The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
I Corinthians 15:26
Last night I saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, or, more simply, HP7. If you would like to go into the movie with a completely unbiased perspective, read this later. I’m not going to reveal anything that isn’t in the books, so if you’ve read them I’m not ruining the plot for you, but I’m definitely sharing my thoughts on the movie. It’s freshest in my mind now, so I’m going to write about it now.
If you haven’t read the books, I think you’re in trouble, because one of my thoughts about the movies is that each of the series gets progressively more disorienting if you didn’t have the background information. They’re done hand-holding you by explaining what’s going on. I recommend the re-read of HP7 before seeing the film, just for your own personal edification.
HP7 was the second film I’ve seen in the theater here in Delft. In both cases it’s the original language with Dutch subtitles. I find I have to make myself not watch the subtitles; they are a distraction. One thing I learned by being distracted by them was that they change a lot of the names in the translation. Harry is still Harry, but some of the lesser characters’ names were changed to something, I guess, more Dutch; or maybe something that in Dutch better communicates Rowling’s sense of wordplay.
They sell alcohol in the theaters here and I don’t think they’re too picky about what you bring in. Right as the movie opened and the HP logo drifted into view, there was the sound of several corks popping throughout the theater! Thankfully, there was no intermission—an intermission during a movie is somewhat traditional here. When I saw Eat, Pray, Love, it had a crazy long intermission. Not a fan.
I know there is a spectrum of how HP book lovers feel the books should be translated to film. I’m a moderate. I sometimes shorten things for a living, so I know they have to eliminate and simplify to get the books onto the screen. I understand why they make most of the choices they make, and I try to view the film as its own entity. However, extreme deviations from the books make me upset. She wrote plenty of plot; there’s no need for you to make more! There was in the film last night one scene in which I thought they were setting up a substantial deviation and I was deeply concerned (Tim looked at me with raised eyebrows, too), but luckily, the ship was righted and my relationship with the script writers remains the same. That’s all I’m going to say.
Some other thoughts:
- The three leads (Harry, Ron, Hermione): I love them. They are all fantastic and I think the way the characters have “grown up” is rather believable. The fantastic opening sequence picks right up with the three of them. I thought Snape and Malfoy were both excellently rendered in this installment, and you really get the sense that Draco is in over his head.
- This movie is dark. I mean, you know it’s going to be dark, but they’re not skimping on the awful. The scenes with the Muggle Studies teacher, the Snake/Bathilda thing, and Hermione being tortured were pretty grim. I had to look away at least once. I wouldn’t bring small children.
- Visually, there are some amazing images, some taken right from the book and others creatively imagined. One of my favorites showed our heroes walking through a burned-out trailer park.
- I think the audience really liked Dobby. I was surprised, since he’s always annoyed the dickens out of me. But every time he came on screen there was that general crowd “awwww.” To each his own; and, I do admit, Dobby is crucial.
- Everything has to go fast. The action has to keep coming at such a pace that you inevitably lose some of the sense of time passing, and the deep mental quandaries: Are the Hallows even real? Was Dumbledore a bad role model? The angst gets underplayed in the struggle. Again, I understand why they have to do this.
Because by sometime next year, they have to get us to Hogwarts:
Incidentally, I love this image, but I feel rather passionately that it would be stronger with the word “all” removed. Anyone with me?
My last thought as we were exiting the theater was the realization that I had been enjoying the musical score and wanted to check it out online. And I’m in no hurry to see the last movie—because then it will be over, and I hate when series I love are over.
PS Book club, I miss you!