Harry Potter: A History of Magic

59 min. Jude Ho, dist. by BBC Studios c/o BBC Worldwide, shop.bbc.com; www.wbshop.com. 2018. DVD UPC 883929621705. $14.97. HOBBIES/MAGIC/LIT
OrangeReviewStarThis production is an infomercial for the British Library's titular exhibition, made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the publication of the first Harry Potter book. Still, viewers interested in magic, history, or J.K. Rowling's writings won't object: Rowling herself describes the sources and inspirations for the spells and substances that appear in the Potter series. As well, Rowling and a dedicated crew of librarians, archivists, and curators also discuss the historical bases for those varieties of magic while they pore over books and artifacts selected from libraries and museums throughout England for the exhibit. Actors from the Potter films provide narration and recite pertinent passages from the books, and the conclusion—in which Rowling shares a personal revelation in response to a simple doodle of Prof. Spout—is a knockout. Brief scenes of illustrated genitalia; suitable for all audiences.
VERDICT An undeniable treat for Potter fans and an indispensable reminder to all libraries, museums, and archives that connecting to the Potterverse is an ideal way to promote themselves as the places where magic lives.
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