“Not my daughter, you bitch!” – on fleeting (but satisfying) endings in “Deathly Hallows 2”
It’s hard to believe that we’ve spent over a decade obsessing over Harry Potter; I still remember the day I went to buy the first book because our teacher was reading it too slowly to us in class. It was magical then, and as a college graduate now, it’s still magical. I thought I was going to burst, I was so excited on the way to the theatre; Orion will vouch that I wouldn’t stop talking on the drive over.
There’s something to be said about endings. As an author or director, once you’ve built a magnificent empire of a series, how do you go about ending it? I remember being terribly disappointed with Star Wars Episode 3’s ending – sure, it set in place all the motions needed for Episodes 4, 5, and 6, but it was just so blah. The same can be said for Stephen King’s Dark Tower series – it was such a massive piece that the only ending he could make was one that (semi spoiler) was in fact no ending at all.
Luckily, this is not the case for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” – the theatre was completely packed, even though we were at a Friday 2PM viewing, and we arrived over an hour early in order to get seats. (When we left, the lines for the next show trailed down the hallway and wrapped around the corner, out of view.) The movie began where “Part 1” left off – with Voldemort arriving at Dumbledore’s grave, and Harry in front of Dobby’s.
From there, the movie proceeds at what feels like lightspeed – not a moment is wasted before the audience is plunged into a whirlwind of activity: Harry, Ron, and Hermione rush to Gringotts and escape and then rush to Hogwarts and then rush all around everywhere. Maybe it was because the seventh book was split into two parts, but it really felt like everything in this movie took place really fast. “Part 1” dragged on for months (movie-time), whereas “Part 2” took up approximately a day and a night’s worth of events.
Many times, it felt like the filmmakers did a perfect job with emotional, gut-wrenching scenes: when Harry walks amongst the wounded, or when Professor McGonagall summons the warrior statues of Hogwarts, or when Neville finally gets his moment to have his word. Other times, as is to be expected, there is much that is not dwelt upon – not much detail is given to Dumbledore’s past, and wand lore is a little sketchy too. Furthermore, it was strange to see so many locations of the castle mapped out – reading the books, Hogwarts always felt like this massive behemoth of a building and it’s weird to see the moviemaker’s vision superimposed on one’s own.
Regardless of all that, the movie is a satisfying finish to a long series. It has been wonderful getting to see all the actors and actresses grow up over time, as well as getting to see each other grow up but still be in love with a series technically from our childhoods. Harry Potter has been such a huge phenomena, and it was wonderful to see this final, if fleeting, installment. (The epilogue was a little weird and short, and the actors definitely didn’t look 19 years older, but whatever.)
Overall, 4.5/5 – it wasn’t perfect, but certainly managed to escape being disappointing, which is a lot to say based on the high expectations and demands of the Harry Potter fan world. I’ll call it a must-see, but I suspect many of you have been planning on seeing it since the movies first started. Good bye, Harry Potter and friends, though I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of you!
See also: Orion’s Review (4/5)