Monday, August 8, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

It has been weeks since the last installment of the Harry Potter movies was released, but I kept postponing writing the review out of sheer laziness. A day or two ago my father gently reminded me about how long ago we went to watch the movie, and so it sort of dawned upon me, and I finally pushed  myself to sit and write down the review that I have been framing in my head for so long today.

My father, a student of his and I went to watch the second installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the first show of the second day. Daddy and I had been rather worried that we would not get the tickets if we did not reach the hall much before the show timing. But strangely enough, once the show had begun we found that far from being houseful, there were rows of empty seats in front of us!
This installment began from where the last part had ended, in Shell Cottage, at Dobby’s grave. For a while, Harry sat silently in front of the tiny grave. He then went inside the beautifully kept cottage of Bill and Fleur.  It was evident that in spite of the war going on outside, it did not affect the Cottage interior at all. Such minute details have made the movie very heart warming.

The next few scenes were done very beautifully. As Bellatrix Lestrange, the sadistic Death Eater and Lord Voldemort’s devotee, Helena Bonham Carter has always done well, but where she outdid herself was as Hermione disguised as Lestrange. Her first appearance as Hermione-disguised-Bellatrix was at Shelly Cottage itself, where Hermione had just had her Polyjuice Potion. The first thing that she asks on appearing in front of Ron and Harry was “Well? How do I look?”! It was one of the many sweet lines that the director has included in the movie. Helena played the part of Hermione-playing-Belllatrix splendidly. She walked clumsily, looked very awkward and completely ill-at-ease with herself. She even replied to a man who had wished her good morning in the Diagon Alley courteously, totally unlike what the real Bellatrix would do. As the book says, she aroused suspicion in the minds of people, and very soon everybody knew she was an imposter, and only Ron’s timely use of the Imperius Curse on the Head goblin of Gringrotts saved the day.

One of the most charming things about the movie is that the director has blended touches of humour in the most threatening and risky moments of the movie. When, after having retrieved Hupplepuff’s cup from the Gringrotts vault, Harry, Ron and Hermione had been deceived by Griphook their guide who had stolen the real sword of Griffindor and left them to die, and they had to find some way to escape from the bank, Hermione says very matter-of-factly that she has found a way to escape, though it is very risky. Then she jumps down on the dragon’s back, and urges Ron and Harry to follow suit, almost as if riding a dragon is the most normal thing in a wizard’s life. They free the dragon, which stretches its wings and flies out of the bank, destroying a major part of it. The dragon scene was well done overall, but I kept feeling that it had lost some of its grandeur of the fourth movie. Maybe that was because this dragon was a half starved and sickly dragon that had been forcefully chained in for protecting the vault…

In this movie, the director has concentrated on the Battle of Hogwarts, so by the ending of the first hour of the movie, Harry and his friends had apparated to Hogsmeade to try and sneak into Hogwarts by some means. However their landing in Hogsmeade had turned on the curfew alarm that had been set by the Death Eaters. They are rescued by Aberforth Dumbledore, Dumbledore’s brother, and with his help, they follow a secret tunnel through a picture of the Dumbledores’ sister’s, and come out in the Room of Requirements, where many students now seemed to live.

Here, the director has added some more of those quirky lines. After a huge applause that greeted Harry’s arrival, and the anticlimax when on seeing Ginny Harry just says “Hi”, the trio tell the people in the room “We have to find something, but we don’t know what it is, and where it can be found”! Then, as Snape addresses the students in the Great Hall and urges them to come up with any information they had of Harry’s movements that evening, Harry steps out of the group of students and says, “It seems despite your exhaustive defensive strategies, you still have a bit of a security problem, Headmaster.”!

The eeriest part of the movie was positively the voice of Voldemort that rang through the school. At first, one girl started screaming in the Hall, and then another. And then the cold and steely voice of Voldemort could be heard all through the Hall, asking for Harry and commencing the battle of Hogwarts.

From here began the thrilling part of the movie. The visual effects were very real; you could almost feel them happening to you. The preparations that were made to protect Hogwarts were portrayed very effectively. The simultaneous charm cast by the professors and some Order members formed a kind of milky white transparent globe around the castle, protecting it. Professor McGonagall used a powerful charm to call in all the statues of Hogwarts to form an army. After using the spell, she said with childish glee, “I have always wanted to use that spell.”

The scene after Harry’s first death, in King’s Cross Station with Dumbledore was painfully white and bright. The part of Voldemort’s soul that had been destroyed and was lying as a charred baby was pitiable, yet disgusting. It was at that point that Dumbledore tells Harry not to pity the dead. The last part, where Harry is about to return to the world of the living, he asks Dumbledore whether this was real, or it was happening his head. Then, in a very Dumbledore-ish fashion, Dumbledore says, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”  However, here I feel it would have been much better if Richard Harris could have played the role of Dumbledore for the rest of the movies as well. I have always felt that Richard Harris was the real Dumbledore, not Michael Gambon, and that feeling came out strongly in me when Dumbledore said this line. This line, somehow, would have sounded much more real coming from Mr Harris...

The Battle has been portrayed on an epic scale, better than the original text, in fact. Characters like Neville and Luna and the Hogwarts Professors have been given their due recognition. The way that Neville cut off Nagini’s head was nothing short of grand. Snape’s death was cruel, but thankfully it was not shown in the movie. The scene where Hermione and Ron go to the Chambers of Secrets to get a Basilisk fang and destroy the Hupplepuff cup was not there in the book, where Hermione and Ron come and tell Harry that they have already destroyed it, but it was a very nice alternation. The part where Bellatrix dies in the hands of the gentle Molly Weasley is another scene to look out for, but the best of all is the duel between Harry and Voldemort. There is real fighting and dueling in the movie. Unlike in the book, this duel continues for quite some time, in which Harry gets repeatedly bashed by Voldemort, and finally throws himself and Voldemort off the roof of a tower. They land outside the castle entrance, where the final duel takes place. The Elder Wand cannot kill its master, and Harry being its true master his own wand overpowers it, and it flies out of Voldemort’s hand. Harry catches it deftly, and Voldemort’ own death curse affects him, killing him once and for all…

The next part is short, but touching. Harry moves through the Great Hall, where all the dead and the injured wait for him. There is a faint smile on the faces of all those who are alive. The dead are being mourned. Harry sees the bodies of Fred, Lupin, Tonks. On the other side, Neville and Luna sit beside each other, with a look of contentment identical on both their faces.

And finally, nineteen years later. It was a very nice way to end a great story. Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione see their children off to Hogwarts, some for the first time. Ron especially looks like a very satisfied family man. He has grown a paunch, and it looks like Hermione has been feeding him continuously for the last nineteen years!  Even Draco has come to see his son Scorpius off, and he even smiles at Harry and family! The train rolls off, with all the children waving their parents’ goodbye, and there begins the story of the next generation.

After the movie was over, I felt slightly incomplete, as if a part of me had ended with the movie. It was certainly a grand end of an era. For those like us, who have grown up with Harry Potter, a fan has nicely summed up this last movie in a letter of hers to the production team: “Goodbye Childhood". But for me, Harry Potter will go on forever. That is the beauty of good books and movies, I guess. Even after you have finished reading them or watching them, a part of them stays with you, your dear friend, forever.