Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (HP7)
Happy ever after
Ten years on from the first film and 14 years since the first book, the final part of the Harry Potter story has at last been told.
There are enough Potter fans out there for whom the movies are their only source of reference to prevent this review from exposing all the secrets revealed in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Those who’ve lovingly read the books, well, they know what to expect. You won’t be disappointed. I was on the edge of my seat.
Having at long last been allowed to unravel plot twists which have kept characters and viewers mystified, the director and screenwriter have all the confident joy of children given the go-ahead to open presents on Christmas morning.
Where Part 1 felt like a meandering walk through the Forest of Dean, Part 2 is tight, tense and thrilling throughout, never dropping the ball (or the wand) whether in action or drama.
Emotional moments which have been building up for years are given the due attention they deserve. Climactic battles scenes? They will blow you away in 3-D. While not all the secrets are explained, so many are that it would be pedantic to pick out those which aren’t.
Rowling has never been in danger of being awarded the Orange Prize for fiction, but what she lacks in writing depth she more than makes up for in ideas, characters and a genuinely magical ability to conjure up a parallel world of witches, wizards and muggles.
Here is also a mind at work which delights in the themes of very traditional story-telling: loyalty, love and perseverance are key qualities in the characters she so dearly admires.
Pride, fear and weakness are almost always at the root of those who’ve strayed into the dark arts. No one is inherently evil although absolute evil does exist. Even Voldemort, the archetypal villain, is given a back story which allows for some sympathy.
Second chances play a big role in Rowling’s philosophy. There are few who are beyond redemption – a view which I’ve always felt ought to dissuade those keen to boycott her books because of her use of witches, et al.
In addition, she clearly places great value on the power of sacrificial love – a theme explored in the earlier books where it’s given literal power and explored again through the actions of Harry and his comrades in this latest film. Rowling, it seems, understands the eternal, indestructible nature of love.
Harry and his friends, as the story goes, are searching for a way to kill their nemesis, Voldemort, a mission made more difficult because he’s split his soul into seven parts. This quest, which began in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, is complicated by the Deathly Hallows – three objects which Voldemort would like since they could help him cheat death and become the most powerful wizard in the world.
What all the other films lacked were the special moments of intimacy and insight which the last one, by virtue of being allowed to reveal all, has in bucket loads. As such, it’s very rewarding.
The lazy received wisdom of the Potter films has always been to remark, ‘The latest Potter? Well, it’s a lot darker, isn’t it?’ While the films have become more adult in their levels of violence, it’s really only the last two which could claim to explore the darker realms of inner pain.
If nothing else, the films have literally become darker. Some scenes lack light to the degree that I feel like shouting ‘lumos’ at the screen in the vain hope that one of their wands will light up.
To see how far the films have come do yourself a favour and watch The Philosopher’s Stone again. With it’s fresh young faces, Disney sensibilities and reminders of why The Famous Five were always so popular you can’t help but marvel at how we’ve watched those three children grow up in front of our very eyes. Daniel Radcliffe has bulked out to the point that he’s willing to strip down for a stage version of Equus. Emma Watson has shed the hair but now models for Burberry. And Rupert Grint? Well, he’s probably changed the least yet he certainly got the loudest cheer at the World Premier.
Yes, on behalf The Baptist Times I was able to attend the World Premiere in Trafalgar Square where, alongside journalists from across the world, I met the likes of Julie Walters, Jason Isaacs, Maggie Smith, Rupert Grint and watched as Alan Rickman and Ralph Fiennes strode along the red carpet (see the photos I took).
More than one eyebrow was raised when the name of the newspaper was mentioned. Perhaps the Christians denouncing witchcraft in Leicester Square had left a bad taste in their mouths. I was glad I could demonstrate that Christians can also enjoy stories, which are – and I risk being called a heretic by Potter fans – merely stories.
No matter how well written they are, and let’s remember that these aren’t, Potter is as likely to turn you to witchcraft as playing on the Xbox will turn you into a serial-killing sniper.
HP7 (as the posters like to brand the final film) is not a movie for non-Potter fans. But if you’ve watched at least four of the previous seven then this concluding episode will feel extremely satisfying.
(Photos from the premiere courtesy of www.alexbakerphotography.com)