Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The Book:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling, 2007.

I read it shortly after its release, at my mother's house in Olivia while we waited for what ended up being close to three full months as our house was put back together after a roofer ruined it. But that's another post. I am sad to say that on my first reading, I missed probably 40% of what really happened simply because I wanted to get to the end, to finish it, because I was that jazzed about knowing how it would all wrap up, so I speed-read and finished it in probably a day or two.  I was emotional, more then than I am now as I was five months preggo and concerned about the house and all that was going on, but I'm pretty sure that I cried from about the twenty-third chapter on to the end. As I felt with LOST, Rowling could have pretty much wrote any damned thing, no matter how ridiculous, and I would have swallowed it happily. It's sad when things you like come to an end, granted, we all need closure and catharsis, but it's still a bittersweet thing. There are cheesy things about this book, this specific, final installment of the series, but I swallowed them happily.

My very, very favorite passage:

"He closed his eyes and turned the stone over in his hand three times. . . Lily's smile was widest of all. She pushed her long hair back as she drew close to him, and her green eyes, so like his, searched his face hungrily, as though she would never be able to look at him enough.
'You've been so brave.'
He could not speak. His eyes feasted on her, and he thought that he would like to stand and look at her forever, and that would be enough."

I can't read it without crying.

And while I appreciate the recurring, snappy little bits of prose that have been part of the series from the beginning ("Ron agreed with the sole proviso that their next move took them within reach of a bacon sandwich," or "Snape flapped after the girls, looking ludicrously bat-like, like his older self.") it's the story of these people that really captured me.

The Film:

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, part one, 2010, directed by David Yates.

This, more than any other, was a film for fans of the book. If you didn't like the book, it's almost certain that you will not like this film. The thing I liked most about this film was its subtlety. If you know what's happened and you know what's coming, then you will see this film as a brilliant Valentine to the book, and all of the books previous. If you don't know the names of the characters (and if this bothers you), then you have no business being in the theater. Each time a supporting character, old or new, is introduced, the writers have done their homework; there is just enough background given or somehow otherwise referenced that we still feel as though we're in the loop.

Ollivander: Wandmaker. Owns Ollivander's Wand Shop. You should remember him. Also referenced by the woman being interrogated by Dolores Umbridge at the Ministry; "I didn't steal my wand, I got it at Ollivander's!"

Elphias Dodge: Friend of Dumbledore's. Wrote obituary in Daily Profit shown in one of Harry's first scenes before he leaves Privet Drive (camera lingers on name and photo in an obvious way). Speaks with Harry at Fleur and Bill's wedding. Mentions Aberforth Dumbledore, who will become important in next film.

Xenophilius Lovegood: should need no explaining at all.

Bathilda Bagshot: Writer of History of Magic. Referenced by Elphias Dodge and Aunt Muriel at Fleur and Bill's wedding.

This is a great film because they refuse to spoon-feed you. There is subtlety (certain scenes just end and fade to black as though they were little vignettes), there is comedy (Mad Eye Moody in the flight of the 7 Harrys and dialogue, George Weasley's silent expression changes as he watches Harry and Ginny make out), and dammit, there IS action.

The opening sequence at Malfoy's ends with Nagini eating the Muggle Studies professor; it's played down, but the snake is interesting. Flight of the 7 Harrys; it's tense and exciting. The revelation of Kreacher's secret and his subsequent capture of Mundungus Fletcher; this is not exactly Michael Bay-style jets flying over a salute-level action, but it's interesting, and driving! The Ministry of Magic. Encountering Nagini at Godric's Hollow. The Destruction of the Horcrux. Bellatrix at Malfoy Manor. The Animated re-telling of the story of the three brothers. Voldemort has the Elder Wand.

I hadn't ever been to a film on opening night before; experiencing this was amazing. There was applause (mostly for DOBBY!), there were tense, hushed speculations being reasoned (whose patronus led Harry to the sword?) and there were sniffs and tears (I'm thinking mine were probably the loudest). I had a great time. And while I honestly *cannot wait* for the second installment of the film, I have a very strong suspicion that I will walk into the theater, sit down, open my bag of skittles, and promptly start bawling because I will not want it to end. I made bets with myself during the night of LOST'S finale as to just how long I'd be able to keep it together-----I watched the special before the actual feature, you know, the ones where fans wrote in their LOST goodbyes and they edited them onto scenes from the show? Yeah, complete water works.

To be continued in July. . .