THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Class dismissed

With 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,' it's graduation time at Hogwarts

Harry Potter (Warner Bros. Pictures )
By Mark Feeney
Globe Staff / July 10, 2011

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Characters in series are different from one-offs. Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and, of course, the Hogwarts contingent: What we cherish about them is familiarity. Series imply duration, though, and duration means change. The characters may be the same, but because the events around them are different, so must they be, too, at least a little bit.

That tension between familiarity and difference isn’t really a problem on the page. Our mind’s eye sees what it wants to - Holmes’s deerstalker cap rather than any wrinkles. Even on the screen it can be dealt with. Baseball has Tinker to Evers to Chance. The Bond pictures have Connery to Lazenby to Moore to Dalton to Brosnan to Craig.

The reason change doesn’t matter for 007 is because Bond is a grown-up (even if he rarely behaves like one). The same cannot be said for Harry and Hermione and Ron. In fact, their not being adults is the whole point. Youth, even more than magic, is central to who they are.

So the 10 years that separate the release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’’ from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,’’ which opens Friday, matters, and matters a lot. Whereas the 46 years that separate “Dr. No’’ and “Quantum of Solace’’ doesn’t matter in the least.

In seeing the young actors go from movie to movie as they matriculate at Hogwarts - more important, in seeing them go from youth to adolescence to young adulthood - viewers experience a kind of reality that grounds all the magical doings.

Age on the page is an abstraction. Age on the screen is an artifice, a bit of latex on the face and talc in the hair. Here, though, in the “Potter’’ movies, age becomes, as it is in life, an inevitability - and something that enriches the series in a way that not even the books can match. Seeing, in this case, is more than just believing. It’s sharing, too. We Muggles aren’t alone in having to face mortality.

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