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Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived

Today I was able to escape into the magic that is Harry Potter and was totally captivated. I know there are innumerable recounts and reviews, opinions and essays written, posted, and printed now that this decade-long journey is complete, and mine is one voice among the masses, but I couldn't NOT talk about this movie.

I had two immediate thoughts when the credits rolled: I have to see this again and I can't believe it's over.

Beware: this review is out of bounds to everyone who does not wish to die a most painful death full of spoilers for HP7. 

I'm not what you might call a hard-core Harry Potter fan. I don't own anything with Gryffindor's colors on it, or have my own wand. I've never written or read any HP fanfiction. And I've only seen the movies previous to this latest pair (meaning HP7 parts 1 &2) once or twice each. I have, however, re-read the books (all of them) multiple times, the seventh one receiving the most repeat visits, because once I began, the storytelling prowess of J.K. Rowling owned me.

I wasn't an easy sell, mind you.

I held out, thinking there's no way this could all live up to the hype. I purposely didn't read because everyone else was. And then, one day, I gave in. I don't know what did it, really. Curiosity, perhaps. The fifth book was out, and I'm not sure how many movies had been made by that time, but I decided to give it all a go. I read the first three books inside of a week. The fourth was checked out at the library, so I went to a used book store to buy it because I couldn't wait for whoever it was that dared impede my continuation of this saga to return it. I finished that book in two days, then got the fifth from the library and when I finished I found myself -- along with half the world -- dying of anticipation with the 6th and 7th books.

I had quite a movie night when I decided to catch up with the films as well. The thing I found fascinating was that even with the necessary editing and summarizing of details, characters, and scenes, each movie held up to the heart of the story J.K. Rowling laid out for us. As with any adaptation, there are things I loved about the books that I was disappointed not seeing in the movies -- but never to the extent that it ruined the entertainment factor.

Even my least favorite book -- The Half-Blood Prince -- became an enthralling movie. The way the entire creative crew behind these 8 films have brought this world to life is...well, magical. As the stories grew darker, so did the sets, the costumes, the lighting -- even Hogwarts itself. Everything was visceral and living and made us forget for those hours we sat watching that this wasn't actually real. The soundtrack evolved as well. The first few had almost a music-box like lilt to the theme, but by this latest outing, the heartbreaking sounds of cellos and violins were added, and the theme became deeper, more ominous.

I've always been a sucker for a damaged hero, and with Harry Potter Rowling gave me exactly the type of character I like to read. But while his name graces the franchise, the story isn't just about Harry -- it's about everyone who believes in him, everyone who stands by him and fights beside and because of him. And it's those characters who make this world such a rich, entertaining place.

The Deathly Hollows Part 2 was an epic culmination of 10 years of storytelling. I laughed, I cried.... I loved that not only were we able to stay with the same three actors who'd started this journey in the characters of Ron, Hermione, and Harry, but that we also had the same actors who played Neville, Seamus, Dean, Luna, Cho, Fred, George, Fleur.... Those kids grew up before our eyes. And to have the amazing talents of Maggie Smith playing McGonagall and Alan Rickman as Snape for every film.... It was truly like saying goodbye.

Daniel Radcliff has continued to engender my appreciation for how he brings this character to life. He shows us a Harry who is not overly arrogant or overtly humble. He's just a boy with a destiny he never asked for, yet is determined to see through for the sake of the greater good. And he's handicapped by this painful connection to the most evil, vile creature in his world. Yet he fights on with help of his two closest allies and best friends -- both of whom embody their characters wholly. I don't know if I'll ever be able to look at any of these three actors -- at least in the near future -- and not think, "Oh, wow! Ron/Hermione/Harry is in a different movie!"

The CGI effects -- like the multiplying spell in Bellatrix LeStrange's vault and the albino dragon in Gringotts that they use as a means of escape -- were fantastic in this film. In earlier films, there were times you could detect the man behind the curtain, so to speak. But here, if I didn't know better, I'd wonder why they didn't have 'dragon wrangler' listed in the credits. The protective shield of magic around Hogwarts, the wand works -- especially the green/red power surges from Harry and Voldemort's wands -- and the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-like ride through Gringotts were all wonderfully done.

