Normally, the Bibliomantics have no love for the Harry Potter films. BUT: It is Esther Earl Day (or it was when I started writing this. Hooray Durkin time!). So I shall step out from behind the wall of snark and list a few things I LOVED about this movie:
1. The Prince’s Tale – holy fuck, Alan Rickman. When he’s holding Lily’s body to his chest and crying, I may have been silently weeping with him. He made my heart ache, a response these movies have never before caused. It wasn’t just an emotion I was projecting onto the actor (which is what I feel most people do when they say they enjoy these films), it was purely Rickman’s performance. It was painful, and for once these movies didn’t shy away from some actual emotion.
2. Neville Longbottom was allowed to be the Bad-Ass-Motherfucker he truly is. Even when he starts to monologue about how Harry is alive inside all of them, my cynical heart was pure mush. It seems they actually tried to follow book Neville’s character development, and it made me more invested in the film. Now, why they couldn’t do it for the rest of the characters is a mystery.
3. The brief but hilarious Hermione-as-Bellatrix scene.
There – admitting my love for any part of the movies wasn’t so hard. Generally, I don’t actively despise the movies. I will watch them and feel some annoyance, but I try to take them at face value. This one was at least entertaining – the pacing was actually really good in that it kept the plot moving along briskly without giving you whiplash. The special effects were pretty awesome, and the film was shot beautifully. Daniel Radcliff evens ACTS, right when he pulls his head out of the pensieve. It’s astonishing, and I wish he had tried it more often. Overall…this film was kind of okay. Well, before the Battle of Hogwarts.
And now I have to lodge several legitimate complaints that I feel strike at the heart of the series:
McGonagall sends the SLYTHERINS TO THE DUNGEONS. What? You almost had me convinced that you read the books, and then you go ahead and have McGonagall send students to the dungeons? She is not freaking Umbridge; in fact, it’s proven time and again she is the opposite of that. No one even complained she was sending them all away – it was like she made an announcement over a loud speaker “The Battle of Hogwarts will commence in 15 minutes. All Slytherins, please report to the dungeons.” And then the kids shuffled away. I wasn’t aware such purely evil children would be so obedient. It would have take about 20 seconds longer to show the kids being told to make a decision – stay and fight or leave. To show they actually had the right and responsibility to choose. Decisions like this are lazy and actually bastardize the powerful messages of the books. We’re supposed to break down the barriers we build between ourselves and others, not build permanent walls and lock children in there.
In my last post, I talked about Movie Dobby Death Syndrome (MDDS). Instead of building characters, they bring them in right before they die, give ‘em a few heartfelt lines, and then kill them off. It’s a cheap trick, and I see it done all the time. Somehow, this film pulls the opposite of MDDS. Characters they have actually spent time on throughout the films are just killed off without any sort of closure. Mainly Fred. We see him and George right before the battle starts. Then, battle on! Then there is the lull, and we go to the Great Hall and Fred is freaking dead. Actually… I don’t even know if they say it’s Fred. I mean, I know it is him. But I don’t remember if they actually say it. The Weasleys are standing around a body, and people are crying. There is no final grin on his face as he fights Death Eaters, no way of reconciling the dead body with the action that caused it.
Voldemort became laughable at the end of the movie. There were certain faces where he looked like the old dude in the advertisements for Six Flags Great Adventure. He also had this ridiculous laugh that sounded like Goofy with a head cold.
Oh… and did I mention HE HUGS DRACO MALFOY? Who the fuck wrote this – *Draco crosses the courtyard to his parents. Voldemort, overwhelmed with pride that Draco has chosen the dark side, throws his arms around the boy* and thought it was a good idea? HE IS VOLDEMORT, the most evil bastard ever. You think he’s going to feel some sort of avuncular affection for Draco? He feels love for no one; that’s kind of the entire point of the series.
Finally – the battle between Harry and Voldy. The most important scene in the entire series. What it all boils down to – good versus evil, expelliarmus versus avada kedavra. And somehow they thought it was a good idea to completely change it. Harry and Voldy are dueling on a tower, and then Harry pulls him down (another awkward hug!). They turn into this weird black comet and claw at each other’s faces and there’s some weird morphing into each other and then they land in an empty courtyard and fight.
Yes – empty. As in, no one is around to see this happen. No one is there to see Harry conquer Voldemort, or to hear the words – the information and knowledge – that truly bring him down. It takes away so much power from the scene, because it makes it just about Harry. They fight, the curse rebounds. And then fucking Voldemort turns into paper. Little bits of paper that burn up and float away on the wind.
And that’s when I got mad. Voldemort is supposed to be a CORPSE. Because the POINT of the series is death in inevitable for all things, but we overcome this by loving people and passing on this love. The man who thought he could conquer death through destruction and hatred fails in the end, and hits “the floor with a mundane finality, his body feeble and shrunken, the white hands empty, the snakelike face vacant and unknowing.” After all, he was just a human. An awful monster of a human, but human just the same. With a body that is left behind, just like everyone else. There’s this intense physicality in the last chapter of the book, with a contrast between the corpse of Voldemort and the flesh of the Boy Who Lived. But this insanely powerful and important idea is lost when Voldemort turns to freaking bits of paper.
The Epilogue – I was too distracted by the god-awful aging effects to pay attention to anything else. Apparently, the top half of your head gets larger and misshapen when you get older. Also, where was all the mist?!
And then it was over. People talk about this film as if it is the end of Harry Potter. Firstly, if the end of something means the story has been completed, then it ended in 2007. But (and forgive me for pseudo-philosophy here) I think looking for a definitive end of anything is wasting time. Stories live on as we carry them throughout our lives, in the ways they change us and how we change other people. It’s only an end if you decide it is.
I love you all, now Rohan Gotobed!