Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Watching Harry Potter and his friends take on the enigmatic challenge of the Deathly Hallows Part One on Friday was exciting, rewarding and satisfying—like watching your old friends do good and do it well.

I confess I have never read any of the books. Instead, I have gone for the ride each time a movie has come out, and I have been totally blown away by the acting and by the special effects of these movies. In Deathly Hallows Part One, I was struck by how clearly the special effects work in the service of the story and the acting, not in place of either. I was als—again—struck by how beautifully the actors performed. Where the actors could not say what a text could, gesture and movement conveyed the depth of feeling and complexity of meaning that carried the theme of how human nature complicate what might otherwise be a clear and direct conversation between good and evil.

Harry Potter has been a part and parcel of my daughter and her two cousins’ childhoods for the past decade. He has helped them to become readers and thinkers as they have discussed the plot and the choices the characters have made and what the alternatives might have been. They have become critical thinkers and art critics as they have commiserated on the differences between the books and their respective movies and the pros and cons of these changes.

Harry Potter has done for these kids what great literature can do for all of us. At the same time it has tantalized and delighted our imaginations, it has suggested ways of looking at life that are new and different and powerful.

Looking back on the book-and-movie experience, my daughter said last night on the way home, “It’s not the same when you go back to the books now, knowing which characters die. It’s just hard knowing how everything will change when that character dies.” We had been discussing the demise of certain beloved characters in the movie. She said that seeing it happen was harder than reading abou tit.

In the end, though, good gets the last word—except that there is no end.

And the conversation goes on.

“So I guess Harry didn’t know all there was to know Dumbledore, huh, Dell—and it wasn’t all good?” I asked her through the rearview mirror, trying to tease out details.

“Well, he find out there were things about Dumbledore he didn’t know but he could have asked about.” my young teacher said.

“Bad things that Dumbledore learned from when he got older?” I wanted to know.

“Well, mom, you’ll find out in July.”



It’s time to start reading.