Deathly Hallows – Part 1

Linger over these final days with the boy wizard

I have a lightning bolt scar above my right eyebrow.

I got it fighting a middle-aged woman at an Indianapolis Barnes and Noble. It was the night that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released and we fought over the last copy of the book. (Of course, this was years before this same woman would surely abandon Harry — and, emotionally, her family — for a burgeoning, obsessive love of a certain sparkly vampire.)

We both wanted it. She pulled on the book. I pulled on the book. She pulled a knife. I …

Yeah, this didn’t happen.

While I did get the scar the same night as the book’s release, it actually resulted after I passed out. At an Indianapolis Fever game. In the bathroom. (That’s a story for another time.) And to be totally truthful, it’s not in the shape of a lightning bolt. It’s more an angry comma.

For some … okay, most … both of these scenarios would be equally embarrassing. Yet I believe the fabricated story is superior, as it gives me some Potter street cred. It makes me a truer Potter-ite. A more die-hard Pot-head.

I’ve read all seven books several times and question friendships with those who have not. I can explain the rules for Quidditch far better than many actual sports. I have even attended every midnight screening of the movies (occasionally bespectacled with Harry spectacles).

So I am pleased to report that the latest movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, is thoroughly successful. It is the most adult, most faithful, and most focused of all the cinematic adaptations.

[SIGNUP]It has been six years since Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) found out he was a wizard. He has seen joy. He has seen tremendous loss: his parents, his stepfather, a rival and friend, and his mentor. And now that the evil Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has again ascended to power, Harry realizes that he — supported by his best mates Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) — is the only one who can help. Tasked to destroy the seemingly immortal Voldemort, Harry sets out to destroy the talismans, or horcruxes, that hold part of Voldemort’s soul. Without the secure walls of Hogwarts or the assistance of parents or teachers, the three begin their search. Alone.

Instead of cramming the behemoth novel (750+ pages) into one movie, the studio decided to release it as two separate movies: Part 1 and Part 2. While many see this as an obvious moneymaking scheme — which of course it is — I applaud this decision. It enables the filmmakers to be faithful to J.K. Rowling’s vision. Unlike its predecessors, Deathly Hallows does not feel like a CliffsNotes version of the book. We get to linger with little character mannerisms and plot points that imbued Rowling’s books — things that would easily be first on the cutting room floor.

A perfect example is the extended “camping” scenes. Without the necessity of rushing from plot point to plot point, we get to spend time with characters we love. In one particular moment, Harry tries to cheer up Hermione soon after Ron’s departure. After accepting Harry’s request, they begin to dance. For a few, gleeful moments they are able to forget the outside world, become teenagers again, and simply enjoy themselves. But as the scene continues, the smiles leave their faces. The loneliness and the stress return. They are left hugging. And quiet. It is a beautiful scene, simply and wholly portrayed by Radcliffe and Watson.

These sad and lonely moments make Deathly Hallows the most adult of all of the films. Yes there are many wonderful scenes and spectacular special effects to satiate younger viewers. (It is simply staggering to see the development of technology since Dobby’s first appearance in Chamber of Secrets.) But parents, be warned: Many moments might be a too intense for little ones.

We say goodbye to several, well-loved characters. And at the end, we prepare ourselves for the final goodbye in Part 2 (scheduled to be released July 15, 2011).

I won’t say anymore. Once you see it, let me know what you thought.

And sometime, maybe, I’ll tell you about how I got my owl. (In theaters.)

My Grade: B+