Magic Happens

The Marauder’s Map in the Harry Potter movies. Warner Bros.

When designing the Harry Potter universe on screen, everything had to be consistent. It’s an elaborate world and just one slip could ruin the magic.

The filmmakers faced one major problem over and over again: the book series wasn’t finished. Half of the Harry Potter movies were made before J.K. Rowling finished the books. So when some things were introduced early in the story, it wasn’t clear how important they would be later on.

One complicated prop in particular needed to reveal a lot more: The Marauder’s Map. It is a magical map of Hogwarts’ grounds that reveals the location of everyone on it. The story map itself had a complicated design. It was created by Harry’s father, James Potter, and his friends Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew and Remus Lupin while they were themselves students at Hogwarts a couple of decades earlier. The physical map’s design was whimsical, and reflected the cunning, craftiness, good imagination and intelligence of its creators and having flickering, animated and handwritten lettering helped.

The map first appears in Harry’s third year at Hogwarts. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry uses it to discover Peter Pettigrew was at Hogwarts. It is useful, and Harry uses the map on many occasions after that.

Miraphora Mina, co-founder of the graphic design firm MinaLima, was one of the three people who designed everything in the Harry Potter movies. The scope of the map’s importance after Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was not yet known or that it will have to show parts of Hogwarts that weren’t known or shown in earlier films.

She solved the problem by making it a little more magical. She designed in such a way that when you unfold it, it’s a mystery 🙂 She designed the map with layers so they were able to keep adding new layers to the map, and new layers of school, into the design of it. Because it is enormous, the map is folded to make it travel size for Harry’s convenience 🙂 With each subsequent movie, different parts of the folded map were revealed, with previously unknown parts of Hogwarts added on. In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a whole corridor is added on the seventh floor. The map was based on the architectural drawings of Hogwarts made by Stuart Craig.

The souvenir version is pretty good too…

The coast is clear! Mummy is away! 🙂

We solemnly swear we are up to no good!

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