Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010)

Film review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010), directed by David Yates

harrypotter-deathlyhallows1Instead of half-botching the book by trying to fit everything into one film, they’ve actually decided to let the final one be played out over a couple of films. Side effect: more money for Warner Bros., and more Potterverse for the fans, yay!
The trio have decided not to go back to Hogwarts, but in fact stand up and fight. Or at least try to find the remaining horcruxes that Dumbledore vaguely mentioned before he died. They get chased and spend a lot of time in a tent. They argue, split up, get attacked, get back together again and so on.

In this first half of the book, it’s four deaths and a wedding, more or less. The downside is that I had just finished reading the book, so the things I wanted to be in the film weren’t, and things were changed and bits were missing and all that. Some I can see the point of, such as that they didn’t eavesdrop on Dean Thomas outside the tent, but others were a shame, like Kreacher turning out to be a really nice guy deep down and that all he needed was a bit of kindness. Or Lupin’s angst. I was really looking forward to that last part! And nothing! For shame!

Because they haven’t bothered to include certain things in the previous films, all of a sudden, Bill Weasley (Brendan Gleeson’s son Domhnall!) drop out of nowhere and from nowhere, he’s going to marry “hey isn’t that the French girl from the fourth film, Fleur wossname?” (yes, yes it is). Their relationship was never introduced in the 6th film, so it’s a bit of a surprise. And where’s Charlie Weasley, anyway?

My biggest question is, considering how important Harry’s old invisibility cloak actually is for the plot of the final book and how much they use it, why is it never present in this film? They also use polyjuice potion a whole lot, especially in places like the wedding, just because Harry can’t be seen at the Burrows as he’s supposed to be missing. Hence why he’s polyjuiced into some random boy passed off as a Weasley cousin. I can see why they did it, i.e. didn’t want to hire another actor or something, but if he’s meant to be hiding, he can’t just walk around as Harry Potter, surely? At the Ministry, when they all take the potion at the same time, how come it stops working at different times for the three of them? (And for that matter, why do their voices stay the same? Surely the vocal cords would also be transformed? It’s been bugging me since they tried sneaking into the Slytherin common room to spy on Malfoy.)

Maybe I’ll be less bugged by the inconsistencies with the book when the concluding part comes out in July, because at least it’s been about 7-8 months since I finished the book by then, so I won’t remember as many details that they’ve left out. (Here lies Dobby, a free elf.)

Sounds like I didn’t care much for it. On the contrary. Although if they mess up Snape’s memories in the next one, I shall truly be very cross indeed. They may have decided explaining why he’s the half-blood Prince is on a need-to-know basis, but his story really deserves to be told to the cinema audience, even to people who haven’t read the books!

The scene where Ron is trying to destroy one of the horcruxes, he has a vision of Harry and Hermione getting friendly, real friendly. That was surprising, in a sort of “oh gosh, I didn’t expect them to quite do it that way!”

Another thing I really liked – no, better make that my favourite part of the film, actually! – was Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans). Who would have thought the Welsh bum of a flatmate in Notting Hill could scrub up that nicely? And by nicely, I mean, HOT DANG, WOOH!

Gratuitous piccy of Luna’s dad, in a fit of fatherly angst.

Other nice eye candy is of course provided by Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs), looking more and more dishevelled as the film progresses, and Remus Lupin (David Thewlis) – the only guy who looks lush despite having a mustache. And professor Snape (Alan Rickman), certainly. Which is just as well, because it’s a very dark film. It begins with a woman hanging upside down over a table, and then she’s killed and eaten by a snake. And then more death, imprisonment and misery. We need to have some things to lighten it up. Harry and Hermione dancing is one, it looked about as awkward as someone’s dad dancing at a wedding.

It’s an emotional ride, if you’re a fan. These people are very much like your friends, and when they’re in trouble, or even get killed, it hurts. I had tears in my eyes as Hedwig went right at the beginning. That’s something I really loved about the film! Instead of having her couped up in the cage, making her a sitting duck (owl) for the Death Eaters when the spells start whizzing through the air, Harry sets her free. And she gets to die a hero’s death, not just a bang, you’re dead. Very well done. That was one of the things I didn’t like about the book! She’s a friggin’ OWL, she can FLY – let her FLY. She might still die, but at least give her a fighting chance first!

Speaking of leaving the Dursleys, I really thought it such a shame Dudley didn’t get to have his character progression. Oh well. The Dursleys weren’t even in the last one. Hermione erasing her dentist parents memories was also touching. Such a difficult thing to do to the people you love.

This movie had me cry. I rarely actually burst into tears at the cinema, and have not done so over these films previously, nor on any readings of the books. This one, after Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham-Carter, fab as always) has gone a bit too apeshit, you know, near the end … couldn’t hold back the tears. Sure, it could be compared with how long they spend on an entire planet being blown up vs how long they dwell on ONE Ewok in Star Wars, but does it matter?

The final film is going to be such an emotional rollercoaster that I’m partially dreading it, as much as I’m looking forward to it. People are going to die, characters I care about, and Hogwarts is going to be blown to pieces. It’s going to be very painful to watch, but it’s going to be worth it. The End has begun.

4.5 out of 5 dungeons.

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