November 20, 2010

The End is Near

Lynn was right. 20 seconds into Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, I was weeping as a young witch cast a spell to erase her parents memories of her. Reading the book and watching the movie was an odd mixture of excitement, anxiety, dread, and grief. It was the same experience as seeing The Lord of the Rings trilogy end. How appropriate that this penultimate Harry Potter film is like the hobbits' quest to destroy the One Ring. (Even the horcrux locket makes its bearer angry and confrontational.)

While I was initially annoyed that they decided to make the last book into 2 movies, I understand why it was necessary. The voluminous final chapter cannot be made into one film. Kudos to director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves. The screenplay has the usual rapier wit (translation: repeat viewings to catch all the funny lines) while exploring dark themes of racism, prejudice, intolerance, and the tragedy of war. The Nazi-like soldiers, the bounty hunters, the atmosphere inside the Ministry of Magic---chilling. The movie also packs an emotional punch. And from an unexpected source. In a word, Dobby. And as HP readers know, there are more to come.

The world outside Hogwarts, like the real-life grown-up world, is scary. This is definitely not for little children anymore. The movie's palette is bluish gray, starkly beautiful, enhancing the isolation of Harry, Hermione and Ron as they try to find and destroy the Horcruxes. Their road trip of a (possibly shortened) lifetime will of course lead them to the Deathly Hallows, the most powerful objects in the wonderful but dangerous world of wizardry.

Favorites? The animation piece that recounted the tale of the Three Brothers was spectacular. The three actors who played the Ministry of Magic workers were spot-on. The 7 Harrys. The scene at Grimmauld Place where Hermione says they are alone. I loved seeing all the young lead actors come into their own. We get glimpses of the older characters, but this movie is theirs. Harry's solitude as the Chosen One; Hermione's loneliness and frustration, a talented witch not fully accepted by the wizarding world; Ron caught between his loyalty and jealousy towards his best friend. And of course, Dobby. I'm sorry I ever thought you were the Jar Jar Binks of the Potterverse.

This movie is like The Two Towers. It sets up the climactic, epic good vs. evil battle in the next installment. At least we Potterites have something to look forward to next year.

(photo from MoviePosterdb)


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