Archive for July, 2011

The End of an Era: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Ten years of being Spellbound by some of the most memorable characters in Contemporary Children’s Fiction came to a magical end two weeks ago with the
release of the second installment of the final Harry Potter film: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”. Having seen it twice, I think I can safely
say that this film, despite the pressure to tie up loose ends, seemed far easier to render on screen than the others, mostly because the book was so action-packed.
ON the other hand, J. K. Rowling’s descriptive language—the thing I’ve always loved most about her writing—painted such vivid pictures in the readers imagination
that to do them justice was no small feat. The scenes depicting the battle at Hogwarts were, I think, the strongest in the film, bringing the action on
the page to life precisely as I’d imagined—everything from the clanking of the suits of armor to the creeks and crashes of a magically-infused fortress
under siege.

***Spoiler warning***

The minor plot-changes toward the end were clever suspense tactics; Nevel killing the snake while Harry and Voldemort are battling rather than before Harry
reveals Voldemort’s botched attempt at killing him kept the audience guessing; what would happen if Harry attempted to destroy Voldemort with one horcrux
remaining? Even if this as primarily employed for the benefit of viewers who hadn’t read the series (in my opinion), it nevertheless kept everyone at the
edge of their seats.
There were a few minor details I thought they might have expanded on a bit more—Snape’s memories, for instance, and Dumbledore’s conversation with Harry
following Voldemort’s attempt to kill him. They didn’t do nearly as much with Harry’s relationship to Dumbledore as they might have in either the first
or second half of the film, and Harry’s struggle to maintain his trust of Dumbledore—his alternation between feelings of betrayal and loyalty—play a tremendous
role in his coming of age. On the one hand, to cling to Dumbledore is arguably the reflex of the child clinging to a security blanket; on the other, to
recognize that Dumbledore, with all of his power and wisdom, has moments of weakness, and to accept this and trust him with all his failings, is the mark
of a mature man. Harry’s insistent declaration that “I trusted the man I knew” is a powerfully-delivered line in the film—and indeed Daniel Radcliffe’s
final Potter performance was outstanding—but it reveals very little about the long, inward struggle Harry endures to reach that point.

I think though, that the strongest performance in this film was Alan Rickman’s; his characterization of Snape has always been intriguing and enigmatic;
I’ve found it far more difficult to detest him on screen than in the books. Snape has very little screen time in the second half of the film of course,
but what presence he has is powerfully allocated; the shot of him staring out of one of the castle windows at Hogwarts conveys all of the emotion that
we don’t get when we see Snape’s memories in the pensive. If a lot of the film is condensed, it does a phenomenal job packing some very powerful punches
with one-liners and swift screenshots. It might certainly have been interesting to see more of Snape’s relationship with Lily played out in the pensive,
but the script more than makes up for that with Snape’s final words to Harry: “You have your mother’s eyes.”

The film certainly did do its best to strike a fine balance between action and dialogue, and for the most part, it succeeded. All in all, a highly enjoyable
and authentic adaptation.

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