The Red Carpet Screens: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1Part one of the epic two part finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was great. But it left everyone wanting more. 

The experience is not unlike being taken to a lavish all expenses paid three course meal and, just before dessert is served, you are told that you have to leave. Worst of all, we are forced to wait an additional eight months for our just desserts.

In addition to the unfortunate wait, it goes without saying that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is not a word for word recreation of JK Rowling’s exquisite books. Instead it is a artistically thoughtful recreation.

However, just like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood prince, this is by no means a bad thing.

With this latest movie installment of the Harry Potter series, the visual cinematic flair is once again flush with the book. Following the tone set in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood prince, British director David Yates has managed to capture, almost perfectly from page to screen, the progressively dark and emotional themes found in the later books of the Harry Potter series. Furthermore, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are spectacular in this film with each actor showcasing how much they have grown over the last nine, almost ten, years. The onscreen chemistry between these actors is phenomenal and they perform their roles with absolute aplomb.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Without a doubt Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a visually stunning movie. However, therein lies the problem.

Although I am sincerely happy that the creators of this beautifully crafted movie took the time and energy to divide the last book in the Harry Potter series into two parts, I cannot help but feel that they short changed the audience by wasting a lot of time showcasing how beautiful the United Kingdom’s countryside is. Look, I thoroughly enjoy cinematic shots of sweeping vistas and unbelievably spectacular vantage points, some of my favourite scenes in the movie revolve around those shot in the country side with just Harry and Hermione left to their own devices. However, given the two movie split, all these exquisite scenes served to do was draw out what will inevitably become a rushed story. Let me explain.

In contrast to the previous movies in this series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 comes across as a fully fledged drama, sparsely sprinkled with elements of adventure and action. Given the source material, I can understand why this change was necessary. However, what perplexes me most is the way the movie was executed. Essentially two and a half hours is dedicated to the characters dealing with the fact that Dumbledore is dead and that they now need to find the Horcruxes in order to defeat Voldemort. Even though the movie was loaded with references from the past books/movies, which fans will enjoy, I cannot help but feel that this final story was split in two purely for monetary reasons. After all, they managed to fit the longest book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, into a single movie.

Given the running time of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, I personally feel that they could have better explained the story featured in the 470 odd pages before (highlight to reveal) Dobby  meets his untimely demise. This is especially true for those who have not read the books. Instead this movie is merely used as an arbitrary and visually delightful precursor of what is to come in the ultimate finale. As a result, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 feels unnecessarily, yet beautifully, drawn out. A lot of build up with little payoff. Understandably, the movie is only one half of a full story, but the fact of the matter is that the movie could have been made to stand on its own. Those who have read the books all know how richly detailed the Harry Potter universe is. No doubt the epic finale will be a non-stop thrill ride, but my fear is that this forthcoming sequel will feel rushed. However, only time will tell if this should serve to be the case.

Despite my grievances with the sparse story elements; the screenplay, acting and production values for the movie are simply fantastic.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that they are some of the best in the entire series and more than make up for the arguably inadequate use of the source material. The movie makes use of spectacular visual effects and awe inspiring camera work which, truthfully, makes the two and a half hour runtime fly by (true fans can never get enough of being immersed in the Harry Potter universe). 

Compared to other movies in this series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is an intense drama, and rightfully so. If you are an action fan, you are out of luck. Despite the excellent action scenes, they far and few between. Nevertheless, I do believe that almost all audience members will find themselves, at some point, laughing aloud with joy, cringing with fear, swooning with understanding, sobbing in sorrow and asking for more. I know I did.

Fans, young and old, will enjoy this latest ride into the world of Harry Potter. Just bear in mind that the movie does end on a bit of a sour note with a cliffhanger that would leave even the happiest of people feeling slightly morose. Do not worry though, as that feeling will subside around the 11th July 2011 when Part 2 is released! As long as you can accept that you will only be watching one half of a story, you will thoroughly enjoy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

The Red Carpet gives Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1: 7/10.

The movie was screened in the Il Grande theatre at NuMetro cinema’s inside Monte Casino, Johannesburg. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 releases nationwide on Wednesday 24th November 2010.

Once you have watched the movie, why not cap off the evening with an almost perfect Butterbeer recipe. Go on, try it!

Until the next time “Milieunairs”!

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Hans Haupt
wirtten by: Hans Haupt