Monday, July 18, 2011

Love: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

Muggles, mudbloods, and wizards-full, the end has arrived, and while I had waited to see this final battle for what must literally be a full decade, right now I would rather live in denial.  Truthfully, I would rather not write this, for it's tainted by some bittersweet note.  Those chapters upon chapters of Harry Potter's saga have ended.  We have reached the final word, the final scene, the close of his tale.  We do not want to see it reopened, though we have grown up, in a way, with Harry, Hermione, and Ron.  Now we must part ways.  It is difficult, but we have always known this day would come.
 My generation (and the one following it) has been lucky, for in place of Star Wars (or in addition to it) we have had cinematic battles of our own repeated double and triple fold.  We have known magic, and yes, that may sound treacly, but we cannot deny it.  I apologize, but I cannot speak objectively on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II.  When something has been a welcome part of your life for nearly half of your existence, judgment starts to get a little cloudy. 
In this final chapter, we emerge from the forests, disapparate from the moors, and face our destiny.  Since he was  11, Harry has lived knowing his life was part of prophecy.  Though he has had control, to some extent, as to how he will arrive at this moment, he has always known that he would not escape it.  Harry must face Voldemort.  Voldemort must die.  Harry must make sacrifices.  There's no point running through the plot.  The numbers don't lie.  If you've had any interest in J.K. Rowling's stories, you know how this ends.  The film is a satisfying conclusion that picks up precisely where its first half left off.
 Director David Yates, who has honed his skills in years V-VII, masterfully abridges the novel to gift us with something that crackles with energy.  Its hours feel like mere minutes and we are allowed to revisit our departed friends, to take last looks at those we didn't realize we'd missed and glance back fondly at their humble origins.  Though things go quickly, they rarely feel rushed.  Yates does as he has with his other films: he allows us to stay awhile in this world.  He appreciates the scenery, relishes the sets.  We appreciate it too.  It's a last walk around the campus, a homecoming in squalor.  If he wanted to, he could take longer, find an excuse to visit the Gryffindor common room, a way to fit in Hagrid's hut.  No one would complain.  
Deathly Hallows: Part II is a dark dream, a coming-of-age that's violent and unyielding for the characters involved, but dazzlingly beautiful for us.  Yates has presented it as a contradiction, and somehow this feels right.  There are flaws, yes.  Little differences between book and film, little places where those not enamored may observe problems with pacing or wish were presented differently.  Mostly, though, Yates captures the pandemonium with a slow motion romanticism, a vision somewhere between our own perspective and Harry's. We want to spend time in this world, and Harry wants to prolong his stay.  Harry walks towards his sacrifices.  He quests like a knight errant.  Hogwarts is destroyed.  People die.  Countless people.  Child soldiers.  Yet, these things do not register.  We cannot see the destruction as folly because we're too closely aligned with Harry's point of view.  This is what must be done and, though Harry fights, in truth he resigned himself long ago.
All of this is part of something that must happen.  It's lead in.  It's how we know our time has come and we savor feeling anything because we can't stop to self-doubt.  We can self-doubt and look back in the afterlife but now We destroy, we sacrifice, we do whatever it takes to get to the end.  We must pity the living in part because they are the ones effected by the death that we cannot understand because right now, we are so close to it.   The film understands this gravity. It rolls its dialogue around in its mouth and only speaks when it feels the time has come.  It shows us what we want to see, and gifts us all with victory.

For more cohesive thoughts on the series, see my earlier reviews on Deathly Hallows: Part I and Half-Blood Prince. Much would likely be repeated...

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