As I sat in the movie theater waiting for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 to begin, I started to contemplate what Harry Potter meant to me and my family. A close friend of mine gave my daughters the first three Harry Potter books when they were ten for Christmas. We’d heard about the phenomenon for a while but had never really been that interested.
As we began to read the books, as a family, I began to realize the power that these books had. As we followed the adventures of Harry, Ron and Hermione in Hogwarts, our family came closer as we began to discuss the plots, and what the future held for the intrepid trio.
Not only did these books have the power to make us closer, but it helped my children get into reading, and to explore their own imagination. It gave them the ability to read and analyze a story, and we had many discussions relating to the characters and what drove them to be the way they were, and whether they would in fact change as the books went on.
What was even more intriguing was that at times we would discuss whether the characters would actually react the way Rowling writes the book, and also whether a plot line was logical, or a waste of time – for example we came to the conclusion that the whole ‘Sirius Black’ character was wasted – he could have been so much more than he ended up being – but at the end of the day we weren’t writing the books!
As we progressed through the books, the first movie was released and we were immediately excited and intrigued by the chance to see the books come to life. In a way we were daunted, because we had grown to know the characters and didn’t want the movie to smash our own imaginations. When we eventually went to the movie, taking our children out of school early to get to the first showing, we were amazed and captivated by the young actors that had been chosen to play the main characters.
Sure, they were young, and were not polished at all, but they were close enough to the characters that we had imagined and therefore didn’t spoil the whole Harry Potter ethos for us. It has been an interesting journey to grow up with these young actors and see them become professional and skillful at their trade, and it is with some sadness that I realized that after the second part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in July 2011, my connection to these characters would come to an end. While we have finished the series of books and know exactly what is going to happen in the next movie, there still isn’t final closure on the series until we see the ‘actors’ say goodbye to us on the big screen.
I settled down to watch the movie, marveling at the stark atmosphere and world that almost seemed post-apocalyptic – it definitely immediately gave you the impression of a world of danger and depression and one sensing evil around every corner.
The movies have become darker and darker as they’ve progressed through the series, and immediately you are catapulted into the darkness as a major character dies, and Harry and his friends are pushed straight into a world of fear and depression as they begin to realize that the world is a changed place.
I was immediately sucked into the atmosphere, could sense the tension and anticipation in the audience as we waited for the events of the movie to unfold. I’m a Harry Potter fan, but I have to say that the complexities of the story were pretty well explained for the regular ‘muggle’ who perhaps hasn’t experienced the Harry Potter world, and while I am sure some of the movie was confusing, all the key elements were clear. I especially liked the way in which the story of the creation of the Deathly Hallows was explained – the cartoon that told the story as Hermione narrated was stunning; it had the feel of a sinister fairly tale, and I would have loved to have seen a full movie using that type of effect!
The movie did have its slow moments, and while these were taken directly from the book, I do feel you wouldn’t have missed much had they removed them – but these were far and few between a generally the pace of the movie was excellent. It’s funny though, the slow moments again gave me time to think about the impact that Harry Potter has had on our lives – I remember lining up at midnight and waiting an hour to get the final book with my 17 year old girls – then four hours later, all of us yawning we finally had to put the book down – it was horrible to have to wait a few hours for everyone to wake up so we could continue!
Back to the movie…I was impressed with the acting in this movie – by far the best we’ve seen from the whole cast so far – Daniel Radcliffe was professional as normal, Emma Watson seems to have moved beyond the ‘raising the eyebrow’ and developed a great way of showing her feelings on her face – the most improved for me was Rupert Gint – his acting in the previous movies was simply a comical ‘face’, a whimper here and there and not much more – he really bought his a-game to this movie and has shown more acting ability in this movie than I would have expected – there’s still comic relief, but what I noticed in this movie was his ability to convey so much with a glance – mostly when dealing with his relationship with Hermione – some of the glances to Harry simply spoke volumes. He also bought a hardness to the role that hadn’t existed before, something more authoritative – a great performance!
I think what impressed me mostly about the movie was the subtle feeling it gave – there was a constant doom a gloom, but there was a great feeling of weariness that permeated the whole movie – not weary at the plot, but weary at the devastation, fear and power and the fact that Voldermort has changed their world and things would never be the same again!
This movie is almost a stop-gap movie though – the plot is well told, but it really is only setting things up for the next movie, explaining some of the complications and ending on a cliffhanger – even though you knew the cliffhanger was coming, and it occurred exactly at the most obvious point, it was still a let down and I left the movie anticipating the next part, satisfied that the movie was good but not really happy that I have to wait 8 months for the tumultuous finale.
There was definitely a sense of sadness as I left the movie theater – most of the people who were there obviously had followed the whole series and you could feel the ‘depression’ that the whole experience was nearly over…it’s been a long journey, one full of happiness, sadness, fear and frustration – it’ll be ended soon, and as the world of Harry Potter has changed, so has my world…
Overall I’d say that this movie was very good; it had some stunning ‘landscapes’ and definitely is one of the best Harry Potter movies in terms of cinematography. It’s strange, but the element that didn’t seem to prevalent was the music – this usually plays a large part in the movies, but for once the music seemed subdued – perhaps I didn’t notice the music simply because it was done so well that it simply helped build the atmosphere. The movie probably won’t appeal to non Harry Potter Fans, but it definitely set up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 2…