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I have seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. It's not a perfect film. But it is, unquestionably, my very favorite of the Harry Potter movies. And I have no doubt that, when I see it again, I will enjoy it even more.

A few non-spoilery, general comments: As I'd hoped it would, the film takes its cues from the novel and is dark, haunting, and adult in tone. It's by far the grittiest and most realistic of the films. The cinematography is breathtaking, and the three young leads prove that they've learned their craft over the years. I suspect people who haven't read the book may have some difficulties with the film; frankly, I haven't ever worried about those viewers, and I'm certainly not going to start now. Knowing it wasn't the novel, knowing it couldn't do everything the novel did, I had a personal list of things I wanted out of this film, and it delivered. In fact, it quite exceeded my expectations on almost every count.

Major Items

  • The presentation of "The Tale of the Three Brothers" is absolutely stunning.

  • The initial flight from Privet Drive, the attack at the wedding of Bill and Fleur, and the scene at the diner all are very well realized. The sense of peril is immediate and dire. By the time Harry, Hermione, and Harry leave Grimmauld Place to go on the run, you truly feel how hunted and alone they are.

  • Over and over again, the film shows restraint in all the right places. The changes at the Ministry are horrifying, as is Ron's splinching. The way the Horcrux pendant works on each of the three is clear. Ron and Hermione's evolving relationship is simply perfect. Ron's destruction of the Horcrux is everything it should be: it's his coming of age.

  • Everything in Godric's Hollow, especially the cemetery and ruins of Harry's home, appear exactly as I had imagined.

  • Hearing the radio reports of missing witches and wizards during a montage of the remote and isolated settings of their camp gave me chills. The atmosphere is as bleak and as serious as I had hoped.

  • Let's face it: I don't require much humor. I'm fine with unmitigated dread and misery. The humor in this movie is well timed and limited, though, and thus it's very, very effective. Perhaps six or eight times I (and everyone else, it seemed) laughed out loud. It never takes away from the story, and several times it offers release just when you need it. ("Three more to go.")

  • I set a new record for Earliest Crying in a Film, thanks to Hermione's scene obliviating herself from the memory of her parents. Then again, since I was still crying at the end, at Dobby's death, I guess I also set a record for Most Prolonged Crying in a Film. But nothing, nothing, is more wrenching than the split-second look in Molly Weasley's face when she knows something has happened to her son. Heaven help me when it's time for Part 2.

A Few Minor Items

  • I'd pay for another ticket just to watch Snape walk up to Malfoy Manor again. It's that good.

  • Post-Azkaban Lucius Malfoy is a changed creature. I love Jason Isaacs' subtle work here.

  • Neville may only have one scene, but he makes it count. I can't wait to see you in Part 2, Neville.

  • Remus Lupin takes care of business. Again, what screen time he gets, he makes count. And the mustache has mellowed, which is good news for all, I think.

  • When all Michael Gambon has to do is lie still and play dead, he almost works as Dumbledore. Okay, not quite. Still, it's his best performance yet in the films. Maybe that's because it only lasts a couple of seconds, and all he's allowed to do is hold his breath.

  • This film offers so many small, understated, eloquent moments. For example, the scene when Harry searches Umbridge's desk and stumbles upon the individual pictures of the Order of the Phoenix is masterfully done. There's Arthur Weasley and Remus Lupin (two of my most favorite characters, incidentally). Then there's Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore, both crossed out with a handwritten "X." In mere seconds, you're reminded of the life-and-death import of all that's happening and all that's at stake. Blink and you'll miss it, but it speaks volumes. The film has so many of these moments that I know it will reward many rewatchings.

My regrets are so few and so predictable (I wish the secondary characters had received more time, etc.), they are hardly worth mentioning.

In other news, I'm getting ready to head out tomorrow morning, and I'll be out of state for a week. I'll be online to some degree, and I'll certainly try to keep up. I do, however, want to go ahead and send happy birthday wishes out early to darchildre, doctorwho42, barbedwriting, and savageseraph. May you enjoy many happy returns of the day, my friends!

