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Harry Potter and the Beginning of the End: Reviewing The Deathly Hallows
A review of the latest saga of the young wizard
Unless countless other fans of Harry James Potter, I don't wear Hogwarts School costumes and pretend to be a member of Gryffindor House.
I've never tried Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans or butter beer.
I don't have a wand with a phoenix core, or any wand for that matter.
In fact, I'm not even British, or have been anywhere near that island.
But that hasn't stopped me from being a huge fan of that bespectaled orphan and the wizarding world that has been such a big part of our culture this century.
It's been the movies that I've particularly been nuts about, which was why I was anxiously waiting for this latest chapter, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, for over a year.
Directed by David Yates in his third turn at the helm of this franchise, having directed the previous two installments, Order of the Phoenix and Half Blood Prince, and written by Steve Kloves, this penultimate film of the series did not disappoint.
In fact, it exceeded expectations by a long way.
In an interview that Tom Felton, who portrays Harry's rival Draco Malfoy, gave, he said that Deathly Hallows: Part One was going to blow all of the other Potter movies away.
Within the first few minutes of seeing the film, I was more than convinced that Felton was right, so much so that I strongly felt that Deathly Hallows: Part One was better than all of the previous Harry Potter films combined.
It's safe to say that it made all of the other movies like Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban pale in comparison.
One reason this was the case was the cinematography and the scenery; it was absolutely gorgeous.
The various places that Harry, Ron and Hermione - played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson respectively - camped as they were searching for Horcruxes, pieces of the evil Lord Voldemort's soul that they had to destroy in order to have any chance of finishing him, took my breath away. Those rolling hills, moors and cliffs where those three young wizards pitched their tent made me want to get on the next British Airways flight.
What especially riveted me to my theater seat as I was watching the film was that unlike Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, an extremely good film in itself, Deathly Hallows: Part One was not a children's flick, but rather an epic movie along the lines of Mel Gibson's Oscar-Winning Braveheart, which had similar themes of fighting tyranny and oppression and the quest for freedom.
The fact that the genres of the seven movies released to date - with the eighth, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, set to come out in July of 2011 - changed over time from being for children and pre-teens, to being for teenagers, to being an epic drama geared for a young adult audience was another attraction for me. I loved seeing Daniel, Rupert, Emma, and their young mates grow up and evolve as actors during the ten years they played those now-iconic characters of J.K. Rowling's books.
I previously wrote that those three protagonists were the Beatles of the child star world, and this movie did not change my opinion of that.
Ever since Sorcerer's Stone, I have felt that Daniel's Harry looked like a young John Lennon with those ever present granny glasses. I likened this latest turn to the Abbey Road album, because the plot was far more mature and sophisticated than that first movie back in 2001, which incidentally would best be compared to the Fab Four's "Love Me Do", "Please Please Me" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand".
It would have been a good idea to have Daniel, Rupert and Emma do that famous walk across the street that John, Paul, George and Ringo did for that Abbey Road album cover; that would have been cool to see as it would've shown that they were deserving of that Beatle-like status.
There were three scenes that I especially enjoyed:
1. The animated depiction of the tale of the Three Brothers, who were the original owners of the Deathly Hallows, and how they came to possess those artifacts. It was beautiful filmaking and told the story exquisitely.
2. The point of the movie where Harry and Hermione danced to relieve the stress and low morale that they were in due to Ron storming out on them after a fight with Harry, as well as the difficulty of finding those Horcruxes. It perfectly depicted how they were trying to blow off steam in light of what they were going through, and...
3. Near the very beginning of the film when Harry, Ron and Hermione were preparing to start their odyssey, comtemplating the likely hardships that they were going to face and the possibility that they might not survive. Hermione was in particular anguish as she was wiping out her parents' memories of her, the pictures of their daughter disappearing around the living room as she shed a few tears and walked out of her house join Harry; Kudos to Emma Watson for depicting that emotion so well.
Compared to the dangers and adventures that they went through in Sorcerer's Stone, when they were wee little tykes, It was clearly plain to see that Deathly Hallows: Part One is, at its core, about growing up.
The fact that they were out of Hogwarts and fending for themselves, while they were running aroung England and putting their lives on the line, was enough of an illustration of Hermione, Ron, and Harry coming of age.
There's an old rule of show business that's been around for well over 100 years: Always leave them wanting more.
That notion of wanting more was the most significant impact that this movie had on me, as even before it ended one of my prevaling thoughts was, "I'm desperate! I want to see the second part of this right now!"
In fact, the one bad thing that I can say about this penultimate film of the Harry Potter saga is that like the countless millions of fans out there, I am forced to wait until next summer for the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two, which could also be called Harry Potter and the Final Battle as it will feature the wizarding world's version of Armageddon between the good witches and wizards and their Nazi-like counterparts, the Death Eaters, along with the final climatic showdown between Harry and the Adolf Hitler of his world, Lord Voldemort (played by Ralph Fiennes).
I think it should go without saying that that eighth and final motion picture is something that I will eagerly anticipate as the release date grows near.
I'm also positive that for all those Hogwarts uniform-wearing folks who are probably even more wild about Harry now than when the movies first came out, July 15, 2011 - the day that Deathly Hallows: Part Two opens - cannot come fast enough.