The cultural phenomenon of Harry Potter, “the boy who lived” began in 1998 when J. K. Rowling wrote “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” With each of Rowling’s book, people of all ages entered into a magical world filled with Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans, potions classes and Quidditch games. After pulling in $125.1 million in US and Canadian ticket sales on opening weekend for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1” it is clear the fascination with the story continues. This film marks the beginning of the end for Harry Potter. The last installment of the eight part series premieres July, 2011.
The film begins with Hermione (Emma Watson) using a spell to erase all memories of herself from her parents to join Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and Ron (Rupert Grint) to start their quest to destroy the remaining horcruxes. Harry discovers in the previous film that Lord Voldemort, who murdered Harry’s parents and attempted to murder Harry when he was an infant, split his soul into seven parts to attain immortality.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione leave Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to destroy the horcruxes, and thus Voldemort. They isolate themselves to ensure safety to their family and themselves.
Their adventure away from Hogwarts leave the viewers discomforted by the absence of the usual school robes, Quidditch, and perusing the halls of Hogwarts full of pranks and mischief. The unfamiliar surroundings keep the audience on its’ feet, with an excitement for what follows.
The pursuit of horcruxes remained a consistent theme throughout the film and closely aligned itself with the book more than any other films. Contrary to the last two films, “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” this film remains true to the book. The last two films strongly deviated away from the storyline in which true, devoted Harry Potter fans disapproved.
Both the fifth and sixth movies modified scenes from the book and cut important scenes altogether. The absence of Dobby, a house elf, who is very devoted to Harry, in the fifth and sixth film is an apparent deviation of the film from the book. Another example is the altered scene near the end of the book when Harry, hidden, watches Draco Malfoy, a Hogwarts student try to kill Albus Dumbeldore, headmaster of Hogwarts. In the book Harry is frozen by Dumbledore’s freezing charm and under the invisibility cloak. Although there are many inconsistencies, these are only a few examples.
This is the first mention of the Deathly Hallows and the Elder wand in the films. The “Deathly Hallows” are composed of the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Invisibility Cloak. The owner of these objects is known as the Master of Death. We see Harry become troubled as he discovers and learns more about Dumbledore’s distraction with the Deathly Hallows.
David Yates, who directed the fifth and sixth Harry Potter films makes no attempt to fill in details for viewers. This makes the film difficult to understand for those who have not read the books.
The film had a balance between the dark and haunting scenes with Ralph Fiennes chilling depiction of Voldemort and humorous moments between Harry, Ron, and Hermione, such as their trip to the Ministry of Magic and Ron’s embodiment of the character he is representing while under polyjuice potion as he learns he needs to save his portrayed wife from the trials in the Ministry of Magic. It is in the Ministry of Magic where they find a horcrux.
Yates successfully keeps the attention of viewers by filling the movie with suspenseful scenes such as when Harry dives into a frozen pond to retrieve Godric Gryffindor’s sword so he can destroy a horcrux, as well as when Harry and Ron visit Bathilda Bagshot, who they believe is a historian. Bagshot changes to Voldemort’s snake and almost kills Harry.
At the expense of the film moving at a fast-pace, Yates forfeited character development in some scenes.
The film overlooks an important scene in which Harry explains to Ron how hurt Hermione was when Ron left their quest to destroy the remaining horcruxes. A constant theme throughout all the books is an attraction and allurement between Ron and Hermione. Harry clarifies that the love between him and Hermione is similar to the love between a brother and a sister. This part of the book impacts the character development of Ron and Hermione as well as shaping the dynamics of the group as a whole.
The chemistry between the actors is unquestionable. With each release of a new Harry Potter film, the actors portray their emotions better than previous performances. This film, especially, was able to capture the romantic interest between Ron and Hermione.
In a scene in which Ron needs to destroy a horcrux, his worst fears appear to frighten him. Spiders, as well as false images appeared of Harry and Hermione telling Ron that Hermione is attracted to Harry. The scene depicted the fake, imaginary characters kissing. They appear to be nude, showing the shoulders and backs of the characters.
While some may question if this is age-appropriate, there is limited skin shown and the figures look “plastic” and artificial. Scenes such as when Voldemort murders an innocent school teacher and a snake feeds on her for dinner are much more shocking images.
Fiennes, as he portrayed Voldemort, encompassed the definition of evil throughout the film. Through every movement and spoken word, Fiennes exhibits a maleficent and wicked character. The viewers are left with an unsettling feeling in the final scene which Voldemort sneaks into Dumbeldore’s grave to steal the Elder wand to murder Harry. The haunting image of Voldemort so close to Dumbledore and the power that Voldemort now possesses with the Elder wand leave the audience wanting more.
The only disappointment for fans is that the final installment of Harry Potter debuts in July, 2011. For those that are new to the story of Harry Potter, do not start your future love for Harry Potter with this movie. This movie assumes the audience is well aware of the plot. True devoted Harry Potter fans will not be disappointed.