WARNING: Contains Spoilers! This film is not recommended for children.
Fans of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling should be very pleased with the latest movie installment in the enthralling fantasy series. While the decision to split the final book into two movies caused some uncertainty amongst followers of the series, the film was extremely well done. Not only did they stay close to Rowling’s original text, the filmmakers were also able to maintain the emotional integrity of her work. They were able to give Part 1 a definite ending while hooking viewers for the final installment in Part 2.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows carries a lot of weight-in emotion and in storyline. As the final inevitable confrontation between Harry and Voldemort draws nearer, a lot of loose ends must be tied up along the way. Harry, Ron, and Hermione must undertake a dangerous journey in order to discover and destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes (objects containing a portion of Voldemort’s soul).
The film’s emotional tone is much heavier than in the previous ones. It begins with a very clear depiction of the huge sacrifice that Hermione must make in order to begin their quest-erasing her parents’ memories. Then Harry is dealt an early emotional blow in the loss of his owl, Hedwig, and an Auror, Mad Eye Moody. A visit to Godric’s Hollow and his parents’ grave lend even more emotional weight to Harry’s delicate state of mind.
Once the three friends embark on their quest there is constant tension, danger, and frustration as they stumble about in search of the Horcruxes. With no clear idea of what the Horcruxes may be, they must exhaust every possibility, however remote they may seem. At nearly every turn, Harry, Ron, and Hermione are pursued by Death Eaters, Snatchers, and even Voldemort’s pet snake, Nagini. At one point, Ron becomes so disillusioned that he ends up leaving for a time.
Harry is nearly killed by Nagini then later is almost strangled by the locket Horcrux and drowned. All three of them are captured by Snatchers and taken to Malfoy Mansion where Hermione is tortured by the Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange and Harry and Ron are thrown into the dungeon. They barely escape with their lives thanks to the sacrifice of the faithful elf, Dobby.
Despite their seemingly endless danger, Harry, Ron, and Hermione do manage to learn some vital information they believe will help them defeat Voldemort. They discover that there are three legendary objects said to make their possessor master of death itself, The Deathly Hallows: the Elder Wand (said to be unbeatable), the Invisibility Cloak, and the Resurrection Stone. With this new information in hand, the visions Harry has been seeing of Voldemort’s activities throughout the film suddenly make sense. Voldemort is seeking the Elder Wand in order to ensure his victory over Harry. Whether the Dark Lord is aware of the other Deathly Hallows is uncertain.
At the conclusion of the film, Harry, Ron, and Hermione have only managed to destroy one of the believed seven Horcruxes, which leaves them three more to find. Dumbledore had previously destroyed one of them (the ring) and Harry destroyed one (the diary) back in Chamber of Secrets. One piece of his soul is living in Voldemort’s body, which leaves three to find. The film concludes with Voldemort gaining possession of the Elder Wand making things appear very bleak for Harry Potter.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was a very smooth rendition of a dark and trying tale. It contains excellent plotting, great acting, and emotional involvement for viewers. There was a touch of romance amidst the danger and the movie was well-paced with just enough relief between intense scenes. While this film displayed very little of the light-hearted banter shown in most of the previous films it was appropriate for it to do so. Just as Harry has grown and matured over his seven years in the wizarding world, the story has changed to reflect the much more serious demands of a world now openly plagued by evil. It is not a film that leaves you with a feeling of well-being at the conclusion, however, so if you are looking for an intensely satisfying triumph of good over evil, this is not the movie for you. (You will have to wait for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 for that!)