Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Spoilers ahead. Don't read any further if you haven't watched the movie (and preferably also read the book).  Also, this is not a movie where I sap on about how much I'm going to miss Harry Potter.  You can find THAT post here.

About a decade ago, I got into Harry Potter. And I remember going to that first movie (which also came out about a decade ago) thinking, "What will it be like when the seventh movie is over? The kids will be all grown up." Yes, the kids are all grown up. And there were actually eight movies.

I'm glad there were eight movies. They took their time adapting the last book. I'm not sure they could have done an adequate job of telling the story in one movie. Well, maybe. But I like what they did. Plus, it dragged Harry Potter out a little longer. And's over.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. I loved it. I loved the Gringotts scene--of course with the Dragon! I'd been looking forward to seeing the Dragon escape the bank since the book came out. There are some things that are awesome in print, but seeing it on screen is a whole new experience.

I also loved loved loved the Hogwarts battle scenes--especially getting to see McGonagall take on Snape and Molly Weasley take on Bellatrix (even if Bellatrix's death was a little hokey and CGI'd). The only time the battle scenes got tedious were near the end--after Harry had already gone to meet Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, "died," and come back to life. To me, that was kind of the big major climax. Yes, Voldemort actually dying was also a big major climax, but it wasn't as important as Harry's sacrificial acts, of his meeting and speaking with Dumbledore at "King's Cross."

In fact, I think the whole "death of Voldemort" thing was really overplayed. Sometimes books don't transfer well into movies and need a little help. Sure, okay. Nothing wrong with spicing things up a little visually. But they took it too far. I'm sure the filmmakers were going for more drama, more suspense. They took it past the dramatic and suspenseful and made it just plain boring. I was having to bite my tongue to keep from screaming, "OH JUST SHOW NEVILLE SLICING OFF NAGINI'S HEAD ALREADY SO WE CAN GET ON WITH THIS!" Because, honestly, watching Neville slice off Nagini's head was one of the things I was most looking forward to seeing.  I heart Neville so much.

But, no no, there was this big, long, drawn-out battle between Harry and Voldemort where the latter chased the former through Hogwarts for no apparent reason. It was boring. I was ready for Voldemort to just die, since we all knew that was coming. And when Voldemort did die, I was a little underwhelmed. I don't like comparing books and movies too much, but in this case, I really think the filmmakers missed something important. In the book, Voldemort didn't crumble into pixie dust or whatever that was that he did in the film. No. Harry's signature defensive "Expelliarmus" spell caused Voldemort's killing curse to rebound, and he just kind of fell down dead. Anticlimactically. He just died. No fanfare. No big dramatic death scene.

I really liked the fact that in the book, Voldemort, the greatest dark wizard ever, who went to great, tremendously evil lengths to preserve his own life, died a ridiculously simple, lackluster death. And I guess the filmmakers thought it too simple, so they spiced it up with some more silly fake CGI. But that wasn't too big of a deal--just something that irked me slightly.

I'm also slightly irked by the "King's Cross" scene. For one thing, the whole backstory on Dumbledore was not revealed. Anyone who hasn't read the books still doesn't know a thing about Ariana other than some vague idea from Aberforth that Albus gave her "everything except his time." It reminded me slightly of the film "Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban" where they left out a lot of important background information about the Marauder's Map and Harry's dad, Sirius, Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew. And I'm not sure if the filmmakers just didn't see Dumbledore's family history as being pertinent information to the story they wanted to convey, or if they didn't think there was time for it, or if perhaps they wanted the movie-going audience to still see Dumbledore as a bright shiny character without any personal demons. Maybe it was a combination of all those things.

But what really bothers me more than it probably should was something movie Dumbledore said in "King's Cross" that wasn't in the book at all. Something like (definitely paraphrasing here--only saw the movie once): "I once said that help would always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it. I'd like to amend that. Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who deserve it."

Dumbledore didn't say that in the book. I'm pretty sure the Dumbledore of the book WOULD NOT EVER say that. I don't know exactly what the filmmakers were trying to convey by that. I think it was perhaps a halfhearted attempt to show that Voldemort didn't deserve help or that Snape really did deserve help...or something (I really need to see the film again and hear the line in its proper context). But see, one of the major themes near the end of the book (and probably running through all the books) was that there might still be some hope for Voldemort if he showed a little remorse.

Rowling revealed that there are intentional Christian themes in Harry Potter, especially in the seventh book.  I don't want to go too deep into something she might not have meant to be this deep, but being the Christian reader/writer that I am, I can't help but wonder.  Metaphorically, is that idea of remorse akin or even figuratively equal to salvation?  I don't know how far Rowling wanted to carry that out.

But it doesn't really matter how deep she meant that idea to go.  The fact remains, she did seem to want to communicate that Voldemort was not beyond help and hope if he would simply show remorse.  And the Dumbledore of the books was always ready to see the best in others--and to offer second chances.  He HAD a personal history that was less than perfect.  He knew first hand that HE didn't deserve help.  He was ready to offer help to others whether they deserved it or not.  And that's probably why he was able to see that there was hope for Voldemort...if Voldemort was willing to let go of his pride and confidence in himself...and ask for help.

And it bugs me that the filmmakers completely missed that.  They fudged it over.  Maybe it's because I want to see Christian themes (dragging them out kicking and screaming), or maybe they really are there in the book, or maybe it's a little of both.  But the fact is, redemption and salvation don't depend on how much someone deserves it.  No one deserves it.  But if we ask for it, it's given.  Ask, and it shall be given.  Seek, and you shall find.  Knock, and the door will be opened unto you.  So no.  Dumbledore would not have said anything about help being given to those who deserve it. 

But that's the biggest issue I have with an otherwise wonderful movie.  I shed lots of tears--starting with Snape's death (everything about Snape in this movie was stinking amazing) and pretty much not ending until I got bored watching Voldemort chase Harry through Hogwarts.  Some things could have been done in a less cheesy manner (Ron and Hermione's kiss just made me giggle in a not good way).  The epilogue was cute and touching, but I was underwhelmed with the "aging makeup/CGI," (sidenote--the makeup/CGI anti-aging on Snape was fantastic!) but it was a good way to end a great series--just looking into the faces of Ron, Hermione, and Harry Potter.

Even without the bad aging CGI, those kids really have grown up.

No comments:

Post a Comment