November 23, 2010
Family Film Blogging: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
Posted by Christine Hurt

So, like many, many others around the world this weekend, my older kids and I went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.  I feel slightly incompetent to write this review because I have to confess that I have not read all the books.  I am very protective of the precious time I have to read fiction that does not have pictures and does not feature furry red monsters, and quite frankly the books are long.  My kids have read the books, but I come to the movies as merely a cinema fan.  I have seen all the preceding movies, watched in a death march the last month in order to prepare for the finale.  Otherwise, I would have been completely lost.  The movies definitely reward loyal followers.

Of course, it's great.  It's amazing.  It's long, but you hate it when it ends.  The ending is not a cliffhanger (like Han Solo in the carbon freeze), but instead hopefully the nadir of the story arc.  Our band of young wizards has lost a friend, a suitably collateral character, and Valdemort seems to have gained a huge advantage.  I'm holding out hope that our protagonists will pull it out in the ultimate fight of good against evil.  I'm optimistic that way.

The movie, naturally, is reminiscent of other timeless tales of chosen young boys with mystical powers, like Star Wars, Camelot, and others.  The wise mentor has died, but his impact has grown stronger.  Harry, Hermione and Ron will be pulled apart by their basest fears getting the best of them.  At this stage in the saga, the Death-Eaters have taken over the reins of government and are purifying the ranks of wizards and witches of those with mixed blood.  Sympathizers are targeted, and many have moved "underground."  Harry is vulnerable because, being under 17, he cannot go "off the grid" and is easy to track by the Ministry.  However, the three students' powers have grown stronger, so they are able to just stay one step ahead by "apparating" to places around England that Hermione knows from her muggle upbringing.  Probably one of the more interesting scenes is when she takes the two boys to the theater district of London.

The movie focuses on saving Harry, the chosen one, but Hermione has no other options anyway.  Although her plight is scarcely mentioned, she is the Anne Frank of our story, hiding from those who would exterminate her for her muggle blood.  Ron is also not exempt, as his family leads the sympathizer faction.  Because the threesome is on the move, and Dumbledore is dead, this is the first movie that does not take place at Hogwarts, which is a challenge to the filmmakers.  Also, we only briefly see other Hogwarts characters that we like (Hagrid, Prof. Moody, Luna, Neville, and my son's favorite, Ginny Weasley).  We see a lot of the Death-Eaters (Helena Bonham Carter used to be so sweet in those E.M. Forster movies) and followers of Valdemort, including Draco, who has been on the verge of tears for the last two movies, and the very pink Dolores Umbridge.  And we see enough of Snape to still wonder is he a spy?  A double agent?  (Remember, I haven't read the book, but I have seen a lot of movies. . . .)

All in all, it's a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving, and it whets the appetite for this summer's 3-D finale. 

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