*WARNING* This article contains minor spoilers if you have not read the book or seen the movie yet.
It’s hard to believe it’s been thirteen years since Harry Potter “apparated” into our lives with the release of the very first book, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s(Philosopher’s) Stone. Since the seventh and final book’s release in 2007, readers have had to come to terms with the end of the series. But as Harry Potter came to a close in print, it wasn’t yet time for fans to say goodbye to the wizarding world they had come to love.
Now 2010 marks the beginning of the end for the film adaptations. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (HP7.1 if you will) debuted November 19th to the usual sold-out theaters of adoring fans. The film’s 2 ½ hour length did nothing to deflect people of all ages from waiting in long lines to be there at midnight for the first showings. Though I’d like to be a unique voice amidst the sure-to-be chorus of praise for this movie, I won’t be. This movie does nothing to disappoint.
Having left off in Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince at the brink of a new and most dangerous journey, the somber tone is immediate. In the final moments of the sixth movie we learn that Harry, Ron, and Hermione must embark on a voyage to find and destroy items in which Lord Voldemort has hidden pieces of his soul, assuring his immortality. These items, called Horcruxes, may be hidden anywhere and will be difficult to destroy, but doing so may be the end of Voldemort.
As Deathly Hallows begins, we watch as the overreaching and corrupt Ministry of Magic assures the panicked public that they have everything in control. We are then taken to Voldemort’s lair where he is meeting with his followers and we learn that they are going to make an attempt to take Harry Potter once he is moved from his home by the Order of the Phoenix. This scene is a sample of the darkness to come and a reminder that, no, this is not another kids movie.
Deathly Hallows reintroduces our beloved main characters beautifully with scenes of Hermione, Harry, and Ron quietly preparing for the hardships ahead and the certain separation from the ones they love. After the Dursley’s pack up and leave, Harry is left alone in the house to reflect on his lonely childhood in the cupboard under the stairs. Viewers are witness to a moving moment as Hermione, in a desperate attempt to protect her Muggle parents from harm or grief, removes herself from their memories. With the wave of her wand, images from her framed childhood photos evaporate one by one and her parents’ only daughter ceases to exist.
Scenes like these are great proof that director David Yates, also credited for the fifth and sixth installments in the Harry Potter film franchise, was the right man for this movie as well.
Almost immediately after the opening scenes, the action begins. Members of the Order of the Phoenix, now the only family and friends Harry has, gear up to transport Harry to a protected place out of the reach of Voldemort. Though the mood is anxious, a hilarious scene comes to life when Harry’s friends, after drinking Polyjuice potion to try and deter the enemy from the real Harry, begin to morph into his clones, their voices and clothes remaining the same.
Though unfortunately, after being attacked on the way to their safe haven, Harry, Ron, and Hermione find themselves finally on their own to not only keep away from Voldemort and his followers, but to spend time finding the Horcruxes.
Left to their own devices, Harry, Ron, and Hermione can only depend on each other for support and comfort. The three friends are in rare form, now away from the safety of Hogwarts. More than ever before we see an honest depiction of the now matured friendship that they share and how their strengths and weaknesses come together. Hermione (Emma Watson) is truly the star of this film. She has blossomed into the talented witch we always knew she would become as her knowledge of spells and protective enchantments keep them (mostly) safe from harm. After all these years of practice, Watson’s acting abilities have really improved. Fans of Hermione and Ron together (Hermionon? Ronione?) will be pleased as their relationship takes fold, complete with lovers’ spats and all. (A more awkward Harry and Ginny have moments together as well.)
Deathly Hallows parallels The Lord of the Rings trilogy in many ways as Harry and Frodo are both “the chosen ones” to carry the burden and defeat evil. Similar to Frodo and his temptation to give up, Ron must convince Harry not to run away from what they must do, telling him that this journey is about more than him and that it is for a greater purpose. Like the powerful ring in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the horcruxes begin to drastically alter the person who has it in their possession.
One scene has Voldemort playing on Ron’s weaknesses to keep him from destroying one of his horcruxes. Voldemort taunts him with visions of Hermione and Harry together, kissing passionately, and for Ron it almost prevents him from destroying it. (For the audience, I think these images are more disturbing than anything else.)
The adorable Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) makes her return, though hopefully she will have more major scenes in Part 2, and Harry, Ron, and Hermione travel to visit with her father to ask about the Deathly Hallows. The story of the three brothers which explains the Deathly Hallows is illustrated beautifully while Hermione reads it, becoming one of the best parts of the film.
The amazing Helena Bonham Carter returns as the ruthless and absolutely frightening Bellatrix Lestrange and at times, rivals Voldemort for his position as the true villain of this series. In one scene, she tortures Hermione as the others, hopeless, must listen from a locked cellar below.
If any of the other moments of this film aren’t enough to pull at your heartstrings and make you reach for tissues, the scenes with the loveable house elf Dobby definitely will. In a touching final moment for Part 1 and a great theme of the series, Dobby says how great it is to be in such a beautiful place with good friends.
This movie is full of everything fans want: romance, courage, suspense, comedy, action, friendship, gorgeous scenery, and a beautiful soundtrack to boot. There are giant snakes, frightening old ladies, crazy curses and spells, and deranged wizards. Any fans skeptical that there would be enough content from the seventh book to fill two movies may be surprised to find that they could have added more to this film. There were parts of the book that they could only briefly touch, characters that they could barely even introduce, and maybe not enough of the more seasoned characters that we want to see. (Quoting a woman behind me in the theater, “There wasn’t enough Snape!”)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will be a much awaited event, and fans will finally have to accept that this is the end of Harry Potter. Never fear, there’s always the theme park.