The first part of the climax to the Harry Potter series is much different than its predecessors. It features whole new kinds of depression, anxiety and an anger that the previous films simply did not have. In the past books and films, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his crew had to overcome obstacles and that was that, even though they knew something more was coming. There were epic battles and other scenes that showed Potter striving for some illusive goal. This time around, Harry, Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasely (Rupert Grint) are alone and confused in a dark and sinister world.
Spoilers to follow.
With the death of Dumbeldore (Michael Gambon) in The Half-Blood Prince, the trio are left with the task of destroying the remaining Horcruxes, objects that Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) used to split his soul so he could become invincible. But there were no instructions, no clues or any indications of where they had to go. A lot of this first part of The Deathly Hallows focuses on the tension between the trio as they try to figure those things out, and the film shows this well. In the book, those moments of helplessness drag on, but it’s that familiar pang that hits you. Even though the film couldn’t let these scenes lag, the tension is shown through their body language, arguments, and even by the lonely landscapes they must travel to in order to stay hidden from everyone who is trying to capture Undesirable Number One (Harry).
The desperate battle scenes and thrilling chase sequences seem a little more subdued than they did in the book. From the beginning where Potter’s friends and companions join together to take him from the Dursley’s to the Weasley’s, I thought the journey through the clouds could have been much bigger and scarier. Later, when Harry and Hermione visit Godric’s Hollow for a little nostalgia and some answers, there is an attack that could have been far more gruesome.
But adrenaline aside, it was actually a good thing that the film didn’t spend all its time on these sequences. This film may feel like its in a rush at some points (*cough* the end) and slowed down at others, but it all seems to make sense. The filmmakers stayed very true to the book in their script, and anything that was changed was woven back into the film for an interesting new angle. There are a few times where someone who hasn’t read the books might not understand what’s happening — especially with character motivations and suspicions — but if you get lost just ask your movie-going pal for some context (*cough* again, the end). Basically, this first half of the story is everything that I just described: the anxiety of finding Horcruxes and staying hidden, and ends with the introduction of what the Deathly Hallows are and why the trio needs to be associated with them. (Dun dun dun, what’s to come!)
Never before has a Harry Potter film felt so close to the book. Locations looked like they were ripped right from the pages, the acting is spot on, and the film retains the humour and hopeful moments that are used to break up the sadness. Since the film was split into two parts, the filmmakers really had time to explore many things.
As a fan that has spent most of her life growing up with Harry Potter, everything has been leading up until now. These are the pivotal moments of Harry’s existence, and unlike before, the climax he’s working toward is the last one. Every fibre of his being is trickling up into his fingertips, waiting to be unleashed. Watching these 146 or so minutes, it will feel like you’re right there with him. As you’re blasted back into your seat like I was by not the action scenes, but by the humanizing ones, the anticipation for Part 2 is evermore thrilling.