Friday, July 15, 2011
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II
Well, just like the poster says, it all ends. And for me it just ended. It's over. And I'm so sad right now. It's like I just said a final goodbye to great friends I've known for almost a decade. I knew it was coming, of course, and tried to prepare myself and yet I'm still overwhelmed with sadness. Hopefully writing this review will be cathartic.
It's hard to put into words what this series, created by J.K. Rowling, has meant to me. I know many feel the same. And yet when I first experienced the world of Harry Potter almost ten years ago I had no idea I'd feel this way at the journey's end. I came late to the party, skipping the books which were first published in 1997. I just assumed they were for kids. So my first experiences were the first two movies in 2001 and 2002 respectively. And I thought they were cute, kid-friendly fantasy films. 'Lord of the Rings' lite, if you will. Dumbledore even looked like Gandalf, but significantly softer. But I was wrong. By the third film I began to notice how the storyline was maturing. This was a solid film. Unfortunately the fourth was a misstep and the worst of the series in my opinion, but I could still sense big things were to come. So, in 2007, right before the seventh and final book was released I decided to go back and read all the books. I read all seven in around two months. And what a great two months it was. Similar to the movies, the books matured as they went along. And the last three were all tremendous. What started as young wizards in magic school evolved into an epic battle between good and evil. And similarly the last four movies, directed by David Yates, a relative unknown, were nothing short of perfection. I still can't believe they entrusted these beloved books to be brought to life on screen by a guy who had never made a big film before. But I'm so glad they did because no one else could have done a better job.
And I can't neglect to mention the cast. So, so good. Who would have thought that three kids, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint, all cast before they were teenagers would grow into such fine actors. And the supporting cast is absolutely phenomenal. Alan Rickman can convey more with a look than most actors can with the best dialogue. (Not to mention his incomparable ability to painfully stretch out words.) And how about Maggie Smith, Michael Gambone, Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Jim Broadbent, Bill Nighy, and so many others? Oh my lord. So, so good.
My experience at the last film was perfect. Yes, I read the book, but it was four years ago so the storyline was foggy enough that I got to experience it all over again. And it all worked so well. Even one particular part of the book I thought was hokey worked well on screen. Are there some things about it I might have done differently? Sure. But that doesn't mean it's not also perfect just the way it was written by Rowling and directed by Yates. And I could tell the rest of the audience agreed. We all reacted in synch. For most of the film you could hear a pin drop. But there was laughter at times, mostly to break the tension. And there were sniffles and full on tears as well. I was certainly struggling to hold back the waterworks. And there were cheers and applause in all the right places. You just don't get that kind of reaction for many films. Normally I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of my home, but this was special. This was a collection of devoted Potter fans who had all waited a long time for this moment to come and yet dreaded it at the same time. And then it came. And then it went. I'm so sad to say goodbye. But I'm so glad I got to experience it. Thank you, J.K. Rowling, for creating such a magical world with such wonderful characters. Thank you, David Yates, for bringing the last four films to life just perfectly. And thank you, entire cast, for making this fantasy so real and these characters so beloved. I will miss you all.