Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

The "Harry Potter" saga, which began a decade ago, is coming to an end, or beginning to come to an end, with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I,” since there is one more chapter to be released next year.

Based on what's on the screen, with an excessive running time, I am not sure that there was a valid reason (other than the strictly commercial) to split J.K. Rowling’s seventh and last book, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," into two full-length segments.
 
I was never a huge fan of "Harry Potter" as a filmic event, and it remains to be seen how history will treat the adventures of Harry Potter, the boy wizard who for many people forever changed both literary and cinematic traditions. If this review reads like a mixed response, it should, as I wanted to like the film better than I did, though I realize that fans of the series will embrace it.
 
Warner’s top execs should be commended for their decision not to shoot and to present the last two “Harry Potter” chapters in 3-D. With all due respect to the new, alluring technology, it would have deviated so much from the spirit of the franchise thus far as to detract attention from what’s the significant aspects of the books (and movies), namely, the characters, their web of tangled relationships, and their endlessly conflicted emotions and actions.
 
Under the helm of David Yates, who had directed two previous episodes, "Deathly Hallows Part I" strikes me as a well-mounted picture, one which benefits immensely from Stuart Craig’s production design, Eduardo Serra’s lensing, and some great and occasionally even magical special effects.
 
But in terms of dramatic narrative, the tale and its degree of involvement are sharply uneven. On the one hand, the film is overly busy and overwrought, and on the other, it is sluggish in some of the dialogue-driven scenes. Not helping matters is the ending, which is too abrupt, especially since it follows some over-indulgent scenes.
 
That said, “Deathly Hallows Part I” sets up the stage and raises expectation for the grand finale, the major showdown between Harry Potter and his evil enemies, which should be the climax of "Deathly Hallows Part II."
 
Faced with the challenge of how to encompass all of the series' interwoven story threads into two films, each unified by a predominant theme and mood, the screenwriter Steve Kloves has met his task only semi-successfully.
 
At the center of this tale is yet another risky mission that calls for an extra show of courage. Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his buddies Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) set out to search and destroy the Horcruxes, the keys to Voldemort’s presumed immortality.
 
The Horcruxes, you may recall, can be found anywhere and can be manifest in anything.  Two of the Horcruxes have already been destroyed: Tom Riddle's diary and the ring that belonged to Marvolo Gaunt, Riddle's maternal grandfather.  Harry and Dumbledore thought that they had located the third Horcrux, Salazar's Slytherin's locket, but it turned out to be fake. The real one was stolen by someone who goes by the initials of R.A.B.
 
This time around, the trio sets out without the guidance of their savvy and experienced professors. Indeed, this "Harry Potter" breaks tradition with the previous segments by taking the characters away from the familiar and safer surroundings of Hogwarts.  It is the first film in the franchise in which the iconic and eccentric School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is not even seen.  In the past, even when the trio was in jeopardy, they still benefited from the relative safety and protection of the magical environment of Hogwarts.  But now, they are literally "thrown" into the real, big, ominous world, depicted as a dangerous place, which intensifies their feelings of isolation, loneliness, and vulnerability. 
In this respect, "Harry Potter and Deathly Hallow Part I" is a coming of age saga par excellence, one that calls for the three main characters to show greater personal maturity and responsibility, while also relying on one another more than ever before. 
 
As noted, the tone of this movie is darker and more downbeat than the previous chapters—and for good reason. In the intervening years, the world of wizardry has become a dangerous site for all enemies of the Dark Lord.  And though the central characters are still school kids, it's hard to perceive them as such, because they are no longer at school.
 
The long-dreaded conflict begins when Voldemort’s Death Eaters seize control of the Ministry of Magic and the Hogwarts, terrorizing anyone who might show the slight opposition to them.As expected, Harry Potter continues to be the most valuable prize for Voldemort. The latter’s followers are instructed to bring the “chosen one” back to him alive.
 
