Since this post will contain some hits and some misses in the first part of the final film installment of the Harry Potter series, PLEASE EXPECT SPOILERS FOR BOTH. Fair warning, okay?
Together with my parents, my sister, and my partner, I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 last night. It was almost like a midnight screening, as the show started at about 10:30pm and ended just before 1:00am.
The first impressive thing I learned: the show was sold out. And this was a midnight screening, on a weekend, two whole days after the movie had opened. In hindsight, this was probably only to be expected. As the trailers advertise, it IS the beginning of the end, not only in-story but also for those who read the books. [At this point I'm not discriminating between the kids for whom the books were originally meant, and all the others - adults, families, parents, and readers - who fell in love with the books.]
The second impressive thing shows up as soon as the movie starts: the logos roll up in complete silence, and they are dark and grim, setting the tone for the whole film. Characters fall like flies, or reveal their hidden facets, and every single person in the film is pushed to their very limits. Voldemort plumbs the depths of evil, and of stupidity; the Malfoys and Bellatrix Lestrange find out what desperation is like; the Ministry of Magic falls to pieces.
Many commentators have already said their piece about the MoM sequences, and I can only add, "Damn right." There are SERIOUS World War II overtones in the story, from the puppet politician in charge to the security force with red armbands.
As for the good characters, well, just look at that film poster to begin with. Harry, Hermione, and Ron go on the run, abandoning families and friends and school and everyone who cares except for each other. This is not an idyll by any means. Things go horribly wrong before they start going right - and what little hope we have at the ending is squashed, hard, by the knowledge that the entirety of the Hogwarts sequences - including the climactic battle - is yet to come.
So many deaths. So many sacrifices. And we have to begin with the trio in flight.
Hits and misses after the jump:
- The scary and beautiful flight from Privet Drive sequence. We start off giggling and amused with the seven Harry duplicates, but by the end of it we're already starting the casualties list.
LONG LIVE HEDWIG.
- The lovely zipper scene between Harry and Ginny - and yes, that includes George coming in and happily killing the moment.
- Neville standing up on the Hogwarts Express and giving the first indication of his utter badassery.
- The astounding call back to the line "I must not tell lies".
- Hermione helping Ron after he splinches - and then, skillfully, calmly, raising the wards around them, bloody hands and all. Whoever said Hermione was a scaredy-cat will EAT their words in this movie.
[Yes, that includes the scene with Bellatrix: YOU try not to scream while you're being tortured by someone who already scares your entire world shitless.]
- The amazing "Tale of the Three Brothers" sequence.
- Hermione discovering the grave of Ignotus Peverell in Godric's Hollow. Best way to reveal Harry Potter's complete lineage, and the best way of completing the tale above, by showing HOW Harry's family has the Invisibility Cloak.
- The White Doe.
- Ron's return and the destruction of the locket. Note that for me this is limited only to pulling Harry out of the water, and to the actual strike of the sword. The part in between? BLECH.
- When the credits rolled, my sister pointed out that EVERY SINGLE MAJOR CHARACTER in ALL of the films was listed.
And with that, the Misses. Actually, most of my problems can be broken down into two groups. One: little scenes that were very meaningful, but didn't make it into the film. Which baffles me to no end as they were just people talking!
Two: FUCKING Steve Kloves. Your ship was COMPREHENSIVELY SUNK, deal with it!
- They should have included the scene where Dudley says a heartfelt thank you to Harry, heedless of his parents' disgust.
- Luna's prison cell.
- That dance sequence in the tent, which was totally unnecessary. They could have caught Potterwatch instead.
- That aforementioned locket battle - was it really necessary for projection!Harry and Hermione to MAKE OUT? I covered my eyes for it!
- AND the immediate aftermath of that sequence: they left out the powerful dialogue between Harry and Ron, the one that affirms their friendship and kinship for all time! OBJECTION! I quote:
“After you left,” he said in a low voice, grateful for the fact that Ron’s face was hidden, “she cried for a week. Probably longer, only she didn’t want me to see. There were loads of nights when we never even spoke to each other. With you gone...”
He could not finish; it was only now that Ron was here again that Harry fully realized how much his absence had cost them.
“She’s like my sister,” he went on. “I love her like a sister and I reckon she feels the same way about me. It’s always been like that, I thought you knew.”
Ron did not respond, but turned his face away from Harry and wiped his nose on his sleeve. Harry got to his feet again and walked to where Ron’s enormous rucksack lay yards away, discarded as Ron had run toward the pool to save Harry from drowning. He hoisted it onto his own back and walked back to Ron, who clambered to his feet as Harry approached, eyes bloodshot but otherwise composed.
“I’m sorry,” he said in a thick voice. “I’m sorry I left. I know I was a—a—”
He looked around at the darkness, as if hoping a bad enough world would swoop down upon him and claim him.
“You’ve sort of made up for it tonight,” said Harry. “Getting the sword. Finishing off the Horcrux. Saving my life.”
“That makes me sound a lot cooler than I was,” Ron mumbled.
“Stuff like that always sounds cooler than it really was,” said Harry. “I’ve been trying to tell you that for years.”
Simultaneously they walked forward and hugged, Harry gripping the still sopping back of Ron’s jacket.
Oh well. I've gone on long enough. I both look forward to and dread July next year. I hope the second part will be better. [There are so many things they will need to keep!]