Here are some links, FYI:

* From Geek Tyrant: "Now You Can Be Frozen in Carbonite Just Like Han Solo."

* From NPR: "Harry Potter: Boy Wizard... and Real-World Activist?"

* Harry and the Potters have a new album of remixes available for "name your own price" download. The a capella choir (Dumbledore's Chorus) rendition of "Save Ginny Weasley" is a hoot.

"For instance, this new idea that You-Know-Who can kill with a single glance from his eyes. That's a Basilisk, listeners. One simple test, check whether the thing that's glaring at you has got legs. If it has, it's safe to look into its eyes, although if it really is You-Know-Who, that's still likely to be the last thing you ever do."
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling


( 31 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 20th, 2010 05:18 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the review. It sounds promising. So far my favorite has been Prisoner of Azkaban, for a variety of reasons, followed by Order of the Phoenix.
Nov. 21st, 2010 12:39 am (UTC)
I suspect our tastes are probably quite similar. I loved all of the Marauder-era goodness in Prisoner of Azkaban so much.

I hope you enjoy it, too! It will probably be the very end of the month before I get to see it again, but I'm looking forward to it.

Edited at 2010-11-21 12:39 am (UTC)
Nov. 20th, 2010 05:43 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes. I agree with all of your thoughts and points on the movie, right on down to the Snape scene.

I want to see it again.
Nov. 21st, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
I'm so glad you loved it, too! I'm with you: I definitely want to see it again! So many scenes were so rich, I know I'll see a lot that I missed the first time around.
Abbie [wordpress.com]
Nov. 20th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)
I'm glad it met your expectations! From what I've heard, most people say it's the best yet.

"...frankly, I haven't ever worried about those viewers, and I'm certainly not going to start now."
Haha! Dang! Well, I guess it's nice not to be worried about. ;)

I can't wait to see it next week with my mommy (who HAS read all the books, but usually can't remember what happened in which one)!

I hope you have a wonderful trip! Lovies.
Nov. 21st, 2010 12:48 am (UTC)
Definitely the best yet. Hands down.

I guess it's nice not to be worried about. ;)

Eeep! Does that mean you... um... WOE!!!

I feel I have let you down in a tremendous way. Do you have copies of the novels? If not, that can be arranged. Immediately. And foisted upon you with alarming force. ;) Seriously, though, I promise it's worth your time. I can point you toward some great theological and philosophical scholarship that recognizes this series as a truly important achievement.

I'd never have read it if a dear friend hadn't forced the first novel on me. I'm happy to pay it forward, especially to someone whose opinion I value so much.

I hope you thoroughly enjoy the film! Please don't take my crotchety old outspokenness to heart. And thanks for your good wishes. I hope you have a terrific break, too. Lovies back atcha.
(no subject) - Abbie [wordpress.com] - Nov. 21st, 2010 09:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 20th, 2010 08:57 pm (UTC)
Agreed on every single count here. My only other fuss you haven't mentioned is how the films have been handling Ginny and the Harry/Ginny relationship setup (or lack thereof). Of course, I had the same issue with the books.

I'd pay for another ticket just to watch Snape walk up to Malfoy Manor again. It's that good.

Absolutely! When the film opened, I thought we were seeing a Dementor in the sky. What a happy, delicious surprise. *g*

Speaking of Snape, is it me or did Severus get a perm? The saucy minx.
Nov. 21st, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
I see what you mean about the Harry/Ginny dynamic, especially in the movies (where it seems to come in like an afterthought). Even one short line later in this film would've helped to establish that, yes, this is an evolving plot point here.

When the film opened, I thought we were seeing a Dementor in the sky. What a happy, delicious surprise. *g*

Me, too! Happy and delicious, that says it all. :D

He is a saucy minx. I agree 100% about the hair. And the change was all the crueler, paraded in front of poor, post-Azkaban, Split-Ends!Lucius. I'm sure Snape did it intentionally. ("Don't hate me because I'm beautiful!" *g*)

Nov. 20th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
Well, you know I agree. I forgot to mention in my review, but how great were those three actors who played Harry, Hermoine and Ron in the Ministry? They were flawless, and you really believed they were the characters, and not just actors pretending to be the characters, if you know what I mean.
Nov. 21st, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
When the film opened, I thought we were seeing a Dementor in the sky. What a happy, delicious surprise. *g*

Oh my goodness! I forgot that, too. I was amazed at how, through body language alone, they made it so clear and so apparent who they were. At points I actually forgot I wasn't watching the original actors. I know exactly what you mean; those three were brilliant.

