Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Re-reading and Re-watching: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

Hello there, I decided to break up the last book of the series into two parts, first reading Chapters 1 through 24, and stopping to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One.

I started this project of re-reading and re-watching the Harry Potter series several years as a full-fledged adult.  The release of the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows occurred in 2007.  Films, 7 and 8, were released November of 2010 and July of 2011, respectively. At the time of this post, that marks eight and a half years from the last time I read Book Seven.  Eight years ago, I was 25.  If you had told me what would have happened in those eight years, I would not have believed you.  Not one bit.

I will explain why below, but for these reasons the last book resonates with me as an adult so much more so than when I initially read it at age 25.  At least the first half, anyway.

Again, spoilers to follow.


Originally I wanted to re-read each of the Harry Potter books and watch each of the films to glean any additional information I could about the other house, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, specifically.  If you are a middle level nerd like I am, you would have heard about the reveal of the beta phase of the then, newly created Pottermore site, from your Alpha-level, mega obsessed about all things Harry Potter, best friend back in 2012. 

If you were lucky enough to be allowed in on the beta phase, then you would be sorted into one of the four houses after taking a multiple choice test.  Keep in mind, I was about to turn 30 that year, and my dorky-ass self was sorted into Ravenclaw, my above mentioned best friend into Hufflepuff.  Both of us were disappointed we were not in Gryffindor.

I’ve since gotten over it and am now proud to be in Ravenclaw.  Me, a tax paying adult with a mortgage, who can schedule their own doctors appointments, like a big girl.  I decided to re-read all the books to find details on House Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff that I might have missed on my first go around.  Turns out, I didn’t really miss shit because Rowling herself just doesn’t write much about the other houses, period.  She makes the Ravenclaws out to sound like weirdos, Hufflepuffs as sad sacks and Slytherins as members of Hitler's Youth. 

What I didn’t anticipate was how the later books, Books Six and Seven, would resonate to me much more as an adult than they ever could, when I first read them at age 25.  In those eight years since I first read Book 7, I lost my dad, unexpectedly, a month after I turned 27, witnessed in fear as other family member battled with their health and learned that my same best friend was diagnosed with cancer. 

Shit happens. 

Bad things happen to good people, and keep happening and keep happening.

It’s hard to swallow this and keep pushing forward.  The biggest grace you can hope to attain is to know when things are beyond your control and what forces you do have the capacity to control. Nowhere else in the series is this very sense of loss and acceptance more personified than in this first half of the last book.  I say first half because the last half features in my opinion such a bull-shit, Mickey Mouse, happy ending that completed destroys the subtle, nuanced heart-breaking depiction of adult life that the first book so delicately weaves, but more on that later.

Our intrepid trio of heroes spend much of the first half of the book spinning their wheels in no direction.  Agonizing with the wish to control that which they cannot, the immediate destruction of the four remaining Horcruxes.  Harry suffers loss after loss, his parents, Sirius, Dumbledore, and now Dobby, Mad-Eye Moody and Hedwig, that to simply survive and carry on seems a most monumental task.  Forget defeating the Dark Lord, simply getting out of bed each day is a horrible struggle.

To take on a task in which they have no real plan, were not given clear instructions and do not have the requisite knowledge seems impossible to accomplish.  Harry, Ron and Hermione must live day to day, isolated from the others, and not knowing whether they are doing the right thing and what they are supposed to be doing at all.

This is what it means to be an adult.

There is no manual, no instruction book and what’s worse is that no one can tell you with 100% certainty, what you should be doing.  No one knows.

I know many young women like to blog to keep a positive space, one they can control and motive themselves.  That is to be applauded but too often it seems that they get wrapped up in their own illusion.  Everyone lives a separate life from their Instagram life, or Facebook life.  No one has a life full of beautiful clothes, inspiring trips, delectable meals and adoring boyfriends.  Even if they did, they probably also have crippling confidence issues, family members suffering with declining health and possibly even paralyzing amounts debt.  Bloggers need to be able to lift the veil sometimes and let their fans know, they are not alone, and everyone struggles in some form or fashion.

