The following was origenally posted to my other blog on November 26, 2011.
(By the way, if you are new to the “Potter” series and have not read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yet, turn back now–I don’t want to be responsible for ruining it for you. Come back after you’ve expierenced the story yourself. Major spoilers for both the book and the film ahead).
“So I Finally saw ‘ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One’…”
…and “Only one question remains: which of my children am I going to name after the director of this film?” I leaned over and whispered this to my mother as the credits of Deathly Hallows Part One began to roll. David Yates, I said that if you pulled this off, I’d love you forever—you now officially have my undying gratitude, sir.
In all seriousness, though, I was literally overwhelmed, in the best way, at the end of this film. The pacing was amazing. They managed to keep up the tension through a nearly three -hour movie; so much so that I was surprised, and a little disappointed, when we opened on what I knew was the last shot (because I’d heard that already on Pottercast). That time went so fast… and I can’t wait to sit through it again.
Even the slower moments kind of crackle with tension, because you know that the peace–or semi-peace–won’t last. That’s how it was as a reader, at least: for instance, when they go to see Xeno Lovegood, I relished the calm of that moment, remembering, from the book, that something big was close on its heels.
My mother had the misfortune to doze, thanks to having eaten before the movie, so she kept getting woken up by the battles and explosions that felt like they popped up every ten minutes or so.
Speaking of experiencing this film as a reader: because of my memories of the book, I recognized what was coming pretty quickly in most scenes, which made watching them come at me exciting in an entirely different way. For instance, I saw the aerial shot of Malfoy Manor and whispered to myself “oh, here we go…”, as the memories of that sequence in the book flooded back to me. I knew what was coming, but in the best possible way; it was anticipation, rather than the disappointment of a so-called “spoiler.” It gave me a little extra electricity that a non-reader wouldn’t have access to.
Most of it was internal, but those little electric anticipation moments happened through the whole movie. For example: “Oooh, Oooh, The Three Brothers…” At that moment I actually squirmed a little in my seat, I was so excited; I had hared that they cut away from the mainstream action to show this part of the story, and I really like the way they did it–animation and voiceover was plenty for that. Excellent.
Another of those moments of recognition went something like: “Oh, my gosh…I just realized what chapter this is…” (When Lily/Snape’s Patronus showed up at the start of the Silver Doe sequence). Little things like seeing Umbridge’s ministry and the people making those horrible pamphlets made me smile, also.
And, of course, of course: Godric’s Hollow. Harry dealing with his parents’ absence from his life and the family’s past is one of my favorite things in the books, and I loved the line that Harry got at the beginning of the Godric’s Hollow sequence in the film, when Hermione says that they should have come polyjucied: “This is where I was born, I’m not coming back as someone else.” Sigh. That was lovely. That whole first part of the sequence, with the snow and the quiet and Harry and Hermione at Lily and James’ graves, was just beautiful. It was a welcome little moment of calm between the battles, chases, and chaos, especially since the second half of the Godric’s Hollow sequence consists of the battle with Nigini (which, once again, readers knew beforehand). That time in the graveyard gave the audience a minute to breath before our blood pressure went back up, yet again.
Now, I don’t normally react aloud to things in the movie theatre, but I had a couple of moments in this film in which I couldn’t help it. One was when Dobby showed up again (I whispered ‘Dobby!’ at the screen before I could stop myself); another was when they first cut to Ginny and Neville through the window of the Hogwarts express. I hadn’t expected to see Neville at all in this film, so when I realized who was sitting across from Ginny, I allowed myself a soft, excited “Oh my gosh…”. Neville was only on screen for a very short time, but he pulled another reaction from me with his one line. When he stood up and said, “Losers–he’s not here,” I had a little internal moment of Yessss–my Neville’s becoming a Bad-A already.
I also need to mention the seven Potters. I remembered this sequence pretty well from the book, and it was nicely done here. Dan Radcliffe did very, very well, and it was a needed, welcome light moment in a film full of intense sequences.
I had no idea that two -and -a -half hours could go by so quickly.
In the car, on the way home, my mother commented that every time she woke up and came back to things, it was “fighting…seemed like it was the whole movie.”
Me: “and you know the best part about that? This was the slow half of Deathly Hallows.”
Mom: “You’re kidding.”
Not at all, actually. This was a calm little romp through the countryside compared to part two. I can hardly imagine what the Battle for Hogwarts is going to be like on screen.
That will come later, though. For now, I’m content with basking in the glow of amazing that is Deathly Hallows Part One, and looking forward to seeing it a second time. And a third. And…you get the idea.
Thank you again David Yates, Steve Cloves and, of course, Jo Rowling: thanks to you- all, I think I’m going to be on a Deathly Hallows high all evening.
Oh, a P.S. that I just thought of:
I have to mention Hermione’s response to Ron’s return. When she looked at him for a second after beating him with the bag, and then turned around and asked, “where’s my wand, Harry?” I actually appluaded. Yes, girl; that’s exactly it.