Skippy Goes To The Movies!: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” July 15, 2011Posted by Skippy in Music, Observations.
Tags: geekery, nerdalicious
Writing a review of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” is a bit difficult for me. For one, I think that Part 1 has to be taken into account. As the second part of a movie, I think it functions quite well. It doesn’t require the viewer to catch up…too much. Of course, if you’ve never seen any of the other movies or read the books, you’ll be lost—that should go without saying at this point.
Also, I think that, like the “Lord of the Rings” movies, one has to consider how this movie functions as part of a larger narrative. As part of the entire Harry Potter franchise, this movie acquits itself well. It hits all the high points and strikes most of the right chords—however, there just seemed to be something missing. It seemed as though getting to those chords and moments felt rushed. Having read the final book, I knew there were two scenes that I wanted to see (Molly Weasley’s confrontation with Bellatrix Lestrange and Neville Longbottom being the hero of the day)—and while I did see them, they weren’t nearly as satisfying as they were in the book. I will say that the development of Snape’s character was as powerful as it was long overdue and served to be the strongest part of the movie.
Oddly enough, I found myself far less interested in Ron, Hermione and Harry and more interested in the other characters—I can’t say that this is a fault of the movie, however. It was a reaction I had when reading the Deathly Hallows as well. That said, Harry as a character has finally grown up. We see that he has learned the lessons taught to him in the seven previous movies (and six books), and frankly, it’s a good thing. I was getting a little tired of the last couple of movies’ penchant for turning into a Harry Potter Mopes About extravaganza. In this movie, Harry is determined, focused, and yes, grown-up.
I think that, like the aforementioned “Lord of the Rings” movies, it is necessary to evaluate this movie as ending a particular phase in popular culture and entertainment. Frankly, I think that that last consideration is far more interesting than the first two points. As such, I don’t really think of this as a movie review. I think of this as more of a reflection on the passage of time and our investment in sagas.
Ten years ago, two movie events happened that I had absolutely zero interest in. My friends dragged me to both “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” If memory serves me, “Sorcerer’s Stone” came out before “Fellowship.” After the Harry Potter movie, I thought, “Well, that was nice. Cute.” After “Fellowship of the Ring,” I couldn’t shut up about how much I loved it; after dinner, I raced to Borders (amazing what changes in ten years, right?) and bought the books as well as Howard Shore’s score. I devoured the books in the span of about a month and spent the next three years writing my dissertation to the music from the LOTR movies. I was as much a fan of the LOTR movies as my friends were of the Harry Potter books and movies and while Harry Potter didn’t “do it” for me the way the LOTR books/movies did, I understand what was happening. You see, both of these fantasy books and movies came and went during a time of great change. Obviously, we all know that during the latter part of 2001, the United States was dealing with the terrible events of September 11. I think that both “Fellowship of the Ring” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” came along when people needed a simple yet fantastical narrative to take their minds off of the shock, the grief, and the anger.
When I say that the Harry Potter movies are fairly simple, it’s not an insult. These movies and the books upon which they’re based address simple themes of love, good versus evil, and loyalty. Further, I think they serve as a form of wish-fulfillment. We watch these movies and we the viewer begin to inhabit the stories presented. For me, I could relate to LOTR and often characterized graduate school as “bearing the One Ring” or “going to Mount Doom.” Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, has to learn how to be a decent human being—certainly, the world of Harry Potter is a world of magic, but it is still a world to which we can relate. His story is the story that we all think we’re in, especially as we grow up and—as in the case of 9/11—are forced to deal with a radically changed and frighteningly uncertain world. While I may not have thought this finale to be as emotionally satisfying as the end of the Lord of the Rings movies, I do understand that for millions of people, this finale represents the end of an era.