The dialog remained witty and fresh -- even when it strayed from the parameters of the book. I especially like Ron's ad libs and facial expressions. From his reaction after seeing the bewitched goblin get roasted by the dragon ("Well, that's unfortunate!") to hauling ass around the corner in the Room of Requirement after Crabb (or was it Goyle?) set the place on fire. And I loved LOVED McGonagall's girlish, giddy, "I've always wanted to use that spell," after setting the stone guards in place around Hogwarts as well as Molly Weasley's, "Not my daughter, you bitch!" to Bellatrix before she zapped her into ash (Yay! Molly!).

Of the two kisses we saw, Ron and Hermione's was perfection. After everything they'd been through -- taking Deathly Hollows Part 1 into account with the 6 months of traveling and searching and Ron leaving and Hermione nearly giving him up for dead only for him to come back and then breaking out of Gringotts on a dragon before killing a Horcrux with the tooth from a dead Bassilix -- the kiss was perfectly timed and executed and...well, I'll admit it. I clapped.

But just a little.

And in all the movies, it's always been the moment Harry has been forced to overcome Voldemort's power and control that has grabbed my heart and clenched it tight. Like at the end of Order of the Phoenix, when Harry is writhing in pain on the floor of the Ministry of Magic as his friends look on in horror while Voldemort tries to take him over, I sat with my hand over my heart, waiting for Harry to tell the Dark Lord that he feels sorry for him because he'll never know love or friendship. These are simple themes, but in all of Rowling's magnitude of storytelling, they are the themes that bring an end to evil.

So in Deathly Hollows Part 2, the moments when Harry connected with Voldemort -- either by accident or of his own volition -- were captivating to me. I love how they're able to visually depict this link through edit and acting. It's just creepy enough and gives Harry -- this kid who has this impossible responsibility and destiny thrust upon his shoulders -- a vulnerability that I love.

I'm an emotional person, so crying during a movie is not all that 'out there' for me. I was forewarned to wear the waterproof mascara for this viewing, and I'm glad I listened. But the interesting thing is, I didn't cry in the places I thought I would, knowing the story as I did. The first time the tears welled surprised me the most because I didn't see it coming. I was waiting for the deaths of Fred and Tonks and Remus to hit me as they had when I read the book -- but, strangely, I wasn't as affected by those deaths in the movie. Perhaps those moments were rushed due to necessary pacing. *shrugs*

No, the first moment I choked up was after Harry appeared in the Great Hall and McGonagall chased off Snape. Voldemort's voice echoes through the school and everyone hears him say that if they give him Harry, they will be spared. For a moment, no one moves. And then a Slytherin student cries out, "What are you waiting for? Get him!"

Harry is standing alone, unprotected in the middle of the room. And then Ginny Weasley steps out in front of him. Soon after, Harry's friends and a few of the professors follow suit, but the moment Ginny puts herself in front of Harry, I felt the tears burn my eyes. Sure, Ginny is Harry's love interest, but to me it signified more than that -- he was worthy of their protection not because his name was Harry Potter, but because of who he was to them. What he'd done for them. Rowling had written us a hero and they treated him as such. *sniff*

The next moment I attribute to two things: Alan Rickman's amazing acting and Rowling's subtle way of peeling back the layers.

It started with the look on Harry's face when he goes to Snape who was bleeding to death from Nagini's (the snake) attack. This is the person Harry believes killed Dumbledore out of malice and a lust for power and yet, he looks so pained at Snape's suffering -- even before he knows the truth. Then later, Harry pours Snape's bottled tears into the pensieve, and he sees the real story -- how Snape loved his mother, Lilly, so much he begged Dumbledore to protect her, the utter heartbreak on Snape's face when he finds Lilly's body on the floor of Harry's nursery, how he clutched her to him and rocked with grief, the angry horror in Snape's voice when he realized that Dumbledore had been keeping Harry alive so that he could die at the "right moment" to defeat Voldemort, how Snape's patronus was the same as Lilly's and he'd been protecting Harry all this time....

