It’s the beginning of the end. Aka Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Or, if that’s too long for you to swallow: HP7.1.
It’s my opinion that, safe for the first two, all Harry Potter movies are “good”. There’s never any real issues. They choose to convey tone and emotions rather than the stone cold plot behind it, and do this very well. Since David Yates joined the massive blockbuster undertaking back in the Order of the Phoenix, however, the movies all of a sudden became more. Whereas Order was just okay, the Half-Blood Prince had some brilliant moments. And, to continue a trend, the Deathly Hallows Part 1 sometimes blends in moments that take your breath away and make you wonder if you’re watching an independent flick. The most expensive independent flick ever.
The movie starts off with such a moment – a montage in which, amongst others, Hermione is erasing her parents’ memories. A simple spell, causing her to disappear from all the family photographs. It’s just a sentence in the book, but as a scene it is so visually loaded you immediately know we’re not in Kansas anymore. Other than that, there’s relatively little cutting and jumping around going on in the more emotional moments. This gives the actors the place to shine. The movie is peppered with this stunning, unconventional visual style – if you’ll enjoy it you’ll love it. But if you’re expecting just any other blockbuster, you might not.
My biggest gripe with the book (other than that dreadful epilogue, which we’ll be seeing in the next installment) is tone. The book doesn’t really understand that, in order to convey great drama, you also need at least a bit of humour. Comic relief. The most memorable moments in any war-related movie or book are the ones where the survivers, traumatized beyond belief, manage to cling on to their humanity in small acts. The Cinderella play in Slaughterhouse Five comes to mind.
This is where the movie shines. Harry and Hermione dancing like completely fools, just to keep sane, was a very powerful moment. It emphasized the fascism analogy Rowling used to tell this story. And it doesn’t stop there – the colours of the anti-mudblood flyers, the marking of the arm, the clothing… The movie is a definition of what we Europeans think war is. Which is something entirely different than any other continent. It executes it perfectly.
The Deathly Hallows is a great film. It’s not for everyone, though. Whereas the previous films had their British charm, this one becomes decidedly European. There’s an ideological viewpoint involved that not every culture can understand anymore. “Well, this is war”, my friend said. And she was right. But it’s a European war. Which is the strongest point of the flick, but also its greatest weakness.
(Oh, and by the way, never ever come to me and tell me the only good Potter movie was The prisoner of Azkaban. You just want a fancy indie director. Shoo!)