- Movie Rating -

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010)

| November 18, 2010 | 0 Comments

I haven’t always been kind to the film adaptations of the Harry Potter books because they always seemed to be missing something. J.K. Rowling created a world on the page that was robust and alive, populated by dozens of interesting characters and wondrous things to behold. The movies, mainly after the second installment seemed to miss the point. They always felt like Cliff Notes summaries. That’s a complaint I’ve had with this series for about the last four installments. Yet, here we are at the end and at last they’ve gotten it absolutely right. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I is the beginning of the end, the top half of a two-part finale that concludes in July. This is the best installment of the series, in my opinion, and the truest to Rowling’s vision. Harry’s destiny has been looming all along through some admittedly tiresome fore-bearings and now those portents of doom finally come to a head.

This film finds Harry being hunted by the evil Voldemort and his Death Eaters who know that the moment the lad turns 18, his protection spell will be lifted and he will be fair game. Some of Harry’s professor’s attempt to help him escape when an ambush is sprung that sends Harry, Ron and Hermione on the lam. The trio’s flight from Voldemort, and the now-corrupt Ministry of Magic, makes up the bulk of the movie as they try and obtain the horcruxes, objects that contain various pieces of the dark lord’s blackened soul.

They set off across the English countryside never fully aware of who they can trust. The scenes outdoors (there are no scenes at Hogwarts) leave time for a surprising amount of character development especially in the now strained relationship between Harry and Ron. Outwardly, Ron is worried that Harry is endangering in his family – inside, he fears that Harry is winning Hermione’s heart. What comes of that conflict is something that has been missing from his series all along: these three young actors that we’ve watched grow up since childhood – Daniel Radcliff, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson – are finally given room to act. Their performances are compelling. They are angry, frustrated, tired, hungry and scared out of their wits. They play each note just right. Grint plays Ron with an undercurrent of bitterness. Watson began her performance as a bookworm but has now become the logic center. Radcliff maintains his performance with a perfect heir of dread and melancholy.

Those performances are the foreground of a movie that is beautifully produced. Director David Yates and his cinematographer Eduardo Serra (who shot Blood Diamond and Unbreakable) match the story’s grim tone by keeping the skies eternally overcast and the landscape fore-bidding and lonely at the same time. This film, unlike previous installments, has a heavy tone that owes more to The Lord of the Rings. This time they aren’t content with just a press stamp copy of the books. They really make the story come alive especially in moments when we think the trio is safe but then the trap is sprung. There are visual tricks here that I didn’t expect, most delight is a breathtaking, and oddly beautiful, animated sequence told in shadow as Hermione reads the story of The Deathly Hallows.

There is a sense of melancholy that sets in with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I and not all of it has to do with Harry’s fate. In a way, we sense the closing of an era. These are characters that we have come to love, that we’ve watched grow up and now they head into their final battle and their destiny. We know that Part II will focus mainly on tying up loose ends (I hope it will be more than that) but if the bottom half of this finale is as compelling as the top, we’re in for a very wonderful send-off.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2010) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized