After around seventeen hours of celluloid delight, we come to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2. At two hours and ten minutes, it’s the shortest movie of the series (or, if you prefer to add it to Part 1, the longest by far). Its quality, though, is equal to all that has gone before – a testament to David Heyman, who has served as producer of the series.
The movie literally begins where Part 1 ends with a repeat of the last minute of that film. Then Part 2 is off on its rise to the climax of the series. Harry, Ron and Hermione must locate the final three horcruxes that Voldemort has hidden. After a rollercoaster of a ride through Gringott’s bank, Harry realizes the next horcrux is hidden at Hogwarts. It’s a very different school than the one we’ve known throughout the series. Severus Snape is now headmaster, and Hogwarts has become a gray, totalitarian enclave where the students march in formation to and from class. But there is a Resistance movement active in the school, under the leadership of Neville Longbottom. Once Harry returns to Hogwarts, the Resistance rises in open rebellion and takes control of the school. The triumph is short-lived. Voldemort marshals his forces to surround the school and prepares for the final confrontation.
Watching the movie, the wisdom of splitting The Deathly Hollows into two is clear. It would have been too much to handle the story in one sitting, physically as well as emotionally. By having two films, Director David Yates doesn’t have to rush through the set pieces from the book. The battle scene that fills the second half of the movie is truly epic in scale and incredible in its execution. Yet the story doesn’t get overwhelmed by the action. The fuller time allows for the final reveal of the most enigmatic character in the whole series – a revelation told in tears.
I confess to having a special place in my heart for Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis). At the start of the series he was comic relief. As the movies went along, we learned of his tragic backstory and saw Neville blossom in confidence. In Part 2 he rises to the truly heroic.
Apart from the Dursleys and the ghosts at Hogwarts (such as Nearly Headless Nick and Moaning Myrtle), all the characters we’ve seen in the previous movies put in at least a cameo appearance. Along with them, two new actors join the roster. Playing Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth is Ciaran Hinds (Munich, HBO’s Rome). Appearing as the ghost of the daughter of one of Hogwarts’ four founders is Kelly Macdonald (Gosford Park, No Country for Old Men).
For the first time, you have a full Harry Potter movie that’s available in 3D. Other series such as Transformers have used it, and have had their grosses inflated by the surcharge added to the ticket price. Previously only the opening sequence of The Half-Blood Prince, where the Death Eaters cause the collapse of a pedestrian bridge in London, was released in 3D. They’d planned for Deathly Hallows Pt 1 to be done in 3D. However, the production ran out of time for doing the conversion and decided to scrap it. In recent months the process has lost much of its luster, thanks to the release of a number of inferior pictures that tried to use its extra dimension to hide their one dimensional plotting and acting. With Deathly Hallows Pt 2, we see what the process can add to a fine production. Whether or not 3D will survive is very much in doubt, but Part 2 will keep it breathing for a while.
I suggest you bring along a hankie or two with you when you see the film. In this war between good and evil, there are casualties – more than the previous movies combined. However, it is a completely satisfying end for the series. As we see in the coda at the end of the movie, life goes on.
J.K. Rowling was a welfare mother when she penned Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. (Schoolastic, the book’s US publisher, didn’t think people would be acquainted with the story of the Philosopher’s stone, so they changed it to Sorcerer’s.) Through the books, a generation of children rediscovered the joy of reading actual words on paper. After seven books and eight movies, Rowling is now literally richer than the Queen of England.
Who says magic doesn’t exist in this Muggle world?