I was so impressed by that whole sequence. It could so easily have been cartoonish and over the top, and instead it felt truly, horrifyingly dystopian.
Nov. 20th, 2010 09:29 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see this tomorrow.
Nov. 21st, 2010 12:57 am (UTC)
I hope you enjoyed it like I did!
Nov. 20th, 2010 11:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the review. On a tv review programme, they were scathing, all save one. I wondered whether this was because you can't be seen to like Harry Potter and remain fashionable, or whether they actually made a pigs ear of the move. It seems to be the former.

The one person who was in favour said he had been talking to an 8 year old nephew, who had said he would miss quite a lot about the movie because he had not read the earlier books or watched the earlier movies. The reviewer said that he watched the movie from the point of view of an 8 year old, and thought it was just right.

Nov. 21st, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
because you can't be seen to like Harry Potter and remain fashionable

Argh, I hate this! Heaven forbid something popular might also be something of quality. (Like, you know, Shakespeare.)

The reviewer said that he watched the movie from the point of view of an 8 year old, and thought it was just right.

What you said. GRR!

I'm quite happy for J.K. Rowling to laugh at those film critics all the way to the bank.

Comparing this to, say, the film version of Sorcerer's Stone... is a mind-boggling proposition.

I could've been more thorough in my review, but I'm a bit scattered at the moment, getting ready to travel. I'm anxious, though, to see it again and let it "sink in." I do hope you enjoy it!

Nov. 21st, 2010 12:04 am (UTC)
Gambon Comment
I thought your comment on Gambon absolutely hilarious when I saw it over at The Hogshead. Priceless. Makes me cry in joy thinking about it. ;)

Nov. 21st, 2010 01:09 am (UTC)
Re: Gambon Comment
Ha! I'm so glad to share the lack of Gambon love. :) Thanks for your kind words!
Nov. 21st, 2010 03:46 am (UTC)
Why do so many HP fans I know dislike Michael Gambon as Dumbledore? Not to speak ill of the dead, but I actually prefer his performance to Richard Harris's.
Nov. 21st, 2010 01:18 pm (UTC)
I think it may be that Gambon doesn't bother with fanboy diplomacy. Most of the actors in these films and shows we like are actually fairly indifferent about what they perform in, but are tactful enough not to actually say so in interviews and at cons. IIRC Gambon has done mostly art films previous to Harry Potter, so isn't as familiar with fanboy diplomacy.
(no subject) - witchcat07 - Nov. 21st, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sittingduck1313 - Nov. 21st, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eldritchhobbit - Nov. 23rd, 2010 09:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eldritchhobbit - Nov. 23rd, 2010 10:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sittingduck1313 - Nov. 24th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - eldritchhobbit - Nov. 24th, 2010 06:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 21st, 2010 05:45 am (UTC)
Thanks for the review! Can't wait to see the movie!
Nov. 23rd, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
You bet! I hope you enjoy it, too!
Nov. 25th, 2010 06:02 am (UTC)
I confess I skimmed your movie comments because I haven't seen it yet, but thanks ever so much for the HatP remix link - for some reason that hadn't crossed my radar!!!!!

(here via whswhs, who recommended you as a possible kindred spirit - I went to junior high with chorale)
Nov. 28th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
My pleasure! And happy viewing/listening!
Abbie [wordpress.com]
Nov. 26th, 2010 07:39 pm (UTC)
Happy Birthday to Eldritchhobbit! "May you enjoy many happy returns of the day!" (I've always wanted to say that.)
Nov. 28th, 2010 06:41 pm (UTC)
Re: Also...
Aw, thank you so much!
( 31 comments — Leave a comment )

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