I tell ya, I was a blubbering mess. That did NOT happen to me while reading the book.

But seeing Snape's story unfold before our eyes -- the unseen hero, the one mistaken for a villain for all these years -- my heart ached. This is storytelling at its best; this reveal of Snape's character wasn't a last minute Jodie Picoult-like twist. It was planned. From the first time someone had tried to hurt Harry at Hogwarts (Prof. Quirrell at the quiddich match) Snape had been protecting him while at the same time hiding behind the persona of hatred so that Voldemort would trust him and he could continue to work as a double agent. What a tragic figure -- alone, untrusted, unloved and yet...it was Snape who'd loved the purest, the longest. His love had saved Harry.

The third and final moment of tears (because after that point, I was breathless waiting to see what they were going to do next) was when Harry stumbled out of Dumbledore's office, the knowledge that he had to die etched on his face, and tells Hermione and Ron that he's giving himself up to Voldemort. His voice trembles as he says that there's a reason he can speak to snakes, that he can feel the horcruxes. He looks at Hermione and says he's known for awhile, and he thinks she has, too. Tears choking her voice, she tells him she'll come with him and wraps her arms around him in a desperate hug.

I ran out of napkins at that point and was trying not to sniff too loudly. The theme of the hero sacrificing for the good of the people has always gotten to me, but it was Hermione's offer and admission -- she knew part of Voldemort was trapped inside Harry, but didn't want to say it out loud because that would mean that she would lose one of her best friends and, by this point, only family -- that did me in. The movies did a wonderful job bringing to vivid life the bond between these three characters in such a way that despite knowing how it ended, I felt Hermione's fear of loss keenly.

The ensuing battle, as I said, left me breathless. The images of Hagrid carrying a seemingly dead Harry back to Hogwarts, of Harry and Voldemort locked in mortal combat, of Neville pulling the sword from the Sorting Hat and then heroically chopping the head from the snake and killing the last horcrux...they'll not be soon gone from memory.

This endless gushing is not to say that the series -- or this piece of it -- was perfect. There were details eliminated and folded, characters erased and streamlined. But whenever you take book to movie, you'll have the same. And there's no way a movie is going to fit every fan's preference for how the story "should have" been told. My only nit with this movie was that I wish the final battle between Harry and Voldemort had taken place in the Great Hall in front of everyone -- as it did in the book. Or if not in the Great Hall, at least have everyone see. Because there was something vindicating for me having all of those people who'd been fighting and bleeding and losing loved ones see that Harry was the Chosen One for a reason.

But that is one small point in a world that has kept me entertained for years -- and will for years to come. I am already looking forward to when my daughter will be old enough I can share this with her. A very imaginative five, she might yet be too young to wrap her mind around the scarier parts. But the themes of honor, loyalty, friendship, and love are ones that I anticipate sharing with her as she grows into her own version of storyteller.

Until that time, I believe I'll re-read my favorites of the series (Books 4, 5, and 7) and make plans to do a Deathly Hollows double-header before Part 2 leaves the theater.



( 25 Tall Tales — Tell Me A Story )
Jul. 18th, 2011 03:51 am (UTC)
I loved the movie, and cried in all the same places! It wasn't my FAVORITE of the Harry Potter movies....I'm not sure which one was my favorite, but it was WELL DONE. I marvel at what JK Rowling was able to do with this series of books. I was telling the girls that someday they will be telling their children as they read them the Harry Potter books that they were there all dressed up for the midnight release party of the last book, and all the hype that went with it. What a legacy!
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:40 pm (UTC)
I think I might need to re-watch all of them to determine which is my favorite, but this was definitely in the top three...maybe top two. I was completely enchanted. I LOVE that your girls were a part of the 'hype' -- such a legacy indeed. :)

The hubs and I have a tentative date on Friday -- he's not well enough yet to go to the soccer games again (too hot, too much sitting) and so since we missed one last night and will miss one on Saturday, I got a babysitter for Friday and we're going to try to go to a movie. He's not that picky when it comes to movies, so I may try to use my womanly wiles to get him to take me to see this again. He sat through Part 1 -- surely he'll want to know how it all ends, right? :)

Have a great day!