The first half of Book Seven shows Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s struggle to accept what they cannot control and to act on the forces that they can control.  This was my father’s favorite prayer;

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

Horrible, sad, scary, unfair things happen, it’s part of life, but real courage comes from knowing when to move on, to come back twice as strong, to finish what you have started, despite the anger, the pain, the fear and the guilt.  This is only something I finally learned within the eight years following the first time I read this book.


When the 7th film came out, I remember thinking this was the best film of the entire series.  It’s quite odd to re-watch all the films within weeks of each other, rather than to wait years in-between while watching the movies for the first time.

I can honestly say, I still believe the Film Seven to be the best of the series.

Again screenwriter Steven Kloves sticks closely to the book plot, wisely condensing and cutting scenes and characters when it makes sense.  We do not see Tonks’ parents, the return of Viktor Krum nor Dean Thomas.  Lupin does not reveal Tonks pregnancy nor is told off by Harry when he wishes to leave his unborn child.   We do not see Wormtail’s final end in Part One, though it may be included in Part Two. 

Really the only omission that I wish would the filmmaker would have kept was Kreacher’s heart-breaking backstory concerning the death of his master, Regulus Black’s death and Harry’s selfless act of giving Kreacher Black’s locket to keep for his very own.  It’s such a poignant and tender moment in the book, showing how truly Harry is the hero, not for being the Chosen One but by his treatment of those that everyone considers beneath them.

It sets up Dobby’s later sacrifice more subtly, rather than the film’s choice to reintroduce Dobby earlier in the film at Grimmauld Place, assisting Kreacher with the capture of Mundungus which has all the subtlety of a blunt blow to the face.  My middle sister who has not read the books picked up on this immediately, whispering to me in the theatre, “I bet he’s going to die”.

Part One is just as grim-dark, fast paced and with higher stakes as any of the Christopher Nolan Batman films.  Our trio is in constant danger, the Godric Hollow scene with the snake coming close to be being just as scary as the scene with Harry and Dumbledore surrounded by the zombie-like, Inferi infested lake in the last movie. 

It’s not without its equally amazing light hearted moments as well, such the Seven Harrys scene, George sneaking into the kitchen to catch Harry and Ginny kissing, and Harry’s attempt to cheer up Hermione.

Since the last films all three leads have reached the same talented level of acting and I cannot commend them all enough.  Rupert’s Ron is still my favorite though, he NEVER overacts and sells each of Ron’s ranging emotions so absolutely convincingly.  Perusing the IMDB page, I never knew that Rupert Grint used his earnings from the Harry Potter franchise to buy his own ice cream truck to provide free ice cream to the neighborhood kids and also to the crew and cast at the final Harry Potter wrap party.  

I love this kid.....look at that face!  He can nail any emotion.
My favorite shots include Voldemort’s first victim in the film, Charity Burbage as she is killed and looks Draco Malfoy in the eye,  a tear gently trickling down her right cheek.  Tom Felton’s Draco is also perfection, aptly conveying Draco reluctance, fear and hesitation throughout the film.  Simply from his reactions the audience knows Draco is not evil.

I love how claustrophobic the long hallway is in 12 Grimmauld Place, symbolically nearly swallowing the three leads in utter darkness.

And of course the beautiful symmetry in the below shot, straight from the pages of the book, of Ron and Hermione nearly holding hands, as if they fell sleep that way, their hands gently breaking apart during their slumber.

The shots from the Magic of Ministry, especially the overhead shot during Mrs. Cattermole’s trial, showing the dementors being kept at bay is  hauntingly striking, as well as the composition in the shot showing Hermione's blood covered hands as she set up the enchanted barriers after their close escape from the Ministry.

The camping sequences also provide no shortage of breath-taking exteriors as well as the graveyard scene in Godric’s Hollow.

Lastly, the animated Deathly Hallows sequence cements this film as my favorite of the entire series, so far.

Next up, the last few chapters of the last book and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two.  The end is near!


Post a Comment