By Caitlyn Collins | July 14, 2011
Writer: Steve Kloves (screenplay), J.K. Rowling (novel)
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith
I first got into the Harry Potter series after my brother Chris harped at me for months to read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He had received the book for his sixteenth birthday from our grandmother, and I just could not believe he had been given what I deemed a silly children’s novel. Oh how wrong I was to scoff. I read the first book over a weekend while home for college and begged him to let me borrow the second. And so it began, my love of Harry Potter. I still remember exactly where I was when I finished reading the seventh book. Despite being on vacation with my then boyfriend and his family, all I wanted was to sit quietly alone finishing not just the novel but the series. Luckily, someone else in the group had just finished the seventh book and knew precisely how I felt!
I can vividly recall seeing the first Harry Potter film as well. I had just moved to Austin to start college and, despite being seventeen, entered the Alamo Drafthouse for the first time. My cousins and I went to the midnight screening because we couldn’t wait to see the film.
Like most people that see film adaptations of books subsequent to reading them, I always prefer the book. While the novels that comprise the Harry Potter series increasingly became harder to put down, the storyline becoming more complex with each book, the same cannot be said of the movies. The films had their ups and downs given the various directors; I liked some more than others. This film heavily relies on knowledge of the book(s). At the very least the prior films should be screened before viewing Part 2. If you haven’t done either, stay home and as you’ll be utterly confused.
David Yates, director of the last four films in the series, has directed by far the best Harry Potter film with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. I was thrilled to learn that the seventh book would span two films, as I believe this could have easily been done with the last three books. Part 1 pales in comparison to Part 2, partly because it’s the end. But also, there were several incredibly bizarre liberties taken with the first party of the story.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 frames the ultimate wand duel between Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe). Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) piece together the last of the horcruxes and most of their locations. Aided by Griphook (Warwick Davis) the friends break into Gringotts in order to raid the vault of Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). The rest of the film takes place at Hogwarts and the surrounding land, the Forbidden Forest.
A significant part of what makes this film so fantastic is that everyone has grown up, and as a result have become better actors. And while the actors have matured, so have the characters. For instance, Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) transitions into the leader of Dumbledore’s Army with Harry’s absence. He began the series barely able to say his name in front of people, and now he’s looked up to as a hero. The three central figures – Harry, Ron and Hermoine – have visibly matured throughout the series. The only character that fails to grow any if at all is Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). Her personality is rather dull despite the chaos of the final installment.
As with any epic battle, there are many injuries and, tragically, more than one death. Several people are also brought back to life, momentarily, to provide warmth and comfort for Harry as he makes the bravest decision of his life. This was one of the most touching scenes. With death comes heartbreak for Harry, but also clarification. This installment decides once and for all if Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is on Harry’s side, or if he truly remains a Death Eater, a follower of the Dark Lord.
I was rather surprised the epilogue was included. Unfortunately, the main figures, while they have grown up, still looked rather young and poorly made up for the final scene. And I’m not entirely sure why this was the only film shot in 3D. I don’t think it strengthened the film in any way, but I was relieved to find I wasn’t distracted by it either.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 marks the end of an era, and one I’ve joyously been a part of for the last decade. Thanks, Chris, for talking me into reading the book and for driving to Austin to see the film with me! I can’t wait to see it again!