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Should I Watch..? Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part One
What's the big deal?
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part One is an action fantasy film released in 2010 and is the seventh film in the Harry Potter series. Together with The Deathly Hallows: Part Two which it was filmed concurrently with, the movie is an adaption of J.K. Rowling's novel of the same name. Unlike the other movies in the series, the film sees Harry, Ron and Hermione leave Hogwarts and attempt to locate and destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes - powerful artefacts that each contain a fragment of the Dark Lord's soul. Like the earlier films in the series, it was a huge critical and commercial success taking $330 million worldwide in its opening weekend alone en route to a total worldwide gross of $960 million. It remains one of the most successful movies in history although the second part would later overshadow it.
What's it about?
With Voldemort openly declaring war, the Ministry of Magic tries its best to persuade people that order would soon be restored. Professor Snape has finally allied himself to Voldemort and his Death Eaters while Harry reunites with the Order at Privet Drive. The plan is to allow Harry to escape to the Burrow - home of the Weasleys - by using decoys drinking polyjuice potion. Harry just about survives the journey with Hagrid but many of his friends are injured or killed.
Determined to put an end to it, Harry goes searching for the remaining Horcruxes alongside Hermione and Ron. Constantly having to flee from Death Eaters, they eventually discover a mysterious symbol and believe that it may help them in their quest. But time has finally run out for them and as Voldemort's forces move ever closer to Hogwarts, the three of them find that they are running out of options and allies...
Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody
Steve Kloves *
Release Date (UK)
19th November, 2010
Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Academy Award Nominations
Best Visual Effects, Best Art Direction
What's to like?
Whenever I've watched a Harry Potter movie in the past, there was a horrible nagging sensation that I should have been too old for this kind of stuff. But nobody would be embarrassed watching The Deathly Hallows: Part One which is the first in the series to get the action absolutely spot-on! Among the many treats in the film are masses of mages flying through the sky on broomsticks, a wonderfully intense shoot-out in a normal Muggle café and a properly climatic battle at the house of the Malfoys. This finally feels like Harry and the others have grown up and given us a proper, almost adult action movie. This no longer feels like a kid's flick.
The three leads are given the majority of screen-time and they all excel themselves. It's staggering to see how well they've adapted to the changes their characters go through as the years have gone by, as well as how much they grew at the same time. In fact, it's impossible to think of anyone else who could play their roles better. The continued additions to the cast - Bill Nighy, Nick Moran, Rhys Ifans, etc - all slot into place as smoothly as you've come to expect and the film seems to have turned the effects up to eleven as well. Everything looks and feels real which, given the subject matter, is high praise indeed.
- A scene was cut where Tonks (played by Natalia Tena) told Molly that she was pregnant. If you look carefully during the wedding scene, you can see that Tonks is wearing a maternity gown.
- In the café where Harry, Hermione and Ron end up after appearing in London are a number of posters, one of which is for a theatrical version of Equus featuring Radcliffe in the lead role.
- Madam Hooch (played by Zoe Wanamaker in The Philosopher's Stone) and Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh in The Chamber Of Secrets) are the only two members of Hogwarts staff to survive all the other films but not appear in this film.
What's not to like?
I realise that this will sound a bit dim but unless you've had previous exposure to the Harry Potter series of films or books, don't even think about watching this - the sheer number of characters and plot devices referenced is confusing even to someone like me who is familiar. Even characters we haven't seen since those long-ago kiddie-friendly films like Mr Ollivander from The Philosopher's Stone and Dobby from The Chamber Of Secrets pop up for the final reunion. It does give this movie a suitably grand feel (not to mention a genuinely upsetting ending) but if you've missed any of the others then you might not fully appreciate this one.
The film does sag slightly in the middle as the three young wizards track down another Horcrux and obviously, it leaves plenty for the final film as well. The film is a shock to the system by not feeling like a Harry Potter movie that much - Hogwarts isn't seen that often and certain characters are no longer around. But the film does an excellent job of bringing Potter's world into our own, meaning that Voldemort's plans would effect us Muggles as well as Harry's kind. It makes the wizarding world feel more believable by taking it out of its comfort zone and pitching it alongside a dark and gritty London, unaware of the dangers if faces.
Should I watch it?
Assuming that you are up to speed on all things Potter then Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part One is an essential film to watch. It offers thrilling excitement, surprises like the animated fairy-tale halfway through, genuine tension and unforgettable action sequences that would be good for any film of this kind. It also sets the stage quite nicely for the final film, The Deathly Hallows: Part Two. I hesitate to describe any Potter film as 'magical' because it's such a corny description but they really have pulled out all the stops here.
Great For: action fans, Potter lovers, people embarrassed by the series
Not So Great For: Tolkien fans, anyone who has missed any of the others
What else should I watch?
Obviously, this film and The Deathly Hallows: Part Two make up a Hagrid-sized movie so expect more of the same - stunning action, gripping storylines and tragic consequences. It's no overstatement to say that these two films together are head-and-shoulders above the rest of the series which I always felt were tainted by that shame you had that you were watching a kid's movie. None of the other films in the series are as violent, dark or evocative as these. They are, in short, a great way of ending a very strong series.
Comparing this to its long-time rival by Peter Jackson, The Deathly Hallows: Part One more closely resembles the final act of Peter Jackson's sublime Lord Of The Rings trilogy, The Return Of The King, in terms of sweeping action scenes and emotional finales. Coincidentally, like the Harry Potter series, Jackson's most family friendly film was the first one - The Fellowship Of The Ring - which was far brighter than either of the other two.
© 2015 Benjamin Cox