Edited at 2011-07-22 09:16 pm (UTC)
Jul. 23rd, 2011 03:32 am (UTC)
It's Friday night now! Let me know how it goes! We got the girls home, and took them to see Captain America. Loved it!
Jul. 23rd, 2011 03:53 am (UTC)
Well, I got to go on a date, but I couldn't convince him of HP. We went to see Transformers instead. LOL! Very much a guy movie, but I do like Shia LeBeouf. And his girly screams.

Yay for the girls being home!!!
Jul. 18th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
*Skips spoileries and cuddles you*

I'm hoping they'll still be playing both back to back as I missed the first part in the theatres first go round. *Pouts* Never missed one before and of course I missed THAT one. *Plots*
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:41 pm (UTC)
*Hugs you tight*

I miss you, lady! I need to catch up on my flist posties.

You must find yourself a way to see both of these -- truly, truly. You won't be disappointed. And then we can chatter and gush. :)

See you very soon over in your journal! :)
Jul. 22nd, 2011 12:01 am (UTC)
*Dances in joy!* Hullah darling!!

Missed you too!! But ahhh, I'm so boring, lol! So bring coffee when you go to look at my posties. *Grins*

Ohh, I want to, so SO bad!! Can't believe I missed the first part....nevermind, yeah I can, lol! Nasty winter and broke as a joke. Argh. Now I need to see them back to back however I can!

See you sweetie!!

*Massive hugs!*
Jul. 18th, 2011 12:24 pm (UTC)
I read the first book when I was 13 (I'm 25 now), so this series has been part of my life for more than half of it. Most of my friends read the books, both of my siblings did too. But I'm surrounded by purists who refuse to watch the movies, I only have my brother to come see them with me. Me, I assume that like with any book adaptations there are going to be some things missing, so I don't go detail hunting and try to enjoy the movies are they are.

Deathly Hallows part one & two were my favortie movies, if not my favorite book. I think one of the reasons is something you pointed out: probably because the special effects are better, it feels more like magic is organically integrated to the world, like it's just their lives. And the relationships, particularly between the three leads were really moving.

I was waiting for the deaths of Fred and Tonks and Remus to hit me as they had when I read the book -- but, strangely, I wasn't as affected by those deaths in the movie. Perhaps those moments were rushed due to necessary pacing. *shrugs*

For me it was the contrary - it the books it felt very sudden, and it never really felt real to me. In the movie seeing the bodies, people reacting to the death brought things to home better.

I hope you'll get your daughter to love Harry Potter too!
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:45 pm (UTC)
How fantastic that this has been part of your life for so long -- I love that! What a treasured memory.

And the relationships, particularly between the three leads were really moving.

Oh, I so, so agree. I loved watching all three of them fight and survive and then at the end just looking at each other like...well, that's done...now what? LOL!

For me it was the contrary - it the books it felt very sudden, and it never really felt real to me. In the movie seeing the bodies, people reacting to the death brought things to home better.

Isn't that interesting? I love how different people can react opposite to the same thing. Gives us all -- and the story -- so many layers. Fantastic. :)

I am trying to decide if five is too young to start reading her the books. She's into chapter books now -- we're working our way through Little House On the Prairie. *ponders*
Jul. 18th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
Glad to see you have managed to fill the hiatus with ramblings after all!

