is much more focused around cafés and restaurants opposed to little shops. Muggles tend to centre more on food than supplies for your potions cabinet, I suppose. Let us return to the (not so much any longer) hidden entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. We see in the film, it appears as though the entrance is somewhat in a side street to the actual street where we first see Harry and Hagrid, which would make sense as we would not wish to draw too much attention to location of our Diagon Alley. As it so happens, the Muggles have a similar looking entrance located somewhat in a little alley way to Leadenhall Market. If it weren’t for the fact that it had been painted bright blue, I doubt Muggles would even notice it walking by. Of course, today many Muggles flock there for the novelty of Harry Potter, so we had to move our entrance to the Leaky Cauldron. Because of that, this first place has lost its magical appeal due to the purpose of what is today an optician shop. This optician shop has nothing what so ever magical about it, as you would connect with the magical world of Harry Potter. With that being said, it is understandable I believe, why Muggles still ‘flock’ to this place to take part in Harry’s first adventure to enter the magical world.

Wizard Leaky Cauldron Entrance.
Muggle Leaky Cauldron Entrance.
Muggle Leaky Cauldron Entrance.

But as our way of trying to keep our world hidden from these innocent Muggles, we had to move our passageway between the two worlds. We see this when we fast forward a couple of years and the entrance to the Leaky Cauldron has taken on a much darker and sinister look too. I would also say that this one is harder to find, and more ordinary-looking in the Muggle world. Today, is it covered by a floral shop and therefore there is nothing magical about it. This exterior has been kept more sinister, which might also be why people continue to seek out the first one, because it has a much happier and mysterious appeal to it, whereas this can be viewed as just a door in the wall with no real purpose behind it. But then again, that is the point of it; to appear ordinary and plain to conceal the magical world we have actually hidden behind it.

New Wizard Leaky Cauldron Entrance.
Muggle Cover up of new Leaky Cauldron Entrance.
Muggle Cover up of new Leaky Cauldron Entrance.

With the entrance to Diagon Alley disclosed, let’s move on to a place the Muggles say inspire them to the way Diagon Alley would look if they had one.

Diagon Alley.
Muggle version of Diagon Alley, in Cecil Court.
Muggle version of Diagon Alley, in Cecil Court.

Cecil Court, right of Charing Cross is nothing like our real Diagon Alley though, but I would see why they could use this place as inspiration. Walking down the little alley and really taking in the different shops one can see the inspirational factor of the place. The difference and variety of the shops, antique books, stamps, antique busts, pictures and various other curious objects have that mysterious appeal of the place and I suppose this is the kind of magic Muggles can produce on their own.

Let us stay in the Diagon Alley area though, well in the Muggle world of course. We wouldn’t want any of those Muggles discovering any of our secrets.

The Muggles are said to have a building reminding them of our Gringotts bank. They claim this is the Australia House with its large columns and grand exterior, which admittedly I see, partly copied to the Gringotts bank. Although the columns are far more crooked at Gringotts it is quite similar. Even if you were to venture inside, the giant chandelier in the centre of the room may be said to be a ‘copy’ of the one hanging in Gringotts. One might then ask what magical traits you would find at this particular place? To which I would have to say, nothing. The fact that Muggles have somewhat copied the magical world, shows how much they dream of the magic of films and magic in a general every day.

Gringotts.
Australia House.
Australia House.

Once we are finished at Diagon Alley we must, of course, hurry to catch our train from King’s Cross, the place where Harry leaves his ordinary world behind to really journey to the magical world.

Outside Muggle Kings Cross Station – with a view to the clock tower Harry and Ron flies by in the Ford Anglia in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Outside Muggle Kings Cross Station – with a view to the clock tower Harry and Ron flies by in the Ford Anglia in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Naturally we can’t have Muggles rushing back and forth between Platform 9 ¾ and the station all the time, so we have had to move that entrance as well. With all the construction going on at the place anyway we figure we might as well do some too. But still, King’s Cross gives of the feeling of people hurrying to catch their trains, though neither of these trains are old locomotives like the Hogwarts Express. To satisfy the Muggles though, we felt complied to set up a temporary Platform 9 ¾ for them to enjoy themselves with. We did not however, expect it to be such a grand tourist attraction it has become where people from all over the world come to get their candid photograph alongside with it.

The real Platform 9 3/4
Muggle Tuorist Trap.
Muggle Tuorist Trap.

Though popular, this particular addition to the station has drained the magic from it. The fake platform, we might say, has been installed to satisfy the enthusiastic Potter fans flocking to Kings Cross to get their taste of the magic. However, there is nothing magical about it because it has been so commercialized the Muggles have now made it so they can move it around the station as they see fit –due to the mentioned reconstruction.

