On Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 1
Please note that the following post is heavy on spoilers.
Do you re-read them before you see them? I always do. Because I’m a nerd that way, yes, but also because it’s fascinating to see how even the smallest details are interpreted for the screen. I loved for example how Voldemort completely emasculates Lucius Malfoy when he takes his wand. And Hermione’s extendable bag that seems to fit, seriously, an entire library and wardrobe and that tent, that crazy magical tent. That’s all part of the fun, right? JK Rowling’s world and her details are so wonderfully imagined and, for the reader, so personally imagined, the cinematic experience then becomes not only about the story but also about those images.
Re-reading is also important because, more so than before, this film does not offer much allowance for Potter neophytes to catch on. You have to know your sh-t. They don’t hold your hand and explain the in-betweens. There’s simply no time for that. It doesn’t mean the story doesn’t make sense, it just means the backstory isn’t right there staring you in the face.
Also, if you are a stickler for adherence, this may be a problem for you. Relax. They didn’t f-ck around with the plot, really, but they did make adjustments. I consider them minor adjustments, sort of, for the sake of moving the story along. For example, in the book, they travel around a lot with the Invisibility Cloak. If you recall, when Harry and Hermione hit up Godrick’s Hollow to go meet with the fake Bathilda Bagshot, they apparate there under the cloak and transformed by Polyjuice Potion. In the movie however, they simply apparate. No cloak, no potion. And I have to tell you, I really like the line they wrote for this part. When Hermione fears that they’ll be recognised and laments that they should have come under a disguise, Harry says “I want to return to the place of my birth as myself, not as someone else.” Works for me. But like I said, if you are hardcore about the details, you’ll need to prepare yourself for some liberties.
And some omissions too. Because while Dumbledore’s seeming duplicity is a puzzle that Harry fixates on in the narrative, it’s definitely not given the same weight in the film. All that drama with Ariana and his mother and suspecting his sister of being a Squib, I suppose they thought it was much too complicated to include and too time consuming to jam into a movie that’s already 2 hours and 15 minutes long. Harry does remain however frustrated by Dumbledore’s lack of clear instruction, by the fact that they literally have no idea of what they’re looking for (until they gradually piece it all together), and of course by Rita Skeeter’s rubbish about Dumbledore’s involvement in the Dark Arts, but this is all subtly rolled into his growing sense of helplessness, their isolation from everything they know, and the tension that builds between them as the locket begins to drive them apart.
Some will say that the middle section, when they’re apparating from forest to forest and seaside back to the woods, is overdrawn and overwrought. I didn’t feel this way at all. The landscape is so beautiful and desolate and vast, it was to me truly a reflection of how hopeless their situation was, and perhaps more importantly, this was when our kids were at their finest.
Remember when they had no idea what they were doing in front of a camera? Remember? Well, they can act now! Or at least they can act better now! As one of my Canadian colleagues said to me after the screening – Rupert figured out how to do something other than blink hard when he’s shocked/stunned/stressed/or troubled. I had to laugh. Because it’s true. Come on now, admit it. Not that the effort wasn’t there, bless them, but it’s not like they were rivalling Jack Nicholson.
They have however gotten better right before us. Like, full blown adults. Which makes me want to cry. When we went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter grand opening in June at Universal Studios, there was an exhilarating presentation at the very end of the event. Hogwarts was lit up by special effects, with orchestral accompaniment and fireworks in the sky, and they beamed images from the films onto the castle wall, starting from when all three were so little, in the Philosopher’s Stone, progressing eventually to present time. Dean and I were almost sobbing at this point. As corny as it sounds, it’s like...they’re partly ours, and so what I’m trying to say is that when you see them onscreen now, in conflict, in courage, in companionship, with so much improvement, you can’t help – at least I can’t help – but feel very proud. They’re good! In the key moments, they’re even very good. And they’re very, very good together. It can get quite emotional when they’re together. These are perhaps my favourite moments in the film. The way Harry embraces Ron and Hermione when they return, safely, to the Burrow, from 4 Privet – make special note of Daniel Radcliffe’s look of relief as he realises his two best friends are ok – you’ll have to choke back a sob. Same goes for when he looks tenderly at Hermione after Ron takes off. Knowing she’s dejected and depressed, he invites her to dance and somehow they find a way to laugh together for a few minutes, a brief escape from the sh-t they’ve been put through, without any suggestion of anything more, romantic or otherwise. It’s beautifully and delicately done. I adored it. Similarly touching is the conflict and subsequent resolution between Harry and Ron and you feel deeply Ron’s distress when he hears Hermione being tortured by Bellatrix. These are, as they should be, the film’s most authentic details.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron, their caring for each other and the profound connection they share is so lovingly portrayed that for me, as long as this is handled right and respected, the movie is an automatic win. Because beyond the adventure and the special effects and the spells and the curses, their friendship is the foundation of this franchise, and the challenges they face, together, to protect it is what the Deathly Hallows is about.
Some quick notes:
There is not enough Snape. That’s to be expected though, right? After all, in the book, his full significance doesn’t emerge until much, much later.
Bill Weasley is hot.
Bill Nighy is hilarious.
Mundungus Fletcher is hilarious.
The Lovegoods are even funnier. Watch for them at the wedding.
I may have leered at Daniel Radcliffe’s body, not during the obvious part when he’s wearing a bra, but at one point he pulls up his pants, and, well, hello you know.
One part totally freaked me out and it involves glitter bodysuits and that’s all I’ll tell you.
Hermione has the most amazing wardrobe. Boots, sweaters, pants, coats, all of it, I want it.
And finally, because I’ve already gone on too long, and could keep going but you’ve probably stopped caring, please note that there are parts that are actually very scary, even for adults. I jumped in my seat at least twice, and at times the imagery can be quite disturbing. Might want to keep this in mind if you’re taking your kids.
November 19th. Go see it. And then we’ll dedicate one hour on the liveblog just to Harry Potter. Alright?
Attached – photos of JKR and the cast at the premiere and afterparty last night. Jesus. Emma, in person, her makeup, the body, those legs (!), she was magnificent. And her boyfriend George Craig was around last night too.
Photos from Wenn.com