Sunday, July 17, 2011

It all ends here

I have three half-written blog posts waiting to be finished and published before I leave tomorrow night, but the one that gets priority must be my thoughts on one of the two movies I saw on Friday - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.


The move begins right where Part 2 ended, with Voldemort taking the Elder wand from Dumbledore's grave and Harry sitting besides Dobby's grave. David Yates assumes, quite fairly, that his audience will not have anyone who didn't see Part 1, and so spends no time on unnecessary recaps. And while Part 1 was necessarily slow, just like the first half of the book it covered, with a large part of it having little to no action, Part 2 moves rapidly, with no time to breathe as the scenes move from Shell Cottage to Gringotts to finally Hogwarts.

The performances were amazing in this movie. Every single actor stepped up, and how. McGonagall is brilliant when she takes on Snape (although I did wish her voice had been a tad bit stronger when she sets up the protections for the castle), Alan Rickman blows your mind away as Snape, and Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort gave me goosebumps. The threesome truly come of age in this movie. Rupert Grint's facial expressions and ability to deliver one-liners were always a delight, and his face when he's running in the Room of Requirement is hilarious. Emma Watson, after a very long time, did not annoy me, and Daniel Radcliffe brings Harry to life in this movie. Truly. Neville Longbottom, given a fair amount of screen time in this final installment, does a brilliant job as well.

And to a very large extent, the movie stays faithful to the book. The planning in Shell Cottage, the visit to Gringotts, the meeting with Aberforth and finally the arrival in Hogwarts are all dealt with quite fairly, with only the occasional straying. I had predicted right after the first part that Dumbledore's story would be left out - if Voldemort's history wasn't considered important enough for the movies, why would Dumbledore's family or friendship with Grindelwald be included? When the truth about Snape is revealed, you will have a lump in your throat. I was never as affected by his story in the book as I was when I saw him climb the stairs in the house Godric's Hollow on Halloween all those years ago. A bit of creative liberty on the scriptwriter's part, sure, but oh, it worked. The one moment in the movie where I had tears in my eyes was the same as the book - when Fred, Lupin and Tonks are last seen.

And my absolute favourite scene in the movie? When Harry comes back out of the Pensieve in the Headmaster's office, walks down three steps and sits down heavily on the steps. The background music (which was quite wonderful, by the way) stops, and there's about thirty seconds of silence, with the camera simply focused on Harry, as he realises what he must do next. That's when you realise he really has grown up, and is ready to meet his fate, if you will.

Where the movie falters is in the last half hour - the final battle, in the castle itself. Which is a great pity, because in book that was unnecessarily long and rambling in places, that scene was perhaps the most tightly written and impactful scenes. But the movie takes it all over the place, quite literally. Nagini's end, the battle between Bellatix Lestrange and Molly Weasley, and the final showdown between Harry and Voldemort are all drawn out to such an extent that when the end finally happens, you don't even realise it - that's now little impact it makes.

But the best part of a Friday morning screening of a Harry Potter movie, the day it releases? You get a fabulous fellow-audience, full of hardcore Potter fans. The father and I were surrounded by college kids, who would have grown up reading the books, and who like us, had come to say farewell. So the guy sitting next to me, who had clearly come alone, was muttering just as exasperatedly as me during the final battle. When the intermission was announced at the worst possible moment (well played, you idiots at DT), at least four girls sitting behind me exclaimed in chorus "NOW? Seriously?!?" When Molly Weasley points her wand at Bellatrix Lestrange and shouts, "not my daughter, you bitch", the entire audience was clapping and hooting. And the epilogue ends, and the credits began to roll, all of us burst out into applause.

And so endeth an eleven year long relationship for me, one I'll cherish for a very, very long time.

Finite Incantatem.

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