Last night I took a trip into Harry Potter’s cinematic world again and saw The Deathly Hallows Part 1. It was nothing short of amazing!
Did it follow the book? Yes . . . and no. When do films EVER follow the books completely? Were there hokey parts? Yes, which were good for a few laughs here and there. Was there a moment or two that brought tears, even to the most hardened, manly man? Most definitely. There was even a bit of *gasp* sensuality between Harry and Hermione.
I was a little worried if Director, David Yates could pull this one off as his directing has left me desiring more in the last two films, The Order of the Phoenix and The Half-Blood Prince. But he does a solid, albeit unsurprising job. He’s great at connecting the dots; not too much in producing cinematic excitement. Don’t get me wrong. There is one moment – the scene in Godric’s Hollow – where the audience is on the edge of their seat, but it is fleeting and short-lived. I was hoping for more of the same, but it never came. Exposition trumps drama in this film, but it’s ok because we know this is all a set up for Part 2 and what is surely to be one of the most climactic, cinematic events we’ve seen on the big screen since Lord of the Rings. At least I hope so.
Daniel Radcliffe, (“Harry”), Rupert Grint (“Ron”) and Emma Watson (“Hermione”) give their typical performances but the film introduces new characters that rock! Bill Nighy gives a stellar performance (though brief) as the new Minister of Magic, and while the interpretation of Mundungus Fletcher isn’t quite what I had pictured in my mind, Andy Linden’s short-lived appearance and performance in the film was memorable.
But enough of the technicalities. What was the film about? What was it like?
Well, if you haven’t seen the last six films or read the books, it’s too late to try to catch up now. There is too much to tell to get the average Muggle up to speed.
In short, and by necessity, The Deathly Hallows Part 1 is essentially a lead-in to the grand finale and is about as dark as ‘kid’ cinema can get. There’s lots of death and even some torture, though the kiddies are spared the visuals. The audio, however, is enough to send chills up your spine.
Much of the film involves attempts to find and destroy a series of Horcruxes (vessels containing leftovers of Voldemort’s shattered soul). Voldemort (excellently played by Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters have taken up residence in the Ministry of Magic. Voldemort is determined to kill Harry Potter before Harry can find and destroy all the horcruxes. The mood is set in the opening scene where all we see is the face of the Minister of Magic, Rufus Srimgeour, telling all of us muggles, “These are dark times, there is no denying it. Our world has never faced a greater threat.”
As Voldemort’s dark mark becomes visible in the sky, everyone, Muggle and wizard alike, flees for their lives from the feared Death Eaters. This includes our hero, Harry, and his faithful minions, Ron and Hermione. There is a lot of apparating in the film and Harry, being the ‘chosen one’, is quite the sullen, hot-tempered youth. Ron also has a shining moment where he loses his temper and yells at Harry. It was good to see Ron lash out for once and I felt it showed Rupert’s true acting ability. Of course, those of us who have read the book, knows what the outcome of that little tiff is and the film doesn’t let us down. There are many unsettling moments when the three take up refuge in the woods; however, I was disappointed there was no explanation for the patronus that appears to Harry. I think for those who know nothing of the books, this should have been explained.
There is a lot of teenage angst going on here but it’s ok as there is not much else going on in the film. But that’s not the fault of the director. Let’s face it – there isn’t much going on at the beginning of the book, either. The excitement comes at the end. As it is in the book, so it shall be at the movies.
I must say the scene, from where Ron, Hermione and Harry disguise themselves to enter the Ministry of Magic until the time they leave, is classic, and Doby’s return, though brief, was heart-warming and poignant. There were a few scenes that niggled at me, one of which was the wedding. There seemed to be pieces of dialogue that felt somewhat stilted, almost like information dumping. Thankfully, these moments were very few. Surprisingly, one of my favorite parts of the movie didn’t come from any actor or special effect fighting, but rather from a wonderful animation sequence that tells the origin of the Deathly Hallows.
Of course the ending jars, and no, I’m not going to tell you where they decided to cut the book in half. And while there are many plot lines left to be resolved, I am reasonably happy with this film and can’t wait until June, 2011 when all the stops will be let out and this beloved series comes to a climactic end, which is all the more reason for me to savor every quiet moment this film has to offer. If I had to rate it, I’d give it a B+.