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Saturday, July 16, 2011


Release date in India:
July 15, 2011
David Yates
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Maggie Smith, Helena Bonham-Carter, Julie Walters, Tom Felton, Jason Issacs, Michael Gambon

I guess it can safely be said that the world right now is divided into two types of people: those who’ve read the Harry Potter books and those who’ve not. And right now, my world, my friends and my social circle are divided into two sets of people: those who’ve already seen Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 and those who’ve not. If you’ve not read the seven books, do get a quick prĂ©cis of the story so far from an earnest friend or a reliable website before you enter a movie hall for the grand celluloid finale. And even if you are a total Potter nut who (like me) has read all seven books twice over and seen the seven films that have preceded Deathly Hallows 2, may I suggest a quick revision?
We left Harry, his friends Hermione and Ron in The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 with the knowledge that three of the seven Horcruxes – vessels for the evil Lord Voldemort’s shredded soul – had been destroyed, and that there were four to come. The Deathly Hallows 2 begins with the trio in their quest for the fourth Horcrux in Gringotts bank. Beyond this, I’m not giving you much of the story because this review would get too long if I tried. Let’s just say that the final film remains faithful to J.K. Rowling’s book and though it compresses so much of what we read to fit its 126 minutes running time, director David Yates has still done a good job of wrapping it all up for us Pottermaniacs.
As you know, the last book of the series has been split into two films, one of which we saw late last year. Does the final film match up to the concluding chapters of the final book? No it does not. That’s not entirely Yates’ fault though, it’s largely a factor of the medium in which he’s working. No one could have possibly translated 100% on to film, the richness of Rowling’s imagination, the depth of the visual imagery she conjures up through her words or the intricate detailing in every tiny element in the books, right from the origins of the names she’s given her characters to the mythological creatures she’s resurrected for her tales. But despite the constraints intrinsic to the film medium, Yates has done a fine job.
The director has wisely assumed that everyone watching Deathly Hallows 2 knows what’s gone before. Imagine how long this film would have been if he had tried to explain Albus Dumbledore’s relationship with his brother, their befuddled sister, Luna Lovegood’s eccentric nature, Neville Longbottom’s particular reason for hating Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange, Platform Nine and Three-Quarters or Harry’s son’s fear of being assigned to Slytherin House. You’ll find it all in Hallows 2 without any idiot-proofing. And one of my favourite moments in this film, as it is in the entire book series, is when Harry kneels down on that curiously named station platform to whisper to his son: “Albus Severus, you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”
The acting honours in this film, as in the entire series, must go to the wonderful Mr Alan Rickman who has done a superb job of playing the seemingly cruel Professor Severus Snape with pasty-faced stoicism, aided by a gifted make-up artist. On the downside, I think the make-up team should have done a better job of Harry, Ron and Hermione 19 years after Hogwarts (good work on Ginny though). What I also missed in this film is the crackling chemistry between Rupert Grint (Ron), Emma Watson (Hermione) and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) that peaked in that one nude vision of Harry and Hermione that Ron had in Deathly Hallows 1. Perhaps I was expecting too much. After all, this story is primarily about Harry, Snape and Voldemort, the three lonely boys whose widely differing choices shaped their very different destinies. But I must confess that the 3D did not add much to the spectacle for me, and while the ultimate battle between Voldemort’s army and Harry’s forces is a visual marvel, it’s still not everything I had imagined it to be. No doubt the special effects are excellent and the production design admirably re-creates the atmospheric settings … but the end result was a lot of people running helter skelter and what seemed like fireworks flashing repeatedly during soulless crowd scenes that drew no emotion from me, thrown in between the more crucial and certainly better executed fights between the main players.
The most poignant part of this film is when Harry dips into Snape’s memory and discovers the truth behind the teacher’s motivations for all his actions from Books1-7. Equally well explained is the confusion over Voldemort’s wand and why it was not answering to him – kudos to Yates for his effective handling of perhaps the trickiest part of the book series. Ron’s mother Molly (Julie Walters) makes the briefest of appearances in this film but oh how I loved that moment when she turns on Bellatrix and yells: “Not my daughter, you bitch!”
The likeable lead trio have matured remarkably sweetly through the years that we’ve seen them grow up before our eyes, and the supporting cast remains intimidatingly talented … Let me curtail my urge to go on and on, and conclude by telling you that Bellatrix’s death is every bit as satisfactory as I had hoped it would be; those moments when Harry enters a gradually weakening Voldemort’s mind are as disturbing as I’d imagined; Voldemort’s snake Nagini is both spectacular and terrifying to behold; and although I’ve read and re-read this line in the book, I still couldn’t help but smile when Dumbledore tells Harry towards the end: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” C’mon Ms Rowling, you can’t be serious about ending it now! How about a prequel or any-other-kind-of-quel please?
Rating (out of five): ***1/2

Release date in the US:
July 15, 2011
MPAA Rating (US):
PG-13 (for some sequences of intense action violence and frightening images)
CBFC Rating (India):
U/A without cuts
Running time:
126 minutes

Photograph courtesy: (wikipedia)

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