Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

a review by Nalini Haynes

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is a 17 year old wizard on the run from his nemesis, the dark Lord Voldemort. Voldemort is once again in power, working through his minions the Death Eaters who are all evil wizards. Professor Snape is now headmaster of Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, replacing Albus Dumbledore whom Snape murdered in the previous book and movie.

Harry and his two closest friends Ron Weasely (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) flee and go into hiding after a wedding is gate crashed by Death Eaters. Their goal is to find and destroy the 7 Horcruxes into which Lord Voldemort has stored pieces of his soul in an attempt to achieve immortality (again, a development from the previous story).

For years the Harry Potter series has caused controversy, with questions over its originality, law suits against authors commentating on the series, questions over its suitability for children and more. My thoughts on this matter are fairly simple – J K Rowling is has managed to capture the imagination of a generation previously unwilling to read, and caused a sensation in the literary world. My son, the gamer, loves the Harry Potter series of books as well as the movies. I take my hat off to Rowling for this achievement.

Some of the books have been more successfully interpreted as movies than others. The Goblet of Fire particularly suffered through being cut to fit the movie requirements when it needed to be made into a mini-series at least, like George R. R. Martin’s upcoming Game of Thrones series. However, The Deathly Hallows was interpreted well for the movie genre. In fact, I applaud the manner in which the wedding was handled (my son’s least favourite portion of the book) and the camping in exile (my least favourite portion of the book!)

The pace of the story builds momentum well, right up until the end. The two part nature of the movie was a distraction because I thought I knew when the hiatus would come, and was preparing for it. I was wrong, and then I kept wondering at which point the story would end.

Disappointments for me included the omission of most of the house elf narrative, which I believe is a real loss to other movies as well. Of course we remember Dobby from the Goblet of Fire, but the intervening movies almost completely omit house elves from the story. I think it was so important that Rowling did not canonise Sirius Black but instead gave him a darker, crueler side as a reminder that good people have their flaws. This is emphasised in The Deathly Hallows book, where Harry is challenged by Hermione and wins Kreacher, the house elf he inherited from Black, over as a willing servant.

If you enjoyed the later Harry Potter movies, you will enjoy this movie. Movies such as Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief are attempts to ride the wave of Harry Potter’s popularity, so if you enjoyed Percy Jackson you will enjoy Harry Potter. It is important to note that the movies show a boy who grows to be a young adult, and the movies are aimed at an audience around Harry’s age in the movies; The Deathly Hallows is not aimed at the same aged audience as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. This is not a movie for young children. And the sequel is definitely not either, speaking as someone with an idea of what is yet to come…

 

This review was previously published in Dark Matter issue 2, January 2011, and predated on this website to reflect the original publication date.