I haven't seen the film yet but your review gives me encouragement - I think I will enjoy and be moved much more by the film than I was by the book. Like chiiyo86 says - a lot of the time, it's the reactions of the other characters to a death which tugs at the heartstrings, and I found most of the deaths in the books just passed me by emotionally. I remember before one of the eagerly anticipated volumes came out I read JK saying she'd cried buckets at her own writing (I think it was killing off Dumbledore) and then when I read it I was bemused. And I have been known to cry at the drop of a hat, but whatever she did with those scenes just didn't do it for me. *shrugs*
So as you can guess, not a huge fan though I have read them all and thought they were fun (apart from the deathly boring overlong teenage angsting that padded out the 2 after Azkhaban).
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)

There will always be ramblings. :)

I hope you aren't too spoiled by anything having read this before watching the movie. For me, knowing what was to happen only enhanced my reaction to how it happened.

I didn't cry when Dumbledore was killed -- either book or movie. I know how important a character he was to Harry (and Rowling) but to be honest, he kind of annoyed me. His "need to know" approach to everything, the way he (in my opinion) used Harry to achieve a goal he felt larger than Harry's own life, it was a father figure that had me gritting my teeth more often than not.

And...kinda reminded me of a different father figure, in a way.

I wasn't GLAD when he died or anything, I just reacted more strongly to Fred Weasley's death than Prof Dumbledore. *shrugs* What can you do, right? LOL.

I think the movie does away with a lot of the teenage angsting. It's even got a good amount of visual h/c. ;) Well... more h than c, but still.
Jul. 21st, 2011 04:56 pm (UTC)
No spoilers, don't worry - I've read all the books...
It feels a bit odd talking to you here and on twitter!
Jul. 21st, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
It's my way of 'cloning'... *laugh*
Jul. 21st, 2011 05:09 pm (UTC)
Now I just sent you (or your clone) an email - more confusion. Ha ha
Speak of which, have you read any of these Dark Angel/SPN crossovers? Sadly the main story hasn't been finished (though where it is left is kind of an ok place to end though there are many dangling threads) but it is utterly charming. Dean with his baby clones (Alec and Ben) is just so heartbreakingly adorable. http://scourgeofeurope.livejournal.com/38445.html#cutid1
Jul. 21st, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
*laughs about email to clone*

I generally don't seek out crossovers, but I'll check this out since you rec'd it. :)

Jul. 21st, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
It looks long (28 chapters!!!) but they are all quite short - it's an easy read, made me laugh quite a lot... Sam is so long suffering trying to cope with 3 Deans at once (even if two of them are only 9 year olds..)
Jul. 19th, 2011 01:55 pm (UTC)
I LOVED the movie! Like you, I have read all the books and have been waiting for this forever. And it didn't disappoint.

Sure, there were some things they could've done differently, yadda yadda, but this wasn't about comparing the book to movie. It was about the adventure this saga has taken us on. And what an adventure it has been! I'm gonna go see it again!

I don't have any kids yet, but hope that one day we can share Harry Potter's story together.

Thanks for a wonderful and exciting review! :D
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Pinkchick
this wasn't about comparing the book to movie. It was about the adventure this saga has taken us on.

Yes! This! Exactly! :)

I, too, have to see it again. I want to rent Part 1 and watch, then immediately go to the theater and see Part 2. My hubs laughs at me, but I wasn't much different when LOTR was in the theaters. When I love a story, I LOVE a story. :)

Thank you for reading! I look forward to seeing you again soon.
Jul. 20th, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
I just came back from wacthing the movie with my sisters and it was just perfect.

I've read all the book (I'm currently rereading them) and seen all the movies and I'm so in love with this amazing universe that J.K. Rowling has created for us.

I really loved Alan Rickman in this movie. Snape is such an interesting character, and I just love that everything he does, is for a woman who's been dead for sixteen years. I remember reading the last book and being in chock over that neat little plot twist. It is just beautifully played out in the movie.

Also Neville is a major badass, I do believe he changes the most throughout the series :)

Sorry for the long-ish ramble, I hope you are well :)
Jul. 21st, 2011 03:53 pm (UTC)
It really was rather perfect, wasn't it? Nits aside, it totally sweeps you up. And I agree -- Alan Rickman blew me away.

