I went to see the Harry Potter exhibit at the Science Centre yesterday with three avid tweenage Harry Potter fans. There weren’t not the only ones in the crowd in costume, not even close.
Like most of the kids there, they know every nook and cranny of the Potterverse. They know every character and their history. They know which book each incident comes from, which spells were used when and every fact, figure and piece of trivia you can imagine.
They spent a great deal of time in the exhibit. Looked at every item, discussed it, put in some sort of context and through it tried to relive the delicious experience of being in the JK Rowling’s story world. They scoured the gift shop for souvenirs to take home and left mostly with chocolate. They already own all the books and videos, wands, costumes and more.
The exhibit reminded me what a marvelous, detailed world Rowling created. But I feel sad that as large as it is, it is finite. I see how these kids long to discover some new element of it, to dig deeper or experience a new part of the tale. But there is nothing left to find.
The Harry Potter universe does not expand past the limits of the book. It gets retold in movies, audiobooks, videogames and exhibitions, but there in all those other platforms there is nothing new to discover.
My daughter came home a little deflated from the experience. She was engaged while she was there, talking with her friends and reliving the books. But afterwards she said the exhibit just reminded her how disappointing the Harry Potter movies were. And indeed they pale in comparison to the books.
That’s crossplatform. A finite world retold over and over in other platforms. Vaguely disappointed to the fan who wants to live and breathe in that world, who longs for more riches, more nooks and crannies of the universe to discover.
Taking Harry to many platforms in a great way to exploit the series and it’s certainly helped the story reach new audiences.
The kids I was with weren’t the only ones who long for more time in the world. I loved it there too. Selfishly, I wish Rowling’s was a transmedia vision and that when the story moved to new platforms, was there was new content to discover: different storylines, deeper explorations of what happened from other characters’ points of view, more time in the past or future of the world.
That’s not the way it is however and I can only drown my sorrow in chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans and fudge flies.