TF1 is broadcasting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 1) tonight. The opportunity for us to take you behind the scenes of one of the most popular sagas of the 2000s.
TF1 broadcasts (a little by surprise) the seventh part of the adventures of Harry Potter. While many viewers will undoubtedly rediscover the film directed by David Yates, we take this opportunity to take you behind the scenes of the unbeatable saga. Make yourself comfortable, play the music of John Williams and follow us through the maze of London studios.
We begin our visit with the most iconic piece of the saga, and also the most majestic. Inspired by the great hall of Christ Church in Oxford, the decor is made of real stones and could accommodate up to 400 people during filming. During our visit in January 2020, the studios were still celebrating Christmas and had for the occasion brought together the sets and accessories of the 4th opus of the saga. To give it this winter atmosphere, the walls were then covered with silver fabrics that gave the impression that they were gray. In several banquet scenes we can see candles floating above the actors, they were at first real, but were replaced by computer graphics, because they often fell. Walking down the aisle, we discover the sumptuous accessories created for the Yule Ball during the Triwizard Tournament. Continuing your visit, you will discover the dormitory of the boys of the Gryffindor house with the beds of Dean, Seamus, Harry, Ron and Neville. The set was built for the first installment, but with the actors growing up, the directors had to find creative camera angles to mask the fact that the beds had grown too small.
We are treading softly now, and for good reason. Since 2017, visitors to the Warner Bros studios can walk through the forbidden forest. This life-size setting has welcomed the actors from the first opus of the adventures of the little wizard. All the elements that were used in the film are now available, starting with the animatronics. In the first films, rather than using 3D, the directors preferred to create robotic creatures like for Fawkes, the Basilisk and of course Buck, the Hippogriff. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ron and Harry come face to face with a huge spider, Aragog. The magical creature, whose legs are 5 meters long, was covered by hand with yak hair, sisal and broom straw. To find out if the magic worked, the creature was presented to actors Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe who were really scared at the sight of this monstrous spider. To illuminate the forest and the characters, the team used different bulbs depending on the time of day to transcribe natural daylight.
Let’s now look at the costumes and accessories of the 8 feature films. From Chris Colombus to David Yates, the directors have succeeded behind the camera and each brought their vision of the universe. We start with Harry Potter at the Sorcerer’s Stone where the most attentive will have noticed a small detail about Hermione. The character has long teeth in the book, before they were planed off by a spell. To stick as closely as possible to the novels, Chris Colombus had requested that Emma Watson wear a prosthesis. The team then embarks on the filming of the last scene of the film, when our wizards leave Hogwarts at the end of their adventures, but the actress having a lot of trouble speaking, they preferred to abandon this idea. They can still be seen when they say goodbye to Hagrid on the dock.
In the fourth installment of the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione, the characters celebrate the magical collaboration with the Yule Ball. An event necessarily different from that of the books and in particular on the side of the costumes. In the book Hermione wears a periwinkle blue dress to the ball with Victor Krum, a color that didn’t contrast enough with the decor and that the director didn’t like. To match actress Emma Watson’s complexion, costume designers have created a pink dress that many young girls have long been jealous of.
In the same episode, Hermione and Ron were plunged into the black lake during the second task. To be able to film without having to worry about the time it would take, the teams developed life-size and truly realistic figurines. As you walk through the studios, you will also see a smaller figurine of Albus Dumbledore, it is strikingly realistic.
What would Harry Potter be without his famous scar? If Daniel Radcliffe looks a lot like the character in the novels, he has a big difference with the paper protagonist. To stick more to the intrigue, the make-up artists developed silicone scars. Over 5,800 scars were made in ten shoots and it was hardly a cakewalk for the young actor. On the mirror, we can read a sticky note from the make-up artists who asks Radcliffe not to remove it any more. The actor will also have created some torment for the props who designed no less than 160 pairs of glasses and 80 wands for the interpreter of the young wizard. A huge number when you know that the actor liked to play drums with it.
We continue our visit outside the building where we can discover Privet Drive. The street is the one that hosts the Dursley’s house and the little wizard’s room located under the stairs. When you open the door, you discover on your left the living room plagued by a strange phenomenon, many letters twirling in the air since Uncle Vernon destroyed the first missives. We now go out to discover the Magicobus. The huge vehicle really drives and was used for the scenes on the streets of London. It is also not the only vehicle in the magic saga since 14 Ford Anglias were painted blue to match the colors of the Weasleys’ flying vehicle. They were all destroyed during the Whomping Willow scene.
Our visit ends in front of the mythical Hogwarts castle. In a room plunged into darkness, you can discover the model that was used for the exterior scenes. It is 24 times smaller than the actual size. 82 artists and technicians were needed for its design and as many to maintain it now that it sits proudly in the studios. 2,500 fiber optic bulbs were used to simulate the castle’s torches and lanterns. To decorate the green spaces, the teams used gravel and real plants.
Our visit is now over, but the adventure does not end there. To plan your visit, here are our tips. For our part, we called on a tour operator with a price that includes the round trip and the entrance ticket. We had nearly 4 hours to discover the sets, a period that may seem quite short given the size of the studios. We therefore recommend that you plan more time on site to discover all the secrets of filming. If you have more time, you can also take a passport at the entrance and follow the different missions and thus visit the studios in a new way. For example, you will have to look for the few golden snitch hidden in the studios. We also advise you to plan time in the shop if you want to bring back a souvenir. The checkout line is often long.