If you were instead to imagine the station with steam engine trains all like the Hogwarts Express, you will find it to be much more like train stations from some fifty years ago, and that has a more magical appeal. The steam engine train, in turn, functions as the transition from one otherwise ordinary world to a world filled with magic.

But there are of course other ways to transition into the magical world, as Harry shows us when he boards the Knight Bus, which then crosses Lambeth Bridge and functions as another form of crossing between the worlds. Harry crosses the bridge to get from his ordinary Muggle world, to journey to the Leaky Cauldron, and thereby step into his magical world.

The Knight Nus on Lambeth Bridge.
Muggle Lambeth Bridge.
Muggle Lambeth Bridge.

But of course there is nothing special about Lambeth Bridge itself. Really, any other bridge would have done the job of letting the Knight Bus cross the river. But yet again for the film it was necessary, I believe, to have a bridge that would not steal the picture from what was actually going on, which is possibly what would’ve happened if the filmmakers had used Westminster Bridge instead. Westminster Bridge with the view of Parliament and Big Ben was used a few years later though, but only as a passing point for Harry and the Order of the Phoenix.

Parliament with wizards flying by.
Westminster Bridge and Big Ben.
Westminster Bridge and Big Ben.

It is somewhat a given that the Muggles would be fascinated by this view, we will have to give them that it is a beautiful one. And the possibilities for spectacular film-shots are many. Especially as Harry and the Order fly by at nighttime, where Parliament is lit up, which makes it look even more spectacular than it does by daylight. I would propose that ever since Peter Pan and Wendy stopped by Big Ben it has been a given that any film shot in London would at some point feature this majestically landmark, and as said, we will have to give it to the Muggles for this one.

Another of their marvellous inventions is the underground train they refer to as the Tube. We know how Mr. Weasley has his troubles with the system, and it was only Harry’s knowledge of the Muggle world that helped him through. This was at Westminster tube station, and I must say I am glad to be surrounded by Muggles when I, on very few occasions, attempt to use to the tube, to always have someone that most likely will assist me.

Westminster Tube Station.
Muggle Westminster Tube Station.
Muggle Westminster Tube Station.

Because this is a part of the Muggle world there is nothing magical about the place. This is well enough for the place, as it helps us to blend in with the Muggles, even though we might have troubles with the machinery.

As far as the films, it is only because we already know of the magic that it is there, in the presence of the characters. But without the characters there is nothing really special about the location.

The same could be said for our visitor’s entrance to the Ministry of Magic. This entrance we have to keep hidden from any curious Muggle that might come looking. So we picked a little street, Great Scotland Yard street right of Whitehall Parliament, which we thought would be well hidden behind the parking space many of London’s busses use. The entire point of this place is to appear as ordinary and plain as possible, to keep away the Muggles. Right when you get there, there is no magical appeal whatsoever about the place. Sadly we had to reconstruct the entrance once the films premiered showing their fake red phone box used to enter our Ministry, this was removed by the Muggle creative team when they had finished filming in the location. Now again, our visitor’s entrance is hidden to the Muggles, because once again, the ordinariness of the place is what this location is all about, so as to not catch the attention of Muggles.

Wizard Secret Entrance to the Ministry.
Ministry Visitor's Entrance, afterwards.
Ministry Visitor’s Entrance, afterwards.

Now that we have dealt with all of our hidden places around the city, let us turn to another more obvious location, which I fear I must apologize for the destruction of: The Millennium Bridge (though it has been rebuilt again, since our attack on it). All of this of course happened some years ago, and if you ask a Muggle today I doubt they would remember it, or most likely they will deny it ever happened. Muggles are stubborn and ignorant in that way I’m sad to say (I do hope they are not still reading, though it would be much like them).

However, a few Muggles remembered it so much they incorporated it in the film to which the director, David Yates, stated in an interview at the time:

“We’re opening with a big attack. We’ll bring a major London landmark crashing down.”

When you see the bridge, I understand why this destruction would be extraordinary to the Muggles (even though they refuse to remember when it happened the first time). Because of its building structure it would make the best scenographical display. I believe it was because of this destruction that it gives of a slight ominous feeling when you cross it these days.

Millenium Brigde, under collapse.
Muggle Millenium Bridge.
Muggle Millenium Bridge.

I realise I may not have discussed every of our hidden locations around the city, but us wizards must keep some of our secrets from the Muggles. I would however, like to point of that I chose some of the most important and iconic places, and also that would count as iconic places for the city of London, which was also part of the reasoning for selecting these particular locations. I would say I have shown you most of the places in London that you already knew about because of the Harry Potter films, which was partly the object of this little tour; to find places in and around London that was iconic both to the Harry Potter film series as well to the city of London.

(All film photos are available online, while the muggle photos are copyrighted to me, from my personal archives.)

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