My long held pet peeve that the Harry Potter movies were being too crunched for time, causing favourite moments to be truncated or exorcised completely. While they got better with handling and translating the material as the films progressed, the natural story, characters, and flow of the Harry Potter universe is much better suited to this dual movie treatment. Still holding out for a perfect world where it all would have been a television series. But back to our shared reality. And for the sake of clarity and time, I shall be taking them on as a whole unit here.
With the freedom of movement inherent in these two films, we get the truest journey of Harry yet. Starting at the beginning, with Harry departing the Dursleys, and seeing his heartbreak over the first home he has ever remembered. Moving onto the escape plan, followed by J.K. pummeling us with a terrifying battle with deadly consequences, we see the true cost of this war. Beloved friends die. Injuries befall the innocent. Distrust infiltrates ranks. Healing occurs from the impending wedding at The Burrow. Love heals hurt. The bliss is short lived, as Voldemort finally wins and the Hogwarts Three embark on a life on the run.
All the plot set-up in the first part makes way for the emotional core of this second part. Harry and Hermione and Ron have issue and thoughts that demand to be sorted, dealt with, and expelled. And this is the wise place that J.K. has constructed to facilitate this. Stresses and emotions are pushed and tested, starting at Sirius’s place and continuing unabated when they are wandering endlessly in the woods. Fractures wedged to the surface by Voldemort split them up in a scene so harrowing it feels like a limb has been unceremoniously shedded. The anger caused by Ron is temporarily alleviated by a jig Harry initiates with Hermione, showing that the magic of dance can bring laughter back. Even if only for a moment. These friends have had their quarrels and petty disputes, but this time of disarray will eventually strengthen them. As Dumbledore knew they would.
Side trips for the locket, with a half crazed, half horrific, look inside the Ministry of Magic make up one action set piece here, while an abduction to dark and gloomy Malfoy Manor brackets as another action segment. The cuteness of Dobby meeting kindred spirit Luna is inspired, but this oasis of perfection is interrupted by Hermione’s torture. We never saw what was done to her in the book. But here we see the filthy racial word sliced into her flesh forever. I cringe, and still do to this day, at that evil.
And now we enter the much anticipated breaking point for this first part. I steered myself free and clear of any hints or clues of what dramatic event would provide the emotional impact for this ending. But with the escape from Malfoy Manor, I guessed the death of Dobby being the moment. All the pain and hurt this caused in the book fills these scenes. Dobby dies in Harry’s arms. A friend who saved a friend. And vice versa. The littlest casualty of this war has been exacted. We feel for Harry. This never should have happened.
The next part of Deathly Hallows picks up with Dobby being mourned. And rightfully so. It would have been nice if the full funeral showcased in the book was utilized here, to properly pay tribute to Dobby, but for some reason this was not done. We next see the Gringotts affair, which never caught my attention, but was adequately addressed here. The real meat of this movie is the infamous The Battle Of Hogwarts, beautifully written and choreographed in the book, and brought to terrifying life on the screen. Neville shows his mettle, fulfilling the promise I saw in him right from Philosopher’s Stone. Neville really would have done it in four books. With smelling hearts we see the DA and the Order uniting behind Harry in a truly inspirational show of support. Harry earned their loyalty through friendship. Voldemort steals loyalty through fear. The differences are even more marked here. Another reason Harry will win in the end.
The emotional whammy from the Pensieve with Harry facing his mortality is immense. Having so much of his life turned sideways, with the realization of Snape’s true self, and the stunning surprise of Dumbledore’s duplicity, it is a wonder Harry holds it together. But thankfully he gets strength with the Resurrection Stone, providing us with a touching moment of love. Hands up all those who cried. I know I did.
After some last minute explanations, we have the beautiful speech by Neville to rally the troops and speak the truth. Invented by the movie to make up for the lack of previous fantastic Neville deeds being explored onscreen, this is the perfect spot to launch the final bone crunching battle. Calling Voldemort Tom all along this lopsided fight was a great way for Harry to put this erstwhile Lord in his place. He is nothing but a little boy with delusions of grandeur bullying his way through life. And Harry calls him on it. How much has changed since the ending of Goblet. Harry wins, as was preordained by the love he surrounds himself with. Tom dies because of the hate he enthralls himself with. Simple emotions provides the solution here. As it should be.
With the fadeout on the decimated bridge, we depart the Hogwarts Three in this timeline. Just like the wonderful book, the joys of this glimpse forward are so tangible. We see all is right and true and loving with Harry. A happy ending for all. Thank you J.K. It was a journey of love.
P.S. Harry Potter is copyright 2012 to J.K. Rowling.