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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010) ***1/2

November 18, 2010

 

Written by: Steve Kloves (screenplay) and J.K. Rowling (novel)

Produced by: David Barron and David Heyman

Directed by: David Yates

Rated PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality

146 min.

U.S. Release Date: November 19, 2010


After nearly a decade of watching the maturation (sometime a little bit too fast if we’re talking in a physical sense) and adventures of the characters in the beloved Harry Potter series, the end is finally near.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is the first half of the final epic story, written by author J.K. Rowling, where Harry, Hermoine, and Ron face their darkest journey yet.  English director David Yates, the most “Potterific” director with four films under his belt, takes the helm for the final installment.  Rowling’s novels take a dark twist about halfway through the series as darker forces encroach on Hogwarts and Potter’s magical world, and this appears to be just the fit for Yates, as he has escorted the film series through the same dark metamorphosis.  Each Potter film thus far has delivered an end-to-end product that advances the overall story, but also features a contained adventure that resolves by the end.  In Yates’s latest film, the title suggests that this is but the beginning of the final story.  Are the costume-wearing Potter fans of the world ready for a “filler episode” where the sole purpose is to build up the grand finale?

 

 

 

In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, we pick up right where we left off in the sixth film; Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) is building a team of like-minded dark figures, wreaking havoc across the land, and killing whoever stands in his way.  After Voldemort’s more recent “interactions” with Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), the dark Lord is more motivated than ever to kill his young nemesis.  In a race against time, Harry, Hermoine (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) must find and destroy the Horcruxes (stones which Voldemort and company draw power from).  Along their journey, aside from dodging attacks from Voldemort and withstanding the evil power of the Horcruxes once they find them, the young wizards uncover the existence of the three most secret and powerful objects in the wizarding world: the Deathly Hallows.

 

It’s no secret, given its title, that this film is one giant set up.  The audience is not going to get that wrapped-up resolution that they have received in every other of the Potter films.  Instead, director Yates gets a nice two-and-a-half chunk of time to further the development of the main characters and their individual and collective arches, as well as build suspense for the grand finale and resolution.  That development is, appropriately enough, exactly what we get in this film.  Harry, Ron, and Hermoine spend most of the film in seclusion from the rest of the world with each other, and their three-way relationship gets to flourish which further invests the audience in their stories.

 

 

The overall look of the film is very dark, both in color and tone.  As Yates has done in his previous two Potter films, as the subject matter has gotten more foreboding and dark, so has the color palette and visual style.  In addition to the actually look, the possibility of death hovers over each scene, which raises the stakes from lighthearted and playful in the earlier stories to a much more serious and grim feel in this film.  The jokes and pranks are gone, and now the students must actually put into practice what they have learned.

 

Though there are many elements linking this film to the rest of the Harry Potter series, the incomplete story twist lends itself to a more elevated style of filmmaking than in its predecessors.  Deathly Hallows: Part 1 relishes in the long scenes of dialogue, introspective silence, and storytelling that is not always reliant on computer-generated imagery (though, in this film, there is plenty).  For this reason, I think this film is one of the best in the series, and sets a great ground level for what is sure to be a massive and satisfying finale in July of next year.

 

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Diane permalink
    November 19, 2010 12:33 am

    Sounds like it will be great! Can’t wait to see it tomorrow!
    Just one minor comment on your review, the Horcruxes aren’t “stones which Voldemort and company draw power from”, they are actually places where Voldemort has hidden parts of his soul so he can be immortal. 🙂 Sorry. Just figured I’d clear that up. hehe

    • November 19, 2010 8:56 am

      Sorry. I am but a muggle in a Potterblabber world. If you watch the movies, you might see how I get this impression (i.e. pink dress creepy lady who works at the ministry of magic).

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