Is Queenie Goldstein Snape's grandmother

Behind the scenes of Harry Potter : Looking for the right magic tool

London Heathrow, baggage control. “You have a sharp object with you,” calls out one of the employees and stops the conveyor belt. But before you have dug your socks and cables aside, she winks. "I can tell from the shape that it's a Harry Potter wand," she whispers. "I just want to know: which one?"

Yes, which one, that was the question for hours on the tour of Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, 30 kilometers northwest of London, where all eight parts of the film series were filmed.

Right at the entrance, under a gigantic dragon, is Mitch Wlodarczyk, a 53-year-old woman with blond curls and incredible expertise: she knows everything, really everything, about - wands. As the timbers slide through her fingers, she explains that the specimen from Werewolf Professor Lupine has a moon for a handle and that ivy climbs over the staff of super geek Hermione Granger, Harry's best friend - the plant that symbolizes knowledge. She has not sold a magic wand as often as this one.

The staff are fanatical Potterheads

Who would have thought that twelve years after the last book and eight years after the last film a world could open up again, that another dimension would be added to the Harry Potter universe?

Sure, Potter fans can now stroll through London in the footsteps of the filming locations, storm the secret platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross station or look for the grave in the Edinburgh cemetery that Potter author J.K. Rowling inspired her villain, Lord Voldemort.

You can ride roller coaster at their own amusement parks from Osaka to Orlando, or check out which wand is right for you on the Pottermore website. But nothing can replace advice from Mitch Wlodarczyk.

"The magic wand chooses its wizard," the expert now quotes Rowling, as if it was already a foregone conclusion that - after all, by now of age - one will not leave this building without spending 30 pounds on a completely useless piece of wood to have. After all, shouting “Stupefy!” With him is unlikely to put the other person into shock.

Mitch weighs his head, she doesn't seem so sure. Everyone in her family has one, and she has four herself. Most of the staff are fanatical Potterheads. When the studio is looking for employees for its film museum, it sounds like this: "Is there anything better than grabbing your wand in the morning and going to work at Hogwarts ...?"

Daniel Radcliffe did his homework here

You should start the tour now, says Mitch. So in, through the Great Hall of the Hogwarts Boarding School, where the tables are festively set in the colors of the four houses, Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff. There should have been fans who kissed the floor with happiness.

Past the costume department, where Harry's, i.e. Daniel Radcliffe's, real stick-on scar is in a plastic bowl, next to it a post-it from his make-up artist: "We love Dan, when he isn't fiddling with his scar." with which Harry was made to grow webbed feet for a diving scene: with fine women's tights!

No, Harry's wand spell doesn't want to skip over to one today, even though Mitch just said so nicely that Radcliffe needed 80 of them in ten years of filming. He liked to use them as drumsticks.

Radcliffe and his colleagues didn't just shoot the films in these halls. They got older, did their real homework in the wrong classrooms, really lounged in the Gryffindor common room during breaks. They grew out of the original boarding school beds in the dormitory so quickly that from film number four onwards they can only be seen sitting in them.

In general, this is a place where the worlds blur. The sweets that Harry and his friends nibble on the train are sold for real. For example, beans of all flavors, really all, including vomit.

What Mitch and Queenie Goldstein have in common

It is above all the 30-year-olds now, says Mitch, who grew up with the Harry Potter books and who camped in front of the bookstores when a new volume was published, who no longer want to leave this world to which they finally gain access .

Once a young woman disguised herself as Harry's owl Hedwig, but by the end of the tour the bird had lost all of its feathers and was only standing in front of Mitch in a pink swimsuit. Another time a grown man came to their booth, perfectly disguised. "Good morning, Professor Snape," Mitch played along.

Or did she not play at all? The worlds blur with Mitch too: Her favorite wand belongs to Queenie Goldstein (a character from the prequel films “Fantastic Beasts”, which came out in recent years) because, like Mitch, she fell in love with a man of Polish descent .

Next, an awesome step into Headmaster Albus Dumbledore's office. It is a bit disenchanted when one realizes that the many books are only English telephone books wrapped in leather. But no, Dumbledore's Elder Wand, the most powerful wand of all, you shouldn't trust yourself, that would really be measured.

Now you would like to have a sharp weapon with you

So maybe seek inspiration from Potions teacher Snape. His hair and robes, you can find out here, are not black, but deep blue - that looks even darker on the canvas. You can actually read the textbooks in the classroom, they were written especially for the films.

