Faith and Film
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I
If you have followed the adventures of the Boy Wizard at all, you know by now that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the final book of J. K. Rowling’s extraordinarily successful series, has been made into two films. The bad news is that you will have to wait until next summer to see the final episode. The good news is that there is more of Harry and his friends, and more of the story, to enjoy.
Part I has just opened and it has a different feel from the other films. One of the joys of the films is seeing Harry, Hermione, and Ron grow from kids to young adults. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint deserve great credit for the way they have matured in their roles. In particular Watson shines in this installment, as a serious, intelligent and lovely young woman, devoted to Harry while falling in love with Ron. Unlike any of the other films, Part I depends on the talents of the three young actors, since they are often alone. They have not returned to Hogwarts School since the death of Headmaster Dumbledore at the end of the last installment, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Their young friends and adversaries are on screen only briefly. Actually, the adult wizards get little screen time either. But it’s enough time for Ralph Fiennes as Voldemort, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix, and Imelda Staunton as pink-suited Dolores Umbridge to send shivers down your spines.
After Death Eaters create mayhem invading the wedding of Ron’s brother, Harry, Hermione, and Ron go into hiding in the countryside. There they also hunt for four Horcruxes, which contain parts of the soul of Voldemort. If the Horcruxes remain, Voldemort will be immortal, and thus continue his reign of terror for generations. The trio is also searching for the sword of Gryffindor, which can destroy the Horcruxes.
Without quidditch matches and the antics of the colorful Hogwarts teachers and students to entertain us, Part I is more adult in nature, as it deals with the loneliness and isolation of the trio, their grief at the loss of Dumbledore, and the dread of the eventual confrontation with Voldemort. In the wizarding world, the weight of the world is on their young shoulders. Out of frustration and jealousy, Ron leaves Hermione and Harry for a period of time, but eventually returns to fight the good fight. The friendship, loyalty, and courage of our three young heroes have never been more central to the story. In addition, there is no better example of loyalty and courage than Dobby, the elf emancipated by Harry in a previous installment, who returns to protect Harry from the Dark Lord.
At 2 ½ hours in length, and with fewer action scenes than the other episodes, Part I drags at times. Yet I appreciated its thoughtful, mature tone, with beautiful photography and great sets, particularly in the trio’s visit to the dark maze of the Ministry of Magic, with vertical and horizontal elevators. The film suffers somewhat from being inconclusive, but, like Ron, Hermione, and Harry, we have to wait for the final showdown between good and evil. I’m eager for the final installment of what has become a very fine series of films bridging the gap from childhood to adulthood. I’ll miss Harry, Hermione, Ron, and all the other Muggles and Wizards, after next summer, when their adventures have come to an end.
Tom Condon, OP