Time is running out and the clock is ticking fast as Harry Potter hopes to find the Horcruxes before his nemesis does. His mission and search for pivotal clues take the shape of a lengthy journey, during which he uncovers the legend of the Deathly Hallows.
 
An aura of grim fatalism defines his search: Harry Potter is not entirely aware that his future had already been determined by his past, or more specifically by the one fateful day on which he became known as “the Boy Who Lived.”
 
Like other screen heroes his age, Harry Potter, who is neither a boy nor a man, needs to go through a set of rites of passage, symbolic and physical rituals that would enable him to accomplish the task he had been fated to perform ever since he had enrolled with the Hogwarts, that is, to fight and defeat Voldemort.
 
David Yates, who has helmed the former two chapters, directs in a firm and proficient but workmanlike way.  Occasionally, "Deathly Hallows Part 1" boasts some elegant images, but, by, and large, the direction is impersonal.  By now, the "Harry Potter" saga has become such a big production (sort of a machine) that one gets the feeling that no director, unless it is an artist of the caliber of Alfonso Cuaron, can imbue the franchise with a more personal and visionary touch.
 
The three lead actors, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint acquit themselves honorably and each one of them is given a number of scenes in which they can register strongly from a dramatic or emotional standpoint.
 
But acting-wise, one of the real pleasures of "Deathly Hallows Part 1" is watching a fantastic roaster of character players, sort of a list of the who's who in U.K. TV, theater, and cinema, which includes Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Brendan Gleeson, John Hurt, Rhys Ifans, Bill Nighy, Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall, David Thewlis, Fiona Shaw, Imelda Staunton, Helena Bonham Carter, and others. Space does not permit me to enlist all of the actors, or to single out the specific parts that they play. 
 
Cast
 
Harry Potter – Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley – Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger – Emma Watson
Bellatrix Lestrange – Helena Bonham Carter
Rubeus Hagrid – Robbie Coltrane
Lord Voldemort – Ralph Fiennes
Professor Albus Dumbledore – Michael Gambon
Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody – Brendan Gleeson
Vernon Dursley – Richard Griffiths
Ollivander – John Hurt
Xenophilius Lovegood – Rhys Ifans
Lucius Malfoy – Jason Isaacs
Rufus Scrimgeour – Bill Nighy
Professor Severus Snape – Alan Rickman
Petunia Dursley – Fiona Shaw
Wormtail – Timothy Spall
Dolores Umbridge – Imelda Staunton
Remus Lupin – David Thewlis
 
Credits
 
A Warner release of a Heyday Films production.
Produced by David Heyman, David Barron, J.K. Rowling.
Executive producer, Lionel Wigram.
Co-producers, John Trehy, Tim Lewis.
Directed by David Yates.
Screenplay, Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling.
Camera, Eduardo Serra.
Editor, Mark Day.
Music, Alexandre Desplat.
Production designer, Stuart Craig; supervising art director, Neil Lamont; art directors, Al Bullock, Mark Bartholomew, Gary Tomkins, Hattie Storey, Nicholas Henderson, Martin Foley, Molly Hughes, Christian Huband; set decorators, Stephenie McMillan, Rosie Goodwin.
Costume designer, Jany Temime.
Sound, Stuart Wilson; supervising sound editor, James Mather; sound designers, Michael Fentum, Dominic Gibbs; re-recording mixers, Stuart Hilliker, Mike Dowson.
Special effects supervisor, John Richardson.
Visual effects supervisors, Tim Burke, Chris Shaw, John Moffatt; visual effects, MPC, Double Negative, Cinesite, Framestore, Baseblack, Rising Sun Pictures.
Special makeup effects, Nick Dudman.
Stunt coordinator, Greg Powell.
Assistant director, Jamie Christopher; second unit director, Stephen Woolfenden; second unit camera, Mike Brewster.
Casting, Fiona Weir.
 
MPAA Rating: PG-13.
Running time: 147 Minutes.