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.
- 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