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Movie History – On the Harry Potter Films and Their Twists and Surprises

What is it about the many Harry Potter films, beginning in 2001, that appeal to such a varied, devoted audience of all ages? There are many answers to that question, including the imaginative scripts with creatively drawn characters, animals, creatures, spells, and locales; the growth of Harry, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger as teen friends and courageous allies; the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and its unusual classes in the Dark Arts; the inevitable conflict between good and evil; and all the exciting adventures, romances, and losses that the underdog hero and his friends face in this magical world. What are the most striking surprises and twists in the first six films? (Spoiler alert!)

Harry’s Defeat of Lord Voldemort, Disguised as Professor Quirrell
Turbaned “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teacher Quirinus Quirrell (Ian Hart) confesses to Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) that it isn’t devious potions master Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) who is trying to kill him, as the film leads one to believe. The film’s major surprise is that Lord Voldemort (Richard Bremmer) has become Quirrell’s master, commanding him to serve and do his bidding, and is plotting a return to power by acquiring the Sorcerer’s Stone. Harry refuses to be tempted to hand over the stone and through his magical power of touch causes Quirrell’s flesh to burn and disintegrate, defeating the Dark Lord.

Harry’s Defeat of Lord Voldemort (As Tom Riddle), Including the Death of the Chamber’s Basilisk
The opening of the sealed Chamber of Secrets at Hogwarts is
signaled by strange threats and voices speaking about blood. The Enemies of the Heir (or those who are “unworthy to study magic”) are threatened with
being purged, and the school could be closed. The entrance to the chamber is through the sinks in the girls’ lavatory, and Harry goes underground
into the chamber to save malevolently possessed Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), his
friend’s sister. There he is confronted by one of the school’s
students from 50 years earlier, Tom Marvolo Riddle (Christian Coulson),
who reveals himself as a “memory preserved in a diary for 50 years.”
The film’s major plot twist is that Riddle is actually Lord Voldemort — the letters of his name are an anagram for “I am Lord Voldemort” — and he has been targeting Harry. Tom Riddle is defeated when Harry kills a snake and plunges the snake’s poisonous fangs into the
diary.

The Revelation That Voldemort’s Evil Servant Was a Disguised Peter Pettigrew, Not Sirius Black
Harry’s long-imprisoned godfather, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), has
escaped from twelve years of incarceration at Azkaban prison and is
feared to be targeting Harry. The fugitive is suspected of
being a faithful servant and supporter of Lord Voldemort (a.k.a. You Know Who). Although Harry originally believes that Black murdered Peter Pettigrew (Timothy Spall) — who had reportedly warned Harry’s parents, James (Adrian Rawlins) and Lily (Geraldine Somerville) — it was Pettigrew who was the real
villain. (He had betrayed Harry’s mother and father and afterward
disguised himself as a pet rat called Scabbers.) Black had
been falsely accused and framed for the murders and after his escape
was seeking revenge against Pettigrew, not Harry. As the film ends, the
innocent Sirius is again freed, while Pettigrew goes into hiding.

The Rejuvenation of the Dark Lord, Aided by Pettigrew and a Disguised Mad-Eye Moody, and the Tragic Death of Classmate Cedric Diggory
Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) continues to scheme with servant Peter “Wormtail” Pettigrew and Voldemort’s third unseen helper — Azkaban prisoner and Death Eater Barty Crouch Jr. (David Tennant) — to capture and then murder Harry Potter. The names of candidates to compete from various schools in the Triwizard Tournament are
announced. From the magical Goblet of Fire the name Cedric Diggory (Robert
Pattinson) is chosen for Hogwarts, with underage Harry
unexpectedly selected as a fourth competitor. At the conclusion of the
tournament, Harry and his teammate are confronted in a graveyard by
Pettigrew, who uses a killing curse to murder Cedric. Mixing
ingredients including Harry’s blood, Pettigrew rejuvenates and revives
Voldemort in bodily form, and the young wizard and the Dark
Lord duel with their wands in a standoff. The film’s conclusion
reveals the twist that the new “Defense Against the Dark Arts” teacher,
Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody (Brendan Gleeson), is actually Barty Crouch
Jr. functioning as Voldemort’s servant behind all the evildoings.

The Murder of Sirius Black During the Dark Lord’s Full Return
Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black, leads the Order of the Phoenix secret society to challenge the Ministry of Magic’s official
claim that the Dark Lord has not returned. With the ministry’s backing,
the headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), is ousted and
replaced by professor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton). Within the
Department of Mysteries, Sirius is murdered by his deranged cousin,
Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). When Harry
pursues her, he is confronted by the Dark Lord and briefly possessed by
Voldemort until the young wizard’s powerful memories repel him. The
existence of the Dark Lord is witnessed and confirmed by the Ministry
of Magic.

Lord Voldemort’s Scheme to Hide in a Horcrux and the Murder of
Harry’s Mentor Albus Dumbledore, Killed by Professor Severus
Snape

The headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore, is targeted for
assassination, while Harry learns more about the younger days of Lord Voldemort, known as Tom Riddle, an ex-student of returning
Hogwarts professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent). The key to
understanding this installment in the franchise is the concept of the Horcrux — a magical object. Lord Voldemort had preserved his immortality by splitting his very soul (via murder) into six fragments or pieces attached to various hidden Horcruxes, so a search is on to
destroy all of them — and therefore Voldemort. However, before
that can be accomplished, “Defense Against the Dark Arts” professor
Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), revealed as the mysterious Half-Blood
Prince, uses a killing curse against Dumbledore and murders him, while
effectively fending off Harry’s counterspells.

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