I always had trouble seeing him as Snape for some reason -- mainly because he was always "Hans Gruber" from Die Hard in my head. His diction and 'way' of talking was etched in my head from that character. But in this movie? I forgot all about that and he BECAME Snape for me. I loved it.

Neville!! I thought he was AWESOME! It was too bad there wasn't enough time in the movies to reveal that Neville could have been the Chosen One, y'know?

Ramble on, my friend! Thank you for reading! Looking forward to seeing you again soon.
Jul. 21st, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
I adore Alan Rickman - he was the best ever Sheriff of Nottingham and if you have never seen Truly Madly Deeply you really must (but be prepared with a heap of tissues) because you will fall in love with him in that film...
Jul. 21st, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, absolutely -- I loved his Sheriff, too! When I'm truly frustrated at work, I sometimes find myself muttering, "I'm gonna cut your heart out with a spoon! Because it's dull, you twit, it'll HURT more!"

I'll have to put Truly, Madly, Deeply on my list. :)
Jul. 21st, 2011 06:36 pm (UTC)
I loved that film, it is sooooooooo sad.... I've only ever managed to watch it the once. Some films are like that though aren't they?
Aug. 30th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC)
I cried too.
I know it's been awhile and this post caught my attention even though the movie came out last month, the parts that you mentioned here still makes me well up a little bit with tears. lol My niece literally grew up with the Harry Potter books. Book 1 and 2 were given to her as a xmas present but she never really got into them until she got a little older she finally read them and saw the first movie with me. She even named her cat(which she has had for almost 6 months now I think)Remus. Her favorite Hogwarts professor. She also a non-spoiler phobe lol. She doesn't care if u tell her the ending but when I told her of the deaths of Remus Lupin and Tonks after reading the 7th book(my niece's boyfriend had the book. Also a Harry Potter fan), her face deflated. She turned 20 last week. She grew up with Harry Potter.*shakes head in disbelief* Wow. Because of our love for Harry Potter we often compare them to the Twilight book series and the movies as well. We're in agreement that Twilight doesn't really have the same morals of Harry Potter which teaches about love, friendship, family, standing up for what you believe in, etc whereas Twilight basically teaches you how some girls like guys who glitter, broody, a borderline stalker with a certain "addiction." :P Also, we agree that Kristen Stuart is a real crap actress in our opinion. lol.

My niece went to the midnight showing for HP7 part 2 with her boyfriend and she cried like everyone, my self included at Snape pensive memories. I also cried when the Weasley family surrounded the body of Fred and at the part when Harry knew he had to die and Hermione wanted to go with him. I wasn't really expecting to be so emotional for this movie. lol I don't really cry during movies. Tears well up a little or my breath catches at some emotional parts but full on tears trickling down your face? Not so much. But this time they did! It was so bittersweet and strange that these books and movies become part of growing up. There will no other books like these ever again. To me they seem like stories to past down to your kids and their kid's kids. ;)

Catch ya later. :)

Aug. 31st, 2011 02:12 am (UTC)
Re: I cried too.
I read a quote by Stephen King where he said, "Harry Potter is about overcoming adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."

Hee. I'd have to agree.

I love that you niece has grown up with this. What a thing to treasure! I literally just finished reading HP1 to Mo Chuisle tonight. I haven't let her watch past number 2 yet, though. I think I'll wait a bit before subjecting her to the Dementors and I KNOW I'm not ready for her to see The Triwizard Tournament.

But soon.

I want to see HP7/2 again. Like...now. Now would be good. Hee! I can't wait until it comes out on DVD. I'm going to have a fest. :)

And I cry in movies a lot, actually, but I didn't expect to cry this much in this one. I'm glad I wasn't alone. *grins*

It's good to hear from you, Crash! Hope you've had a good summer. SPN's right around the corner! :)

Best to you,
( 25 Tall Tales — Tell Me A Story )

Time is Relative, Stories are Forever

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