I am a huge Harry Potter fan — that is in the sense of the actual written books. I have always been a bit lukewarm to the movies, yet found ways to justify them as the beginning of this series was written for children, so they tried to market the movies the same way. I was 11 when the first book was released, and that was when my journey into the wizarding world began.
But the final book was released when I was 20, so it’s an understatement to say these books were a part of my life, they basically were an institution of my childhood and that of the bulk of our readers.
Written By: Steve Kloves, based on the book by J.K Rowling
Starring: Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
The films have given us some good representations of certain scenes and been celebrated in their own genre as successful, however I always felt they never captured the true essence of the story or delved far enough into each of the characters the way the books had done so wonderfully. That all changed after I watched “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.” It throws away the nuisance of explaining the plot to the audience, if you are not a Harry Potter fan, you will be completely lost, and, in a way, they owe that to the true fans.
I was sick of the explanations in the films of the over arching plot that had to be spelled out to the audience because the studio believed no one had an attention span past thirty seconds. Harry is the chosen one that an evil wizard Voldemort could not kill as a baby. Voldemort slowly has been regaining power since Harry defeated him and has the intent of killing Harry and taking control of the world. Get it? See, that wasn’t too hard. Well, remember that if you haven’t read the books or seen any of the other movies because there is none of that background in this film.
The movie opens on a serious note as everyone is preparing for what seems like their last days on Earth as the credits roll and that is probably exactly what they should be doing. The story has reached a culmination and there is no time for fanciful pleasantries anymore. It is dark and gritty, and I loved it. We can see these actors finally able to exude emotion and if you have followed the series, then you feel as if you have grown with them through their trials and tribulations. Particularly played well is the role of Hermione Granger by Emma Watson who has grown into her role and succeeds in playing her emotions in an understated way that adds a depth of reality to this story of fantasy.
The film follows Harry, Hermione, and Ron as they venture on their own to retrieve the remaining horcruxes and destroy them in hopes of killing Voldemort (No, I am not going to explain any of that and neither does the film). In the previous film they lost their great protector and mentor Albus Dumbledore, revered as the only wizard Voldemort feared, and now they realize just how serious their situation has become. So we have our three protagonists on a mission, but mostly that means hiding in the woods scared of being discovered with no idea of what to do. They are no longer in the safe confines of Hogwarts and are very much in the real world on their own, putting to test all of their skills and resolve.
They have no direction other than cryptic clues that Dumbledore left behind for them. This is when the film really succeeds. The characters begin to break down from the stress and we see their anger and fear being taken out on one another.
Daniel Radcliff deserves mention for his growth as an actor and how well he showcases the struggles that Harry in still grieving over the loss of Dumbledore, fearing for his own life, and feeling as though everyone around him is in constant danger directly because of him. Harry comes to admit that he has no idea what he is doing and has no answers as to what they should be searching for or where they should be going. Rupert Grint similarly has cast away all the silliness of previous versions of Ron Weasley and is now trying to find his place in the mess that has become of the world, while also fearing for his family’s safety and pining (not so secretly) for Hermione. Ron also becomes jealous of Hermione and Harry’s intensified friendship in trying times as he feels inadequate. It is a splendid build up of emotions that becomes a major catalysis for propelling the plot forward and its resolution is not a clean catharsis, but rather further complicates the situation among the friends.
Although some may find these scenes lacking action as the “slower” part of the film, they allow for strong character development and real conflict that has depth and acts as a good balance to the action packed wand duels that are also captivating in a different way. Visually the film is shot beautifully with a juxtaposition of wilderness and the city streets of London and the opulent Malfoy Mansion — the CGI effects fit seamlessly into each situation. On a side note, you can kind of guess where the 3D effects would have most likely been placed had that original idea been implemented. Warner Bros. has stated the final installment will be made entirely in 3D.
The theme of the series is one of friendship and love. This film furthers that idea and mixes in serious elements and adult themes because the story now has a life and death severity surrounding every aspect as these characters are very much adults. It is even directly mentioned that Harry has come of age several times. The film breaks at a great point since they are taking one book and making it into two films. It leaves you feeling fulfilled as you were a huge part of the journey thus far, yet on the edge of your seat waiting for the conclusion as all the while Harry and his friends have been making some form of progress in their quest, Voldemort has also been making some discoveries of his own. So we are left waiting for the final showdown with Voldemort seeming even more powerful than before and far better prepared than Harry and his friends.
Throughout all of this, the film was very true to the book and has a completely different mood that is much darker than any of the previous installments. Director David Yates has done a great job of making the urgency, confusion and fear all seem pressing in a very real way while still encompassing the likability and familiarity of the characters and the wizarding world that has captured the hearts and imaginations of a generation.
If you are a fan of either the books and/or the other films, this is nothing short of an obvious must-see. As a book-fan, I will even go as far to say “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1” actually redeems the rest of the film series. It is a dark and at the same time beautiful triumph of filmmaking.
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