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Rewind Reviews - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

by Andrew Siddall. Published Thu 28 May 2020 19:53
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1

The stories of the boy wizard by JK Rowling inspired the imagination of a generation. But the journey couldn’t go on forever and the series came to its dramatic conclusion in a two-part finale. In this Rewind Review we take a look at the beginning of the end, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1.

The first half of the adaptation sees Harry, Ron and Hermione out of Hogwarts and on the run, as they attempt to find and destroy Horcruxes: objects that contain fragments of Lord Voldemort’s soul. But on their quest their friendship and loyalty is tested like never before as a dark force threatens to tear them apart.

Returning yet again as the now 17-year-old Harry is Daniel Radcliffe (Horns). Still reeling from the death of Professor Dumbledore, Harry is more determined than ever to put an end to Voldemort, and that really shines through with Radcliffe’s performance. This movie really shows off Radcliffe’s adaptability as an actor too, with him having to impersonate six of his co-stars in a very impressive sequence.

Also returning is Rupert Grint (Instruments of Darkness) as Ron Weasley, who takes a far darker turn in this film than previously seen. The comedic nature the film version of Ron has is stripped back as dark forces drive a wedge between Ron and his friends, and even threatens the evolving romance between him and Hermione. Rupert is fantastic in this film and does a great job once again.

Rounding out the trio again is Emma Watson (The Bling Ring) as Hermione Granger. Hermione has moved out of being the jealous and love-sick character in Half-Blood Prince, and is back as one of the most valuable players. She really gets to show off another side as well as we see her taking drastic steps to protect her family, which Emma Watson captures perfectly.

Deathly Hallows also makes good use of the characters that have been a part of the series since day one, with almost every character making a reappearance. We don’t get to see a lot from them in the first part, but it’s good to see them all again.

Since his first appearance in Goblet of Fire, Ralph Fiennes (Spectre) has truly made the role of Lord Voldemort his own. Softly spoken and yet vicious when provoked, this is the movie where he genuinely feels like a threat to everyone, and not just a ghostly figure who haunts Harry.

Voldemort’s reach is also aided by his followers, who seem to be everywhere. Their presence really helps to showcase the main trio’s isolation and prove that nowhere is safe.

The story forces the trio to go on the run with no place to turn and no clear path. It’s a drastic departure from the structure established throughout the series and it works really well, showing how much they have changed.

Obviously this isn’t a complete story, so it won’t feel as satisfying, but that’s part of its strength. The decision to divide the story into two parts allows more time to develop the characters and ideas. The first part adapts the first two thirds of the book and ends on just the right moment without the cliff-hanger feeling too jarring like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.

The pacing is slow and takes its time to explain things. This may be a little dull for some viewers, but it’s essential to the plot and needs to be there as Harry struggles to uncover each of the Horcruxes. And with so much content in the final book, this is one of the rare (and first) occasions where splitting the film was a good idea, and not purely based on money.

The Deathly Hallows also continues the tradition of getting darker and more mature with Harry and his friends now grown up. The story is more complicated and deeper, and features some properly shocking scenes that will be far too much for younger viewers.

With Deathly Hallows being the culmination of everything that’s come before, we get to revisit many familiar faces and places from Harry’s past, but this can cause a slight problem. The previous three movies were trimmed down into singular films, which meant certain plot points were changed or removed. Unfortunately, this has impacted this movie.

Deathly Hallows is a direct adaptation of the book, but it does forget its own continuity at times, with Harry now in possession of a mirror shard, gifted to him by Sirius, which just appears with no explanation, plus Dobby the Elf’s appearance is odd when he mentions it’s good to see Ron again.

These moments are small, but for avid viewers with little or no knowledge of the books, these moments won’t make sense.

Having said that, these moments do not take away from how emotional this movie is. This really does feel like the beginning of the end with the stakes higher than ever and the body count increasing. Having been with these characters for almost a decade at this point, we really are connected to them in a way we can’t in other movie franchises.

Even though it’s a slower and quieter film, it doesn’t skip out on the action. Most of which involve a lot of running. The action is handled really well keeps the tension high. The only poorly handled scene is a chase through the forest, which is very hard to watch as the camera keeps jumping around and cutting rapidly, making it hard to make out what’s happening.

Visually, this is a very different film, with Harry, Ron and Hermione travelling around the UK countryside and revisiting old locations. It keeps things interesting as they rarely visit the same place twice which makes each sequence stand out individually, such as the Ministry of Magic and Godric’s Hollow.

The effects in this film are also great, especially bringing characters to life such as Dobby, Kreacher and Nagini. Some of the flashier fights do have the potential to become a bit repetitive, but the spellcasting is mixed up as much as possible to keep it visually interesting.

These are films that have benefitted greatly from the evolving technology available, and allowed us to become more invested in the wizarding world in a believable way.

Taking over from composer Nicholas Hooper is Oscar winner Alexandre Desplat (The Shape of Water). The music for this film is genuinely powerful and features some incredible tracks. It still contains a few glimmers from the past, but doesn’t sound like anything from Harry Potter. It is a phenomenal soundtrack and Desplat proves himself to be the best choice for the film.

As said before, this is only the first half of the story, but it does a great job of explaining everything we need to know. This allows us to jump straight into the action in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.

Overall, this is a slower and more complicated movie for J.K. Rowling’s Boy Wizard. The characters are developed deeper than before and the story begins to wrap up nicely with some great sequences and a brilliant score. This is essential viewing for fans and those wanting to see how Harry’s journey unfolds.

Purple Revolver rating: 4/5. A slow but gripping start.


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