DVD Roundup: Harry Potter‘s Riches, Nic Cage’s Rags

Every week, we shine a light on a few big, worthy or just plain weird DVD releases.

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Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II

Well, it’s over. At the conclusion of two mammoth, massively popular, decade-long projects — the seven Harry Potter novels that J.K. Rowling published between 1997 and 2007, and the eight Potter films Warner Bros. produced from 2011 to this summer — the final movie installment earned $1.3 billion at the worldwide box office, becoming the all-time top-grossing movie not directed by James Cameron. But the real cow-cashing continues. The DVDs, which unlike each $250-million-budgeted episode cost little to manufacture, are the franchise’s true profit center. Millions of fans will buy this week’s issuing of Deathly Hallows Part 2, if only as a commemorative fetish; and you can bet that some time in 2012 Warner Home Video will be offering an eight-film box set the size of Hogwarts.

(MORE: Richard Corliss says farewell to the Potter movie franchise)

We at TIME have written nearly as many words about Harry as Rowling did—Lev Grossman on the books, I on the movies — so what else is left to say? Perhaps just that the Potter pictures represent a triumph of corporate and communal filmmaking and classical, I mean anachronistic, style: of high narrative ideals, a mood as lush as the sets, an honor roll of the most distinguished actors and not a single wink at the audience. They were to 21st-century movies what Charles Dickens was to 19th-century novels. And at their center were three of the most serious and best-behaved kids in recent movies, and all in the same film: Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Rupert Grint as Ron and Emma Watson as Hermione.

(MORE: Corliss bids adieu one more time)

The Blu-ray edition offers a couple hours of extras, including just 6 mins. of outtakes, a tribute to the Potter women and, best, a 53-min. conversation between Rowling and Radcliffe. The fellow-feeling seems warm, familiar and unforced. If the author and star really hate each other, or if Radcliffe has gone the sad, criminal way of 80s sitcom teens, it’s not evident; he must be a finer actor than we realized. In a news clip, Radcliffe is shown in 2000, when he was chosen for the role. “I’m a tiny tiny bit like Harry,” the 10-year-old says, smiling more in this one press conference than he would do in the 18 hours of the series, “’cause I’d like to have an owl.” In the conversation, Rowling recalls that “We found Rupert and Emma, and they were perfect, and that was a done deal, we still couldn’t find you.” Seeing the boy’s screen tests, she says, “I found it incredibly moving; it was like seeing my son on screen.”

Among Rowling’s inside revelations, which won’t be news to the cognoscenti but are nice to hear all in one place: that Lupin was originally to survive the series, and Ron to die; that the one true love of Dumbledore, the Hogwarts headmaster, was Gellert Grindevald; and that on the day of the last book’s publication (also her birthday): “I cried as I have not cried since my mother died.” The main cast members kept a level head through the teen years, except for Grint. He bought a Hovercraft, a bright orange Range Rover, lamas and peacocks — “the Grint menagerie,” Radcliffe says. “He basically has done with his money what we said we’d all do when we were seven.”

They discuss the fervor of fandom with the poise of ordinary people who became famous so long ago that they can view celebrity with a smile. “When people are obsessional about something, on the outer fringes,” Rowling says, “you will have strange things going on that you maybe don’t want to focus on too much.” Fans of the books wanted nothing changed for the films, no scene excised. “If we were to make a six-hour Harry Potter film,” says Radcliffe, “there would be an audience…” “And,” Rowling adds, “they would still be complaining that there were things that were wrong. And they would want the director’s cut.” Rowling also reflects on the charge that books about wizards and witches promoted Satanism: “There are certain states in America where I don’t think I’d be particularly welcome.”

At the end, like a porperly reserved young Englishman, he tells Rowling, “It’s been a good 10 years so thank you very much.” Then Harry’s begetter and his embodier share a nice English hug.

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