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Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts Review

Queueing up at midnight to be one of the first to get the latest book, excitedly heading to the cinema to watch the latest film with your family at Christmas or gleefully immersing yourself in the HP universe at the studio tours – it’s fair to say the Harry Potter series has had an immense effect on modern culture. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the beloved franchise’s first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Warner Bros has assembled a star-studded line-up for a two hour reunion special packed full of magical nostalgia.

As a 90’s kid who grew up losing herself in the magical universe of the books and watching the film instalments as a cinema tradition every festive period, the franchise certainly holds a special place in my heart. So, watching the joyous reunion of the film’s stars, particularly the central trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, in the first trailer – I couldn’t help getting excited at the announcement.

The magical documentary immerses us back into the wizarding world with all-new interviews and conversations between cast members revealing emotional moments and memories from making the films. Directors Eran Creevy, Joe Pearlman and Giorgio Testi explore the series in four main chapters, delving into two films per chapter, with each chapter featuring plenty of archive and behind-the-scenes footage, screen tests, clips from the film and the cast and crew revisiting the iconic sets.

While there are some faces missing from the documentary, (most notably in the Weasleys reunion in the Burrow) its heartwarming to see so many of the main cast coming together to celebrate after so many years. The reunion between Daniel Radcliffe and previous mentor and father figure Gary Oldman proved an emotional moment, while the following interaction between Radcliffe and Helena Bonham Carter at Gringotts Bank almost steals the show, with the revelation that a young Radcliffe left her a hilariously flirty autograph!

HBC undoubtedly brings much of the humour to the documentary, hilariously stating “I killed you didn’t I? Sorry but it had to be done” when reuniting with Gary Oldman, while also asking “Ohh they really don’t look well, has anyone fed them?” when meeting the goblin figures in Gringotts. Other entertaining revelations include director Mike Newell admitting he cracked a couple of ribs onset preparing for a scene fighting with the Dursley twins, the kiss between Ron and Hermione proving one of the hardest scenes to film for Emma and Rupert, while director Alfonso Cuarón warmly admitting Rupert Grint didn’t do some homework, using the excuse “well I thought Ron wouldn’t do it.”

While there aren’t as many revelations as the Friends reunion, Emma Watson does speak about falling “in love” with her Harry Potter co-star Tom Felton on-set. “I used to come in every day and look for his number on the call sheet. It was number seven, and if his name was on the call sheet, it was an extra exciting day.” However, sorry Dramione shippers, but Watson does go on to say nothing romantically ever happened between them.

Watson also emotionally opens up about the struggles she went through during filming, noting she was lonely and “at tipping point” during The Order of the Phoenix, as she doubted her return for the final instalments of the franchise. There’s also a hugely moving tribute to the cast and crew taken too early, including Alan Rickman, Helen McCrory and Richard St John Harris.


Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts is a hugely warm and heartfelt documentary which, despite the overly long run time, wonderfully captures the magic and legacy of the beloved film franchise – highlighting the lasting impact it’s had on the cast and crew.

Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts airs at 8pm on New Year’s Day exclusively on Sky and streaming service NOW in the UK and on HBO Max in the US.