Posts Tagged ‘Harry Potter’

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Revisiting the Monster

23/09/2012

It’s taken me more than a year to readdress the subject of monsters in literature as I promised, but not because material is lacking or because I lost interest. In fact, I’m more interested than ever. My original goal was to present an analysis of characters widely recognized as literary “monsters”; since my first post, though, my focus has shifted. I’ve been working on my first novel and so I am more interested, and attuned to, the nuances of light and dark – the shades of gray – and cannot maintain a detached academic position. The darkness is seductive, and the truth is that we all have darkness as well as light inside of us. Read the rest of this entry ?

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“Harry is the best hope we have. Trust him.”

24/11/2010

*Spoiler Alert: if you haven’t read or seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, stop reading now.*

After months — years, really — of waiting, we’re nearing the very end of an epic journey. Many of us remember when we first met Harry Potter, the almost-eleven-year-old orphan who learned that he was a wizard and thus set off on the path to facing his true destiny. For me, it was in fifth grade when Ms. Klesel started reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone to us one afternoon. From there, we’ve traveled with Harry and his friends through seven books and now, seven movies with the final chapter soon to follow.

Last night I went with my mom and Matt to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Despite wanting to go to the midnight showing I held off, not only so she could go with me but also because, after the cinematic disaster that was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince I was afraid that David Yates and crew would scavenge yet another of my beloved books. Don’t get me wrong; HBP was a good movie on its own merits, and the cast definitely lived up to the reputation they have created for themselves. However, anybody who’s met me knows that I am a Harry Potter purist and that the departures they made from the sixth book only made the movie less than it could have been.

Fortunately, I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the opening frames it was clear that the production crew took full advantage of splitting the 759-page final installment into two movies, and that they did not skimp on details. A few changes were made for the sake of continuity (and emotional effect): rather than hearing about Hermione wiping her parents’ memories as a painful reflection, we get to share the heart-wrenching moment. To move the plot along, we (sadly) miss out on Molly Weasley’s amazing Snitch cake and Harry’s birthday goes largely unnoticed. And, of course, three pages of romantic anxiety between Harry and Ginny (Bonnie Wright is absolutely gorgeous) was condensed into one pretty steamy encounter in the kitchen — witnessed by a levity-sharing George rather than the much more protective Ron.

Small adjustments along these lines are made throughout the film, but unlike in previous films the edits do little to take away from the story (with one exception, as I discuss below). Yates and crew have managed to take 501 pages — 23 chapters — relatively light on action and wring from them every last drop of emotion. Sadness, isolation and growing tension are palpable as Harry, Ron and Hermione Disapparate from hiding place after hiding place, searching for answers (and Horcruxes) while hardly knowing the questions and facing frustration — not to mention life-threatening encounters — at nearly every turn. The discovery of the Deathly Hallows adds yet another angle to the adventure.

The cast, meanwhile, has far surpassed everything we’ve seen from them previously. Daniel Radcliffe has an amazing emotional range that allows him to bring Harry Potter to life as if he himself has transformed from the mild, inquisitive boy in the cupboard under the stairs to the young man who must balance fear, anger, love and hate with the incredible burden of the fate of the wizarding world. Hermione and Ron, likewise, have stayed at Harry’s side while discovering their own deeper connection, and Emma Watson and Rupert Grint are brilliant in their portrayals. On the other side, Ralph Fiennes is spectacularly creepy as a more expressive Voldemort than in past movies, and Helena Bonham Carter’s Bellatrix continues to impress as the delightfully wicked Bellatrix.

Cameo appearances made my little heart sing as well. While Bill and Fleur’s wedding was sadly redacted to move the plot along, we still get a few glimpses of Clémence Poésy (also seen in one of my favorites, In Bruges) as the Beauxbatons graduate and new Mrs. Weasley. Bill Nighy, who needs no introduction, appears as the ill-fated Minister of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour. Helen McCrory (of The Queen) reprises her role as Narcissa Malfoy, while the gruff and talented David O’Hara (The Tudors: Season 4 and The Departed) gets all-too-little camera time as Albert Runcorn — Harry’s Polyjuice ticket into the Ministry of Magic. I only wish he would have had some speaking time as well! Speaking of the Ministry, fans of Imelda Staunton’s Dolores Umbridge will have another chance to see their favorite magical mean girl.

The movie wasn’t perfect, of course. In the “Seven Potters” scene, for example, Mad-Eye Moody cuts Tonks off mid-sentence just as she’s about to announce her pregnancy. Since the trio’s time at Grimmauld Place is later cut short as well, we also miss out on Lupin’s crisis of conscience — a plot point that unfortunately make it somewhat odd when Teddy Lupin makes his appearance in Part 2. However, there is still plenty of time in the story for the revelation, and after the masterpiece that is Part 1, I have every confidence that they’ll incorporate it pretty seamlessly.

I could probably write an entire book deconstructing the movie, but in a rare moment I find that to be unnecessary. If you’ve read the book then nothing you see will surprise you, and as Voldemort thrusts the elder wand into the night sky with a shout of triumph, you will already be counting down the days until the final battle.

(There are 233.)

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