In cinematic terms, Friday marks the beginning of the end for teenage wizard Harry Potter. The release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” leads Harry to his ultimate destiny, namely a fight to the death with Lord Voldemort.
Based on the novels by J.K. Rowling, a writer who never wastes as single line, the six previous Harry Potter movies act like pieces of a giant puzzle. Here’s a look back at the previous movies and some essential details to keep in mind for “Deathly Hallows”:
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (Released Nov. 16, 2001)
Living with his horrific relatives, the Dursleys, Harry is treated like a servant and bit of a nuisance. On his 11th birthday, though, Harry learns his true magical heritage and what really happened to his mother and father.
On the first train trip to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry meets Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, the two students who will become his closest friends. With their help, Harry successfully defeats Lord Voldemort for the second time in his young life.
Important details: Harry speaking Parseltongue, the language of serpents, to a snake at the zoo. Mr. Olivander’s statement that “the wand chooses the wizard” also is an important plot point in “Deathly Hallows,” as is Harry’s Cloak of Invisibility.
“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” (Released Nov. 15, 2002)
Harry’s second year at Hogwart’s turns deadly as students throughout the school are petrified, including Hermione. Harry’s gift for Parseltongue allows him to enter the deadly Chamber of Secrets and save Ginny, Ron’s little sister, from Lord Voldemort.
Important details: “The Chamber of Secrets” contains the first appearance of a Horcrux, the objects in which Lord Voldemort has hidden portions of his soul, and one essential way to destroy them. Dobby the House Elf, an important player in “Deathly Hallows,” also makes his first appearance.
“Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (Released June 4, 2004)
Year 3 introduces two key characters, Professor Remus Lupin and Sirius Black, the man accused of betraying Harry’s mother and father. As Sirius Black breaks out of Azkaban, the wizard’s prison, Professor Lupin gives Harry his first real lessons in fighting dark wizards.
Essential plot points: Harry learns how to conjure a Patronus, a protective animal spirit, from Professor Lupin. Sirius Black also reveals his true nature to Harry and his friends.
“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” (Released Nov. 18, 2005)
Harry Potter’s 4th year at Hogwarts turns into a real game changer. Forced by a binding magical contract to enter a deadly competition, Harry holds his own until the final challenge, which pits him once again against Lord Voldemort.
Essential plot points: Ron and Hermione show their true feelings for each other in an explosive confrontation after a school dance. Lord Voldemort’s sign, a skull swallowing a serpent, is revealed as the tattoo worn by Voldemort’s followers.
Harry’s wand contains the same phoenix feather core as Lord Voldemort’s, and they each learn what happens when the two wands are connected.
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (Released July 11, 2007)
Following the death of a student at Lord Voldemort’s command, the Ministry of Magic becomes more involved in the day-to-day operations of Hogwarts. Since Harry was the last one to see the student alive, the other students look at him with suspicions.
Dolores Umbridge, a prissy, ultra-proper member of the Ministry of Magic, becomes the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Umbridge uses a special quill pen to punish those who she deems naughty, especially Harry Potter.
Essential plot points: The Room of Requirement, which becomes whatever a person needs most, serves as the training ground for Harry’s unauthorized magical defense lessons. From a prophecy, Harry learns that he and Voldemort are destined to fight to the death (“Neither can live while the other survives”).
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (Released July 15, 2009)
Harry spends this school year in private instruction with Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Harry’s mentor shows Harry the evolution of Lord Voldemort, from the bullying young Tom Riddle to the most evil wizard in history.
Essential plot points: Harry learns more about Horcruxes and how to destroy them. Ginny Weasley and Harry become serious about each other for the first time in the series.