Anatomy of fantasy–New book showcases the magic wands of the Harry Potter universe

In the realm of fantasy, magical talismans are often the key to a character’s actions or journey, part of the goal, such as destroying the One Ring in The Lord of the Rings, and they typically bestow power on their owners, such as Dorothy’s shoes that can transport her home in The Wizard of Oz or even King Arthur’s sword Excalibur, which bestowed him rule of all of Great Britain.  J.K. Rowling’s world of Harry Potter includes many magical objects, including the horcruxes.  Even more integral to Harry Potter’s journey and all the wizards is the wand.  A major scene in all of the books and films is Harry obtaining his wand from Ollivanders–“T’aint no place better,” says Hagrid.  And the wand chooses the wizard, according to Mr. Ollivander.

Sometimes fans must wait for all the information they want about their favorite films and characters.  It’s been six years since the last Harry Potter movie premiered, but fans of the franchise at last have a photographic guide to the key wands designed for the principal named characters.  This week Insight Editions releases From the Films of Harry Potter: The Wand Collection, including new photographs of 66 actual movie prop wands.  Seventeen thousand wand boxes were created by the prop makers for the shelves of Ollivanders wand shop in Diagon Alley, according to the book, quoting late set decorator Stephenie McMillan.  After the wands were each designed by art director Hattie Storey and concept artists including Adam Brockbank, Alex Walker, and Ben Dennett, then supervising modeler and prop maker Pierre Bohanna would create a single “original” of each wand, which would be later be duplicated in resin or rubber for stunt work in multiples depending on the need of the production.

From the Films of Harry Potter: The Wand Collection begins with a brief discussion of the in-universe use of wands as written in J.K. Rowling’s books, along with an overview of the behind the scenes production creation of the props with interviews of cast members and prop makers.  The bulk of the oversized book, an elegantly designed hardcover in a long 12 x 6 inch format to allow for close-up photography of each wand, includes a brief description of the wand, the character wielding the wand in the film, and discussions with actors, designers, and excerpts from the source books.  Hagrid’s lengthy wand is featured in a double-sized pull-out image, the wand sporting his trademark umbrella component.  Another pull-out includes multiple handles of the Death Eaters, and another includes detail of the unique handle of the wand of Jason Isaacs’ character, Lucius Malfoy.

We know from set photography that at least six of each wand were constructed for a character in each film.  As with any prop, multiples are required in case the props are dropped and broken throughout production.  Some were designated “hero”–for use by the actual actor portraying the character, others were stunt props or set pieces.   Daniel Radcliffe reportedly used more than 70 different wand props throughout the series, according to the behind the scenes features on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.  And thousands of background wands were made for the climactic battle sequences.

Choreographer Paul Harris discusses his “rules of engagement” for wands, movements for the acts to follow when using the wands in action, with actors supplying their own insight into their wand waving.  The wand development also included input from stunt coordinator Greg Powell and property master Barry Wilkinson.  The book was compiled by Monique Peterson, who has written several media tie-in works.  Included is a wand index–a handy quick reference for finding specific wands discussed within the book.

Everyone will have their favorites.  Professor Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, and Sirius Black’s are all unique in their own ways.  But it’s hard to match the detailed Elder Wand of Professor Dumbledore.

A nice surprise for your favorite Harry Potter fan who may have thought there was no more to be seen from the franchise, From the Films of Harry Potter: The Wand Collection is available now here from Amazon.

C.J. Bunce

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