DIR: David Yates • WRI: Steve Kloves • PRO: David Barron, David Heyman • DOP: Eduardo Serra • ED: Mark Day • DES: Stuart Craig • CAST: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is the newest and seventh instalment in the movie interpretation of J.K Rowling’s iconic Harry Potter series. Lord Voldemort’s power is growing stronger, and he now has his gnarled little grey fingers in plenty of magical pies, including Hogwarts. Harry and his sidekicks Ron and Hermione, still reeling from the death of their beloved Dumbledore, must meticulously adhere to Dumbledore’s plan to defeat Voldemort, or risk losing everything they hold dear and, if Voldemort has anything to do with it, their lives.
Harry Potter has always existed as good wholesome family fun before the Fat Wizard in red makes his way down our chimneys. The success of the franchise has led to a stepping-up of the gears with each film. Here we have an enormous budget put to great use as the special effects used are seamless and fine-tuned to perfection. Nothing is out of place and each scene shows the budget to have been put to good use.
The one thing which the Harry Potter franchise has got going for it that many similar franchises lack is heart. Our unlikely heroes, as actors, have grown up with the series and as an audience we have watched them mature. There is something charming about each of our main characters, which draws us deeper into the narrative. Ralph Fiennes, as always, steals screen magnificence as the incorrigible Lord Voldemort, effortlessly evil, and yet played so perfectly that it is difficult to imagine a Harry Potter instalment without his brilliance. Whilst Harry Potter seemed somewhat irritating in his first outing, Daniel Radcliffe now so perfectly embodies the beloved character that the name cannot be uttered without mentally conjuring up his face faster than you can say ‘Avada Kadavr’.
The thing which sets this instalment apart is that there is no necessity for further character development. By this point (instalment seven) the audience already knows all they need to know about their characters, and we know how each of them react under pressure. For a lesser franchise a lack of development would be detrimental, but here, it works. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, a perfect balance is struck between revelation, and exploration of lesser known characters to allow action to take the place of developing our trio.
Whilst the film’s creators do have quite a lot of content to include to do justice to the last book in the series, or risk the wrath of fans with wands and brooms, it remains slightly beyond me why they feel the need to make the movie in two parts. The filmmakers have always been masterful at breezing over important plot-points, and revealing their full import later on, but here they seek to reveal everything. Much of the content could have been visually insinuated as opposed to being dwelled on, and the storyline that exists here would moved much faster if the parts were merged into one. As enjoyable as Harry Potter movies always are, this feels over-long and slightly drawn-out in places, which doesn’t bode well for Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2. After all, Peter Jackson saw no need to split The Lord of The Rings into smaller, bite-size portions than what Tolkien intended. The novel is an entity in its own right, but it exists as one narrative independent of the rest, and should really have been treated as such.
The franchise has one of the most loyal and dedicated fan-bases in movie history, and so we know that both movies are destined to do excellently, but I fear that in splitting the novel into two movies, its creators have dollar signs in their eyes, as opposed to a vision of how Rowling’s vision can be best brought to life. So Stephanie Meyer take note, splitting one novel into two movies may not be the best choice for a cohesive storyline.
This instalment is, however, a wonderful example of how a film can grow with its audience as it touches upon some major issues, and is infinitely more adult in content than its predecessors. Our trio have grown up, and their friendship has matured into something that is actually rather beautiful to witness on screen. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is a contradiction in terms. Dark, but incredibly enjoyable to watch.