movies

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

It’s indeed the beginning of the end and the series was in much need of a charismatic boost after a lazy effort in Goblet of Fire(widely regarded as the best book/worst movie in the series). The truth is, it’s great that since Order of the Phoenix, the movies have only been steadily improving as they accompany Harry and his friends’ journey to save the world.

Deathly Hallows – Part 1 begins with Rufus Scrimgeour meeting the press expressing solidarity in the dark times they find themselves in. With Lord Voldemort gathering his forces and Death Eaters all the more powerful after Albus Dumbledore’s death, Scrimgeour paints a grim picture as he tries to maintain a face of strength. The film then shifts to Hermione, Ron and the rest of the fraternity leaving their homes to better, safer places. It’s all painted in a gloomy, rainy backdrop so that you don’t feel that even for a second, there is some hope lurking in the corner. Only this film, after the third(Prisoner of Azkaban) gets the mood and the setting perfectly right. And then we shift to Harry Potter.

It’s good to know that the movie hits the right notes with respect to the book. Deathly Hallows being the last book in the series, J.K. Rowling knew that nostalgia was going to play a huge part. There is a passage or maybe a couple of pages where Harry is waiting for his friends in Privet Drive when he takes Hedwig around the house stopping at key places. The cupboard under the stairs importantly. This is the sequence where the reader feels what Harry exactly feels. The nostalgia and the realization that neither the reader nor Harry is ever going to return to this place. In the film, Harry opens the closet and we see him from inside the closet. We don’t see the closet at all. He looks at it and we look at him, we realize the rush of memories that he’s having, we are having. Full points to Steve Kloves for not brushing this off as trivial in an extremely detailed novel.

There is a lot of awkward silence in the film that for some people(especially those who haven’t read the books) might come across as slow/boring. A lot of characters in this book go through some personal/emotional battles. They have their own insecurities. Harry lives with the pressure of finding the Horcruxes while having to see his friends die in the process. Ron has his own fight for some attention from his family and Hermione. Hermione and her bittersweet relationship with Ron coupled with the huge sacrifice she goes through in order to accompany Harry in his journey. Thanks to all these and the locket Horcrux, people say things that they shouldn’t or wouldn’t. And this leads to a lot of silence and brooding in the safehouses they find for themselves. The book does mention how several days pass after Ron leaves and how the atmosphere is entirely silent. Deathly Hallows is also a book with absolutely breathtaking locations. The forests, the riversides, the rocky hilltops and snowy Godric’s Hollow.

But this silence is what leads to one of the most endearing shots in the film. In the grim situation inside their tent after Ron leaves, Hermione sits devoid of all hope, unconvincingly disguising the heatbreak, as does Harry. Harry goes to her and takes her hand and Hermione accepts albeit with a little shrug. At first it’s extremely uncomfortable for them and the viewer but then they both realize slowly how indispensable they are to each other. Especially during these times with Ron gone. Surely one of the loveliest scenes in cinema this year. If that’s not enough, Deathly Hallows gives some stiff competition to Day & Night, that brilliant short animation feature Pixar appended with Toy Story 3. The Tale of the Three Brothers, the story that explains the Deathly Hallows is presented in cleverly directed animation. It’s credit to the director(Ben Hibon) that it’s not depicted with the usual colorful cartoon-y feel but in a more matured format with economical use of colors, shadowy figures and a superb wraith like Death figure. Ben Hibon, take a bow!

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 is the best in the series so far. I loved the last film, Half Blood Prince , also directed by David Yates, and this one is miles ahead. It’s faithful to the book right up to the tiniest of details and sets up the finale showdown beautifully. I, for one, can’t wait for July 2011.

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14 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1

  1. Almost every part of the movie I thought was superb..you mentioned it!
    The tale of the three brothers was brilliant!
    This is my fav. movie too so far, for it being so close to the book!
    I think ppl who didn’t read the book, disliked the movie n complained of being slow!

    Awesomely well-written review! :)

    Adi: Thank you!

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  2. You liked the HBP movie? I hated it!

    But agree with almost everything else you say, especially about the beginning – Harry’s visit to the cupboard, and Hermione’s scene at her home just set the tone of the movie, and I must confess, brought a lump to my throat.

    Adi: Oh I did, except for missing out the Gaunt memory part, I thought they got most things right with that.

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  3. I had no complaints with the movie. Maybe I’m partial. Maybe its because its my favorite book of the series. I absolutely loved the way scenes lingering a few seconds than they normally would. I loved how silence was used to depict isolation and brooding. Just brought out the mood so very well.

    Surprised that the creators of a mainstream Hwood movie (that too, part of a famous franchise) had the balls to come out with this movie: 146 mins runtime, no extended action sequences, negligible gimmicks, passable acting, staying true to the mood of the source, experimental animation .

    wOOt, whatay louly I say!

    Adi: louly indeed!

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  4. I second that ^ .. I did not notice the 146 minutes go by and without any extended sequences like he says, its a tribute to how well it was put together.

    However , the movie will not work for anyone who has not read the books/closely followed the previous movies.. This leads to the inevitable half of the theatre explaining the movie to the other half phenomenon. I thought that part could have been improved- Character identification , some story background

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    1. Also, for those how have not read the books, all the unresolved simmering sexual tension and emotion portrayed in this movie will be forgotten by Next June … So they will need to establish that all over again ;)

      Adi: I don’t care much for them. See, I don’t know the stats but surely 60-70% of the reading world has read the book? If the remaining set haven’t read yet, I don’t think they would watch or care about the film.

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  5. I quite liked the movie because it stuck to the book. I’d have watched if the second part was also there :D with an interval like in Indian movies.

    And Ron – so beefy! :) Hermione continues to be hot, but the twins were enough for me to make this worthwhile :)

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  6. I agree .Watched the movie without reading the book and I am sure I missed a lot.Should redo the sequence before July 2011 !
    Nicely written so much so to drive everyone to watch the movie !

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  7. Gradwolf, I liked Deathly Hallows too. But I did not like Half Blood Prince. I thought it had a lot of out of character treatments – I’d blogged about it last year after HBP came out.
    http://nourishncherish.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/landing-on-the-mooon-and-harry-potter/
    One of my major disappointments with the movie was the casting for Ginny Weasley – she behaves like a stick of wood throughout the series. Can’t act for 2 peanuts!
    But yeah – waiting for July 2011!

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  8. I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as most people seemed to have. I think it was always the books for me! But they did do a pretty awesome job, especially with the Three Brothers bit. I recently re-read the last book and I still howled magnificently over it.

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  9. I went with some people who haven’t read the book, and they found the movie slow and were wondering what was going on. Really liked your review and makes me want to write one of my own :D I’ve been a bad blogger lately. I can’t wait for the next movie, and I’m definitely not going with the same people :P

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  10. Nice review. It’s not until you reach this movie/book that one realizes how much Rowling had a Nazi undertone wrt Voldemort and his death eaters. Aryan Superiority/purebloods, Jews/mudbloods, almost nazi like uniforms of the new ministry in the movie and of course “All ministry officials must prove their lineage down to N generations.” It’s scary to think this started out as a magical fantasy series for children. Wouldn’t you agree? First timer by the way.

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