A few stops further in front of the hut of the half-giant Hagrid you finally understand how the film producers made him so great: scenes with him were shot in a hut where everything is tiny - that's how he looks gigantic. Scenes with others in a massive hut, that's how they look small.

Still no idea which wand it should be. Although now, when entering the “Forbidden Forest”, one would like to have some pointed weapon stuck in one's cloak. Fog settles on the ground, a five meter tall spider crawls roaring out of the undergrowth. Because the technology was not that advanced, especially in the early Potter films, many effects like this one are made mechanically.

Does anyone even dare to take the wands of the bad guys home with them? Lots! Says Mitch, presenting the terrifying specimen of Lord Voldemort with a hook at the end. So, explains the expert, the staff works like an extended arm, a symbol of the superior power of this magician.

Have a sip of Butterbeer and over to the Weasleys!

Another symbol that, despite all the years as a fan, one had not understood: Voldemort's costume consists of seven layers of green. They represent the seven parts of his soul that he has split off into so-called horcruxes. The more of these objects Harry and his friends destroy, the paler Voldemort becomes, the more layers of his robe he loses. By the way, his nose is also lying around in the studios, it is just a few stick-on particles that later become the snake-like structure on the computer, in front of which the audience is particularly scared.

Maybe a sip of Butterbeer will help you decide. In the film studios they serve a sweet caramel shower with whipped cream in jugs - alcohol-free. And while you look after a woman who has made a dress from the headlines of the "Daily Prophet" for the occasion of your visit, an idea comes up: over to the Weasleys!

Every magic wand does it, no novel in world literature has produced a more loving family than that of Harry's best friend Ron. The Burrow, as the bizarre house of this clan is called, has an adventurous statics, in a real world it would collapse immediately. Independent knives chop carrots, pans wash themselves off by themselves.

You finally understand how to tell the twin brothers apart: Fred is on the left and George on the right - except for the times when the actors swapped places to annoy their colleagues. The scenes had to be re-shot. A Weasley wand, then? Kind of harmless.

Sirius Black? It could be

There is no time left for a ride on the broom in front of the green screen or to count the 30,000 plastic parts of the mighty chandelier in the Gringotts magician's bench.

Just walk around the 1:24 scale model from Hogwarts. The producers needed around 160 tons of styrofoam to produce the rubble for the destruction of the castle at the end of the row. The real Hogwarts Express, built in 1937, withdrawn from circulation in 1963 and repainted from green to red to match the cover of the first book, doesn't answer the question of the right magic wand either.

The train just continues to push steam into the station hall, through which children in magical cloaks romp. Or are they just English school uniforms?

Travel tips for Leavesden

Get there

From Euston Station in London, take the train to Watford, from where there is a free shuttle to Warner Studios every 20 minutes. Admission costs just under 55 euros for adults and 44 euros for children. Tickets must be booked in advance at harry-potter.london-studio-tours.com.

Accommodation

In the nearby five-star resort The Grove, thegrove.co.uk, from 300 euros in a double room or from 120 euros in the Mercure North Watford.

Get along

The Harry Potter films are currently available on Amazon Prime. On December 25th the marathon with all films begins at 5.10 a.m. on Sky Cinema. "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" runs on December 25th. 2019 at 8:15 p.m. on ProSieben.

The trip was supported by Warner Bros.

Get around

Harry Potter tours are now available in many places around the world. In London you can take a walk to the filming locations on your own, information for example at: diegradwanderung.de/free-harry-potter-walk-london. The play "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" will start in Hamburg from February 2020.

Mitch takes an angular, rune-chiseled staff out of his velvet-covered box. "Sirius Black," she whispers. One of your loved ones! Harry Potter's godfather sat innocently behind bars for years, the design picks up on his tattoos. It could be!

In the end, the choice fell on ...

London Heathrow, baggage carousel. "It's Newt Scamander's wand," one whispers to the security woman over the tape. The main character of the new films from the Potter universe, three more parts are in the works. "Clever," Mitch had said, "that'll give you a few more years of it." And noted that actor Eddie Redmayne needed special instruction from a choreographer because he was so clumsy with his wand.

“Enjoy the beans of all flavors,” calls the employee at the airport afterwards. So she had discovered that in her hand luggage, too. Now everyone has heard.

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