James Helsby

LRE #45: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

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Little Red Envelope

In my mailbox this week:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Release Year: 2010

Staring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

The second to last installment in the Harry Potter film series, makes me realize I will be very sad when the last one finishes.

I don’t know if it is possible to spoil Harry Potter, but regardless I will try to avoid it. It is one of the most financially successful book series in recent memory, and in 2000 it was brought to the big screen in the first film adaptation, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Since then 6 Additional movies have been made, and one coming very soon:

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2001)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2002)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2004)
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007)
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 coming out this July.

If you haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter films, then it is entirely possible that you have been living in a cave. But knowing as how I know a few people who haven’t personally, let’s just say that they are fantastic fun films. The series started out very light hearted, very redeeming, and following the exploits of a then 11 year old Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger, and Ronald Weasley. The films have then chronicled their growth and education over the course of 7 years of school at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Each book/film in the series is a subsequent year in their lives, specifically a school year.

As the years passed, the stories got deeper and darker, eventually getting to the point of death, murder, and torture. But don’t let that sway you, they have also been chock full of adventure, intrigue, and excellent characters. This latest installment really is no different, although with it being part 1 of 2 it may feel just a little bit dry or at the very least, character based.

The Deathly Hallows Part 1 finds Harry and his friends caught up in the middle of a world wide revolution, and the followers of Voldemort have been given the power that they need. Harry, who is on the absolute cusp of 17 years of age (the age of magical adulthood, when all the spells and enchantments that have been protecting him his entire life wear off) is flighted in the night to safety, accompanied by many of his friends and teachers, who are there to provide extra protection. But Voldemort knows more than Harry et al think, and is there the moment that Harry’s protections wear off. An ambush results in the death of one great wizard, and one close fluttering friend (and the maiming of another friend)

Harry realizes that it is much too dangerous to continue the way they are, and determines that now is the time that he must find a way to finally defeat Voldemort. When the ministry of magic finally crumbles, all of the remaining protective enchantments are broken, everyone he knows is now vulnerable to Voldemort’s attacks. Harry must set out to find the final remaining horcruxes, trinkets that lord Voldemort believes he cunningly hid portions of his soul in, protecting him from death. It isn’t until all the horcruxes have been destroyed that Lord Voldermort can finally be killed. But Harry has no idea what the horcruxes look like, let alone how then can be destroyed.

Luckily Dumbledore left clues for Harry to follow, if the can decipher them in time. Because Harry, Ron, and Hermione are the most wanted fugitives in the world, and every Death Eater (Voldemort follower) is looking for them.

The great thing about part 1, is also it’s biggest weakness. Part 1 is just the setup for part 2. All of the plot development, exposition, and introductions to the story are carried out in this episode. While this means that Part 2 can really focus on the action and suspense, it means that Part 1 is a little devoid of the fun we have come to expect. It’s more of a traveling story, as it follows Harry, Ron and Hermione as they are fleeing around the country.

But that isn’t to say that the movie is dull; far from it. It’s actually extremely dark and foreboding. There really aren’t any high points during the whole film, just struggle. We finally see love start to blossom in unexpected places. We finally meet one of the two remaining un-met weasley children Bill, Charlie is still unseen and is probably not going to show up in the last
episode either. Part 1 feels more like the dull middle of the Fellowship of the Rings than anything else. Sure there are moments of heightened suspense, but largely they are just talking and moving. Moving and talking.

There are some rather intense scenes, when Hermione is being tortured by Belatrix LeStrange. Or when the horcrux fights back against Ron. Part 1 is most definitely the darkest of them all. As a matter of fact it’s the darkest visually. My TV started freaking out on the film, because it was so dark. The automatic contrast feature just couldn’t get the picture correct, and I ended up having to switch off the feature, and that is the first and only time that I have needed to do that. Maybe it’s an encoding problem, but the film was just too dark (visually), and dark (metaphorically). It’s depressing. But I love it.

The actors are still their stellar selves. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, Emma Watson as Hermione Granger, and Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley, are all just exactly who they should be. And perhaps this was one of the first times that their acting really synced up with the feel of the characters in the book. And while the book is significantly better than the film, I gotta say… They did pretty darn good with this one. Not as good as Sorcerer’s Stone, but still really well.

So, if you haven’t seen any of the Potter film, perhaps wait till Part 2 comes out. Then watch them all marathon style, and go see the new one in the theater. Don’t think that you can just pick up somewhere in the middle, or specifically with this episode. It just doesn’t work like that, you need to see the other ones before you can watch this. If you have seen them before,
then this one is still a must watch. And for me at least, it was a must enjoy.

How painful was it: Excellent, perhaps one of the best in the series, after Goblet of Fire (IMHO)

Rating: 8/10. Could do with some more action, and a little less pouting, but all in all a great adaptation of the film

The Wife’s Retort: Just as good as the others. Little less nitpicking in this one than usual.

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