Penultimate Potter Film Simply Amazing
Howdy folks, lucidswirl here.
The text I sent out after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One” around 2:30 a.m. Friday morning said, “Followed the book pretty well. Acting was top notch. Cinematography was excellent.”
The first half of the final book to Jo Rowling’s epic tale not only met my expectations but pulverized them to tiny bits even Hermoine would have a problem putting back together, and that’s something.
The film begins with the Warner Bros logo falling apart and a horcrux crying out from the darkness until Minister of Magic Rufas Scrimgeour’s eyes appear close up as he begins to speak He assures the wizarding world their Ministry will remain strong in the face of the dark and dire times being faced. The tone of the film further is more fully set next as each of the Trio individually prepares for what’s next: Harry packing his things and bidding the Dursley’s farewell; Ron outside the Burrow gazing into the distance and unknown future and the real emotional kicker, Hermione erasing her very own existence from her parent’s memory and home. Her seeing herself disappear out of family photographs stunned me.
Only then does the now iconic “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One” logo show as Snape arrives at Malfoy Manner to attend a meeting of Death Eaters and Voldemort.
The rest of the two hours and twenty six minute (I believe) long film was pure cinematic perfection. FINALLY we got our Harry Potter movie that stands as an outstanding testament to its source material.
From the set designs of the Ministry of Magic and the Lovegood’s home to the on-site locations used at the Trio camped across Great Britain, Director David Yates and his crew presented us a film that sprang forth to life a visual representation of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” in a way I never dreamed could actually happen.
What was even more greatly captured were the human elements of this tale, especially the emotional weight each of the Trio carries and the manner in which they deal with it. The biggest testament to this is how the horcrux wears the most on Ron as it eventually drives him to leave Harry and Hermione and later fights against him as he attempts to destroy it with the sword of Gryffindor. Seriously … that horcrux-projected kiss between Harry and Hermione was absolutely amazing. Plus, side boob!
All of this was aided by Alexandre Desplat’s score, which did not detract from scenes but added an extra emotional element throughout the film. His music breathes even more life into the film.
I must offer the deepest praise for the added dance scene between Harry and Hermione after Ron leaves, for it was nothing short of a completely brilliant idea from Mr. Yates. It was a beautiful moment captured and carried the film past the point of Ron’s departure and to the next segment of “What next?” as one friend simply decides to comfort his beat friend after everything has fallen apart. The melody made the scene perfect but the words of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds even hit home, as the song “O Children” to me on a very basic level is about the growing up of children, which the trio was doing. It was the end of that innocence and beginning of adulthood.
Also, production designer Stuart Craig’s idea to enlist animator Ben Hibon for the “Tale of the Three Brothers” was a great and unique idea. Plus, Ron adding that, “Mum always said midnight” and Hermione’s stare back was straight from the text and excited me to hear as that is something that used to be easily cut from the script it seems.
And I called it … the point in which the film would simply go to the credit and leave us waiting eight months to find the story. It wasn’t after Harry buries Dobby the Muggle way, with a shovel and no magic and decides Hallows of horcruxes, but I was close! But wait, it continues … and sets up the mood of the next film as Voldemort desecrats Dumbledores tomb to steal the Elder Wand.
Sure, there were changes made but the changes made to the book canon did not detract from what book-fans know about the series as the past has. Hell, several changes and additional scenes added to films breadth of greatness as it built character relations with each other (Ron and Harry talking outside the Burrow) or a character’s own self (Hermione Obliviating her parent’s memory). When was the last time you saw a Potter film and didn’t say “If only they had done this?!” within the first five minutes of leaving the theater? It used to be “The films stand on their own right away from the book,” but this time.
A film, however, is nothing without the cast. And this cast – from our old friends in the Order of the Phoenix and Hogwarts, to new introductions – was absolutely outstanding. While the others deserve recognition I want to focus just on the Trio.
Maybe it’s because we are not at Hogwarts but to me this felt so much like a character film and less like a fantasy film. The locations used only set up wonderful shots and scenes but it was the trio of Dan, Rupert and Emma that brought these characters to life as they grew – both apart, together and individual maturity – in a way we have never seen them filmed. This film would not have worked in not for them, each of whom has taken on other roles in recent years. Roles I can’t help but think helped their portrayals.
Rupert Grint has been allowed to take Ron Weasley from a goofy-faced-side-kick in the first few movies (mostly due to Kloves’ writing I argue) to a best friend who has his own emotions, talents and issues to sort out that are not just what Harry has to deal with. He has been given dialogue and substance Mr. Kloves tended to take away, opting instead for Hermione to speak more. Rupert Grint’s eyes in this scene really were mad with rage as he was ready to kill or seriously injure the two Death Eaters who attacked them in London after the escape from the wedding. His emotions continue to weigh him down after the Trio steal the locket and up until that very point when he walks away from them. “You’re parents are dead!” Shivers. His return and battle with a horcrux was just epic.
Emma Watson shined throughout the film whether it be as Hermione bid goodbye to her parents, take over as a well planned command after the attack at the wedding or even in dealing with a moody Ron in the Forest versus her brainpower working to figure out the horcruxes. I must mention her being tortured too. I felt there was so much power in her painful screams and pleading sobs at the hands of Bellatrix LeStrange. Or maybe it’s just the act of Hermione in outright pain and terror.
Finally, there is Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. He can flat out act and it is quite apparent after this film. All the work he has done – on stage in “Equis” and on film in “December Boys” and “My Boy Jack” – outside of Potter has set him up to take the character to the next and final level of the journey. Daniel Radcliffe simply is Harry. He has taken command and is ready to set out and destroy some Horcruxes. You feel his stress of the situation at hand as things unravel at different moments. There has always been comedy with Ron but Dan’s slight comedic side when needed really adds a bit to the character. It reminds me they still are kids out there doing what the can to fight Voldemort but even moreso, the comedy in the film gives a pause of the dire straights being faced. In the end, though, it is his maturity as a wizard and the determination he has accepted upon himself to defeat Voldemort and this is what Dan displays.
When it comes down to it, this film is simply the perfect Harry Potter movie. The changes made do not take away from what is probably the most faithful adaptation of Jo Rowling’s saga yet, though the first two very well could be in terms of quotes lifted from the text. This is the film I have waited to see for five years now while others have waited a decade. This story and world of Harry Potter given as the utmost capable visual representation one can give it. And just think … we have the whole second half of the book to come in July.