FYI, my interview as a scholarly guest with WUTC FM (88.1 in Chattanooga, TN) on today's show about "Pottermania" is now up online here.
More to the point, I haven't loved all of the Harry Potter films, but Deathly Hallows, Part 2 gets two thumbs up from me. The scenes it had to do well, it did; and many more also stole my breath. The theater was packed (mostly with adults my age or thereabouts), and weeping was audible in all directions throughout the second half of the film.
A few of my first impressions:
This film just had to deliver certain scenes in order to work for me. It did. Here are some of them...
* Neville vs. Nagini: This film was Neville's turn to shine, and he did. The fact that Gryffindor's sword came to him not only because he had need, but also because he was worthy, comes across clearly, and the way this particular moment was filmed - Neville destroying the final horcrux while saving the lives of Ron and Hermione - was epic. The one person in the theater who hadn't read the book (we could all identify her early on, I think) tried to gasp and shriek at the same time when it happened.
* The bodies in the makeshift morgue: The film needed to show how significant the death toll at Hogwarts had become, how dear a price already had been paid. It did. Ron sobbing over Fred's body was amazingly affecting, considering I was prepared for it. There's beautiful symmetry between Lupin and Tonks reaching out for one another when they realize Voldemort's breached the defenses and then, in death, laid out side by side, reaching out again, their fingertips touching.
* The forest scene, in which Harry communes with his parents and Sirius and Remus, was pitch perfect.
* I love the fact there were so many blink-and-you'd-miss-them cameos that gave the impression that the entire Hogwarts family had come together when it mattered most. I'm so glad we had glimpses of Slughorn and Trelawney and Cho Chang and Filch and so many others involved in the battle and/or its aftermath.
They all made it into the film: Snape's "Look at me," Molly's "Not my daughter, you bitch!" and Dumbledore's "Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"
* Not even Michael Gambon could ruin the King's Cross Station scene. That's saying something.
* The Epilogue, which ranks as my least favorite part of the entire book series by far, actually worked. And it was blessedly short, too; it made its point and promptly ended.
* Snape and McGonagall at last had their moments, and they were glorious. Snape's final minutes with Voldemort, when he knew he was to die, were especially moving. Not only did he seem resigned; he almost seemed relieved. Oh dear, where are my tissues...
* The contrast between the real Snape (as shown through his memories in the Pensieve) and the public Snape was extremely powerful. Thank you, all The Powers That Be, for giving Alan Rickman the time and space to attack this with all of his considerable talent. (If some of the flashbacks with young Snape and Lily seemed like refugees from a lost Hallmark commercial, I'll let it slide. Adult Severus was SO GOOD I can't be bothered to care.)
* Hogwarts really felt under seige, like a war zone, and the sense this was a "final stand" was beautifully and wrenchingly portrayed.
* The destruction of the physical building itself hit me harder than I was expecting. Seeing Hogwarts in ruins brought me up short.
* The Hermione/Ron relationship seemed natural and fitting. Their kiss, after the destruction of the horcrux in the Chamber of Secrets, was timed and executed well.
* I expected the Grey Lady would be left on the cutting room floor. I'm so glad she wasn't.
* Voldemort communicating to everyone at Hogwarts, issuing his threats, calling out Harry, was deliciously creepy.
* Beautiful visual touches:
-- Snape staring out at the Hogwarts grounds as the students march below in lockstep
-- McGonagall and Molly Weasley on the steps to Hogwarts, surrounded by the stone soldiers as they came to life in the school's defense
-- The shadow of Snape's body falling against the window as Nagini strikes him repeatedly
-- Narcissa and Draco walking resolutely away from Hogwarts, hand in hand, not once looking back, and Lucius running to catch up with them
No, it wasn't a perfect film. But, in my opinion, it was very well done. I hope you enjoyed it, too! If you've seen it, what did you think?
In other news...
* Dwight L. MacPherson's wonderful steampunk webcomic Sidewise is on sale for download. The first issue is free, and the second and third are $.99 each. Check it out and support a great webcomic.
* Happy birthday to knesinka_e, and happy early birthday to ithildyn, melissagay, and faramirgirl. May all of you enjoy many happy returns of the day!
McGonagall to Harry: "Do what you have to do. I'll secure the castle."
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2