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Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows part 1 : because a review is better late than never!

When I  was a kid I read a lot of Enid Blyton, like most other kids,. She was essentially the one person who made me read, save for my father who brought me her books. It began with Noddy, then went into more mature stuff (for want of a better word) like ... the Wishing Chair and the Faraway Tree ... where there were TopsyTurvy Worlds and gnomes and pixies and thought bubbles and children and ... well, you get it don't you?

This was when I actually realised that books invoked feelings in me. They made me happy, they made me sad, they made me laugh, and yes, they made me cry as well.

Something which continues till this day.

When I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the first time, I ... well confess, I had cried when Dobby had died. And, yes, after a long long time in a cinema hall, yesterday, I cried. I don't know why. Books invoke stronger emotions in me, than movies in general, but, I don't know how or why, the scene of Dobby dying, made all those welled up tears in my eyes, flow down my cheeks and ... well, the usual mushy stuff.

The characters in Harry Potter have a way of connecting with us. Maybe it's because of the sheer length of the saga, and the fact that we've stuck on with it for quite a while now. Maybe it's the fact that Harry and his friends have matured with us, progressed along with us. Or maybe it's just that J K Rowling's plain good at her job. Or maybe it's all of these reasons. Whatever it is, it's the fact that they somehow connect, that makes them so very close to us. And Dobby was one of that sort, oh yes.



Reverting to what I had in mind when I started this post, a review.

 HP 7 sure does a good job and there's no denying it. Finally a Harry Potter movie which doesn't make the non-Harry Potter follower (NHPF) feel like he's on a roller coaster wearing a blind-fold. Which I daresay, the past few ones did. They grabbed the NHPF by the scruff of his neck, popped him atop a steed in some Mexican bronc-busting arena and set the steed loose. Unlike those ones, where the non-HP-fan would die a cruel and generally painful death while watching the movie, gaping in utter incomprehension, at the sheer amount of tomfoolery that happened in front of his eyes, this one's milder. More composed. The NHPF, while watching this one, would just die a slow and painless death. Something akin to an overdose of sleeping pills.

So yes, from the point of view of the HP fanatic, this movie might just seem dull at times. Specially when Harry, Ron and Hermoine are wandering in the middle of nowhere; when Harry is in one of his many contemplative phases (weren't there just too many of them?). But the dull part is, needless to say, triumphantly overshadowed by the exceedingly well portrayed ... erm ... not so dull parts.

The story is not new. We all know what happens. We all know what will happen. Voldemort's forces are pretty much everywhere. Death eaters pop up now and then throughout the movie with alarming regularity. The Ministry of Magic has been taken over by the Dark Forces. The fiasco involving the seven Harrys in the beginning, laced with Mundungus Fletcher's double-crossing and the Weasley twins humour make for a cracking start. Hagrid's motorcycle escape and the subsequent regathering at the Burrow bring in the first couple of LumpsInThroats, more of which occur later. The first two are the deaths of Hedwig and Mad-eye Moody respectively. Then there's Bill and Fleur's wedding which fall prey to another Death Eater attack.  Harry, Ron and Hermione (HRH for speed's sake)  flee upon hearing Shacklebolt's warning and Disapparate to some place faraway. Voldemort's growing impatience and frustration as Harry gives him and his Death Eaters the slip many a time are evident. Then there's the finely rendered depiction of HRH breaking into the Ministry with the help of the Polyjuice potion and Umbridge's subsequent confrontation with Harry. Harry now has a price on his head and he's wanted "Undesirable no. 1" by the Wizarding community. The Ministry's malpractices are on the rise and every possible bit of action is taken to ensure the destruction of Muggle borns and Muggle lovers.With great trepidation, HRH escape and run away, having procured one of the Horcruxes (the locket) from Umbridge. The chap who plays Rufus Scrimgeour does it well. (He appears earlier on when he comes to the Burrow to give HRH stuff they inherited from Dumbledore as left in his will).

Now the rift between Ron and Harry builds up. Ron's impatience in finding the remaining Horcruxes, his frustration at being the Chosen One's sidekick, and his suspicions regarding Harry's feelings for Hermoine take a toll on him and he leaves. Shaken, Harry and Hermione then decide to visit Godric's Hollow to try and find the sword of Godric Gryffindor which might prove to be helpful in the destruction of the Horcruxes. The trip, however backfires as Death Eaters in the guise of Bathilda Bagshot along with the serpent Nagini ambush them. The third LumpInTheThroat occurs here, when Harry sees for the first time in his life, his parents' graves. Harry and Hermione barely Dissaparate and escape and return to the jungles.



One night Harry is guided by a mysterious silver doe to a frozen pond in the middle of the jungle and there he sees the sword of Godric Gryffindor lying deep under water. He breaks through the ice and dives in, but the locket-Horcrux around his neck tries to strangle him. This is where Ron comes in again, and saves him and recovers the sword. It is him who destroys the Horcrux then and there. In the meanwhile Hermione gets some leads from the Tales of Beedle the Bard and identifies the recurrence of an enigmatic symbol. Harry remembers that Xenophilius Lovegood had worn a similar symbol at the wedding. So the three decide to go and visit the Lovegoods'. There, the eccentric old man then tells them the story of the Deathly Hallows ... the Elder Wand, the Ressurection Stone and the Cloak of Invisiblity and how three brothers of a certain folk tale went after each of them. This is followed by Xenophilius' attempt to sell off Harry to the Death Eaters in return for Luna who has been taken captive. HRH escape yet again.

The final battle happens in the underground vault in Malfoy Manor where the prisoners have been kept. The prisoners viz Luna, Ovillander and the Goblins (who were in charge of the Gringotts bank). HRH is joined by Dobby the House-elf who eventually saves them all from the Death Eaters in general and Bellatrix in particular, and sacrifices his own life instead (final and climactic LumpInTheThroat).

Parallel to this story, Voldemort goes on his quest to procure all the Deathly Hallows for himself. We are made aware of his movements and activities through his connection with Harry, in the form of visions and dreams. His first mission, to find the Elder Wand or the Death Stick takes him to the wand maker Gregorovitch whom he threatens for the information as to the wand's hereabouts. Gregorovitch tells him that Dumbledore had possessed it when he had died. The movie ends with Voldemort locating Dumbledore's grave, cracking open the coffin, procuring the Elder Wand and rejoicing.



Of course, in case you are wondering, the story's not over yet.

A few points :
  • HRH did pack a good selection of clothes! They keep changing from one set to another everyday. Not the pitiful state of nomadic existence that JKR had talked about.
  • Humour is scattered here and there. Mainly owing to Ron's facial expressions.
  • the mood is sombre throughout and strong undercurrents of dark forces play a big role.
  • the animated shadow-play depiction of the Tale of Three Brothers stole the show. I wish I had more thumbs to up.
  • unnecessary romance has been cut out. Good sign. The last two films had me retching and had given me nightmares about Edward Cullens with lightning scars on their foreheads.
  • the HRH camaraderie thrives, flourishes and inspite of the Ron-Harry rift, reaches its zenith. 
All in all, finally a movie that does justice to the novel. Maybe splitting it into two parts was the key. Who knows, HP 4, 5 and 6 might just have been better in two parts. The ending is incomplete as it is expected to be. And sad, (Dobby, sniff). The beginning of the end has drawn to a close. A cliff-hanger of an ending is expected. And only a cliff-hanger will whet the appetite of the millions of fans all across the world. Hope David Yates finishes it off in the same vein in which he's begun.

accio Summer 2011.
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