Thursday, 8 December 2016

LUMOS MAXIMA: Fantastic Beasts European Premiere

On Tuesday 15th November, I got the opportunity to do something incredible. This mad, mad story began with a text which pulled me out from underneath the comfort of a blanket and a slumber on a Friday afternoon nearly 2 weeks prior. At first, when I saw Amber's frantic caps lock text, I thought that my barely conscious state was playing tricks on me. But it was true: Amber had tickets for the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them European Premiere, and she wanted to invite me as her plus one. Me your local embodiment of Pottermore. The excitement didn't fully sink in until the following Wednesday when I got confirmation of my ticket, and everything else - a hotel, train tickets - fell into place. That was the point when suddenly, I realised that a long time dream of mine was becoming a reality.

Amber and I met in a fitting place - King's Cross, the home of meeting after meeting of Hogwarts students. Of course, I got lost and mistook St Pancras for King's Cross, but I found Amber in the end. I won't deny that I was a little terrified in anticipation of our meeting, simply because our friendship is one that's been exclusively online for four years, but when we met it felt like everything clicked back into place. Between taking the Underground and quickly stopping by Burger King for panic-purchasing food in an attempt to calm ourselves, we really lived the premiere life that night. 

To say the night was magical would be a cliche, but it's true. It's not every day you get to live a dream and get to do it with one of your greatest friends. 

You'd think that the process of actually entering a premiere would be pretty simple - as did I - but no. No. We'd been invited to a hotel to collect the tickets, which sounded fairly straightforward, but involved a trek in and around Leicester Square, China Town and being screamed at by police officers as an actor drove past us. Eventually, we ended up at the W Hotel, a hotel Amber and I mutually agreed we'd have to chop limbs off in order to even be considered for a night there. Beautifully decorated, even if someone had gotten a little carried away with the glitter, and looking slightly like an establishment out of Black Mirror [the touchscreen walls, entire room photo booths [which we spent a lot of time in attempting to take 'good' photos] and sophisticated dim lighting.] Naturally when we ended up in a lift with Luke Cutforth, Amber spent the entire ride down having palpitations. 

I don't remember how I expected a premiere to be, but it certainly wasn't like this. When I was 12 and watched the live stream of the Trafalgar Square premiere for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and through J.K. Rowling documentaries have seen flashes of the other premieres, the sheer mass of people never clicked. Screams and shouts from fans were explosions of noise as cast members came onto the stage beside us. The barriers segregating fans from guests were adorned with banners dedicated to the most famous of Harry Potter insider phrases and jokes; a sea of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin scarves, [let's not forget those wonderful people who painted their faces in house colours], and of course, tidal waves of Harry Potter books and the original book of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It was terrifying and my anxiety was going through the roof at points, but those minutes when we were on the blue carpet simultaneously felt like coming home. Amber and I were surrounded by people who adored Harry Potter, who were willing to camp out in the cold and make desperate toilet and pizza runs for the sake of the wizarding world they so deeply care for. That level of compassion and dedication is something that is hard to come by in day-to-day life, and so walking down a carpet surrounded by Potterheads, for a major Potter moment was extraordinary.

If you've already read my review of the film, then you know my thoughts. But for the sake of continuity, I'll be brief here. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was everything I could have hoped for in the long three-year wait. I cried thrice over the course of the film, twice for nostalgia including the WB logo, and once for a heartbreaking moment. Tear-jerking and laughter-inducing, the magic has been reignited. An incendio has been cast and the fire that is the Harry Potter fandom is burning once again - not that it ever went away. Drunk on emotion and adrenaline, I came away from the premiere with a swarm of theories, and billions of questions for Amber on what she thought of the film. That is J.K. Rowling's power; because she's left me with countless wonders and loose trains of thought, and yet I'm content to wait for another 2 years for the next batch of answers.

We ended the night how it began, attempting to get back to Hogwarts via the Platform 9 3/4. I'd never been to King's Cross before, and after years of waiting, it was an incredible moment. We did 'the thing' and got a photo together - luckily I'd brought my Ravenclaw scarf and so there were no duels over who ended up lying about their house in the photo, and then browsed the Harry Potter Shop before Amber had to head for her train. 

I cannot thank Amber enough for such an amazing opportunity. This was something that I would never have believed to happen, but it was even better to do it with such a great friend. [Also, thank you to the people who invited Amber, because without that, we still wouldn't have met.] You've still got time to go and see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in cinemas - be quick before it apparates. And if you've already been, then feel free to watch Amber and I in motion picture below. In other words, watch me fangirl so much that somebody commented on Amber's video calling me a 'human emoji.'


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