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Harry Potter fan-fiction-inspired film falls short

Fan-made prequel adds new insights to life of Voldemort

Photo courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

Voldemort: Origins of the Heir is an unofficial, fan-made prequel to the Harry Potter franchise. The film, which was posted on YouTube earlier this year, has racked up over 10 million views and runs for just less than an hour. It explores the backstory of the infamous evil wizard Voldemort and introduces some new original characters, while exploring their lives as the heirs of Hogwarts’ four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, and Hufflepuff.

The teaser trailer was first released on Facebook and YouTube in June 2017. The Facebook video exceeded 30 million views in less than 48 hours. The final trailer was released on YouTube in December, and it also received over a million views. The dark fantasy film was conceived by Italian director Gianmaria Pezzato and executive producer Stefano Prestia. Crowd-funded through Kickstarter, Warner Bros. approved the film after a private and confidential discussion with the filmmakers, in which Tryangle Films—the production company for the short film—agreed to accept no profits from it.

Ultimately, this film is a fan-fiction. It follows the main heroine, Grisha McLaggen (Maddalen Orcali), the heir of Godric Gryffindor who tries to stop Tom Marvolo Riddle (Stefano Rossi) from creating horcruxes—a very dark and detrimental form of magic. The film takes place at a Russian security base where McLaggen explains what going to school with Tom was like and what happened after he went rogue. She explains how Tom Riddle was an exceptional student at Hogwarts who seemed destined to do great things. Instead, he ended up working at an antique shop called Borgin and Burkes, where he used the clientele list to find the seven items he wanted to use to create his horcruxes.

There are a lot of elements that a viewer might expect if they were to watch a Harry Potter fan-fiction come to life. Voldemort is a complex character who was a charming and respectable student at Hogwarts, according to the original books. But here, the producers have written him as someone who was always pretentious and intentionally malicious towards others. While the storyline was a great idea in theory, it didn’t translate well in the film and strays far from the concept presented in the original novels. In the end, audiences discover that Grisha McLaggen had been Voldemort in disguise, looking for his next horcrux item at the Russian base.

For a fan-made film, Voldemort: Origins of the Heir was not great, but there are some things to be applauded. The special effects are very impressive considering the visual effects crew is not professional. The movie’s use of the plot of Voldemort’s life at Hogwarts and his conquest in making the horcruxes makes for an accurate prequel to the Harry Potter series. Additionally, the acting was impressive, especially considering that none of the cast members are professionals, either. There are, however, a few technical issues that distract from the film, such as the weird editing and cuts to different parts in the film’s timeline, the the audio being off-sync from the video and some significant details from the original movies and the books that are changed for this fan-fiction version.

The Harry Potter franchise is truly like the boy who lived: it keeps finding new life in unexpected ways. Voldemort: Origins of the Heir might just be the beginning to numerous HP-inspired films in the future.

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