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A Night of Magic

Molly Griffin | Monday, November 21, 2005

It seems that seeing a movie should be the same no matter when or where you see it, since, by their very nature, movies never change. There is something to be said, though, for seeing a movie the night it opens, especially a movie like “Harry Potter.” It’s not so much a matter of the movie being different but instead is a result of the audience being particularly concentrated with fans.

Mugglenet.com, a Web site started by Notre Dame freshman Emerson Spartz, sponsored a midnight showing of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” film this past Thursday at the Cinemark 14 movie complex. Included with the ticket were a food voucher, a T-shirt and a chance to see a normal night at the movies become a particularly interesting experience.

Getting tickets to the event required reservations, advanced payment and showing up to the theatre early, which showed just how desirable passes to this advanced screening were. On arriving at the theatre, there were masses of people waiting to get seats and a general air of excitement in the complex.

A large number of people were in “Harry Potter” inspired T-shirts, including a group of people in self-made “Irish Quiddich” uniforms. There were also a number of shirts revealing allegiance to the Gryffindor house (where Harry lives) and, naturally, a huge number of people showing their “Potter” pride by sporting their free Mugglenet.com shirts.

Some individuals went a step further and dressed up for the showing. Round glasses, lightning scars and striped scarves abounded, as well as people in robes and others carrying homemade wands.

Prior to the film’s start, Mugglenet.com founder Spartz spoke about his experiences with running a “Harry Potter” website, from why he started it to what has happened to him as a result of the project. He discussed meeting J.K. Rowling, author of the “Potter” series, and his visits to several of the movie sets and premiers.

The intensity of the “Harry Potter” fans in attendance was then revealed with a trivia contest. Questions were beyond the knowledge of mere fair-weather “Potter” fans and included such difficult queries as “What form does Hermione’s Patronus take?” (An Otter).

The real fun started when the film began. The hard-core audience was very engaged with the film, which resulted in a less than quite viewing environment, but it also made the movie much more interactive.

The minute Cedric Diggory, a favorite character among fans, appeared on screen there were a number of catcalls. The clearly tense relationship between Hermione and Ron received equal attention from the rapt audience. There were cheers when Harry succeeded in his trials during the Triwizard tournament and there was more than a little bit of whispering when Harry appeared without his shirt on.

The film ended to applause from the audience, and there was an excited buzz running through the theatre as everyone began discussing what had just happened in the movie.

While a few lines in the film may have been missed because of the vocal audience, the sheer excitement of seeing a film with a group of people so completely engaged with it, to the point of dressing up and making shirts, is just something that can’t be missed.

Contact Molly Griffin at mgriffin@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.