A rough cut of the film Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 was screened in Chicago yesterday. Here are some quotes from some great reviews from the test screening. I’ve also included links to the websites where these reviews can be found. Prepare to be spoiled!
This is the Leaky Cauldron’s first Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie spoiler report:
Director David Yates, and Producers David Heyman and David Barron were in attendance at the screening.
The current running time for this rough cut was about two and a half hours.
Some select graphics and CGI enhancements were not fully complete in this screening. Some moments were only rendering.
Green screens, cranes, and other movie props appeared in places.
The film contained a temporary soundtrack; the full soundtrack is still being composed and recorded.
A unique and innovative animation tells the story of the Deathly Hallows.
David Barron confirmed that the final split for the film will indeed be when Lord Voldemort takes the Elder Wand from Dumbledore’s grave.
The crew has not yet finalize their choice of composer for the second part of “Deathly Hallows.”
The Seven Potter sequence features Mr. Radcliffe changing, character by character, as the camera pans around the room. He is left in the original clothes of the character, and with their voice.
The film opens on the Minister of Magic speaking to the press, promising the wizarding public safety and protection of their liberties.
This leads into the Dursley’s leaving their home, and Harry being left in the empty Privet Drive house with Hedwig.
Hedwig does die, returning to the chase sequence to defend Harry from Voldemort.
The title card did not contain and “Part One” distinction.
Both Kreacher and Dobby do make an appearance in the film.
The Death Eater meeting is featured, an unshaven Lucius Malfoy shakes below Voldemort’s gaze.
A series of flashbacks and memories are used to tell both the select back story of the Hallows and Horcruxes. Dumbledore, Slughorn, and more were featured in this telling.
The Death Eater chase ranges from highway action with other cars, featuring Hagrid and Harry on the motorbike doing a loop around the ceiling of a tunnel.
Hermione is shown to obliviate her parents, and make out her way out of the house. When she casts the spell, family photos on the wall are magically wiped of Hermione’s presence.
Hermione is tortured by Bellatrix at Malfoy Manor, after they are captured by the Snatchers. Quite graphic and jarring.
Umbridge returns. Part of the new Death Eater Ministry which takes over.
Death Eaters crash the wedding.
A new stone statue in the Ministry is created, wizards behind held up by a twisted jumble of muggles.
Madam Maxine is featured at the wedding as well.
Ron’s turn against Harry and Hermione builds throughout the first half, his leaving is very dramatic.
Ministry of Magic is turned into a propaganda factory, with posters, pamphlets, and other anti-Muggle propaganda.
Harry and Hermione dance to Nick Cave’s “The Children.”
Dobby makes a fun, funny, and heartwarming return. Humorous interaction with Kreacher.
The Trio are found by the Death Eaters when Xeno says “Voldemort,” a tabooed word.
When Ron is destroying the Horcrux, Harry and Hermione appear as silver porcelain figures, taunting Ron. The engage in a very sensual kiss, which ignites Ron into destroying the Horcrux.
Dementors float above the courtroom where Umbrdige interviews.
The enchantments Hermione puts around the test when Snatchers come up to their camp.
The memorial to the Potters does not appear when Harry and Hermione go to Godric’s Hollow.
Nagini comes from the mouth of Bagshot. The fight crashes into the children’s room of the house next door.
In the Silver Doe scene, Harry breaks his way though the ice to retrieve the sword. When he gets close, the locket around his neck chokes him and drags him under the ice.
When Harry opens the locket, a Voldemort Horcrux tornado appears from the locket, speaking to Ron, and unleashing spiders onto the ground before Ron.
Wormtail lives after Dobby stuns him to free Ron and Harry from the cellar of Malfoy Manor.
The film ends with Voldemort going to a small island where Dumbledore’s tomb is set; he cracks open the white marble, stares into the blank face of Dumbledore, and takes his wand.
This is the link to Leaky’s spoilers:
MuggleNet has a number of spoiler-laden reports and a new podcast which can be found here:
Some of the details from MuggleNet are as follows:
- The film is roughly 2 hours and 30 minutes.
- The music used in the screening will not be in the final cut.
- Bill Nighy is great as Minister for Magic Rufus Scrimgeour; the film opens with him addressing the media.
- Hermione uses a memory charm on her parents at the beginning of the film. The big building we see her walking towards in the trailer is just a church in her neighborhood.
- Watching Snape and Voldemort together is amazing on screen. You see them just before Charity Burbage is killed.
- Lucius Malfoy’s character is paid attention to; what’s going on with his family is very well-established leading into Part 2.
- George loses an ear during the Seven Potters chase scene and the screenwriter kept the “holey” joke between him and Fred in the film.
- The Death Eater who stops the Hogwarts Express in the trailer is looking for Harry Potter. He meets resistance from Neville and other students that are aboard.
- The Hogwarts grounds do not appear in the film until Voldemort opens Dumbledore’s tomb.
- The Last Will and Testament of Albus Dumbledore has a much faster payoff than in the book.
- Harry is not disguised as a Weasley cousin at the wedding.
- Aunt Muriel makes Harry feel terrible because of what he doesn’t know about Dumbledore.
- Viktor Krum and Madam Maxime make appearances at Bill and Fleur’s wedding.
- The scene where Kingsley’s patronus arrives at the wedding to announce the Ministry has fallen is chilling.
- Harry has Sirius’ mirror. How did he get it?
- Similar to the book there is a ghostly version of Dumbledore guarding Grimmauld Place.
- Kreacher clearly obeys Harry in this film, but there is no flashback showing Regulus and Kreacher obtaining the locket.
- The casting of Mundungus Fletcher was well done and his usage is appropriate.
- A young Dumbledore and Grindelwald appear together in a photo. Harry is forced to investigate this throughout the course of the film as he recognizes Grindelwald’s face from somewhere.
- They did not cast Dumbledore’s family for Part I.
- The locations for the camp scenes while the Trio are on the run are very beautiful and scenic, making them not as dull as would be expected.
- Harry and Hermione shippers will get their day during the locket Horcrux scene.
- The Godric’s Hollow scene where Harry visits his parents grave with Hermione is very moving. Hermione conjures a wreath for the Potters’ grave.
- The Tale of the Three Brothers is a fictional story within a fictional story in the books. So when dealing with the movie they could have casted it with real characters. Instead they did a very cool animated sequence as Hermione tells the story.
- Xenophilius Lovegood is very well cast and says “Voldemort” to alert the Snatchers to the Trio’s location.
- Hermione’s torture really brings out a side of Bellatrix, an aspect of her character that we haven’t seen before. What drives her to torture Hermione is both interesting and exciting on film. When Hermione awakens from being tortured she notices the word “mudblood” carved into her arm.
- Peter Pettigrew doesn’t die; he is stunned by Dobby during the big escape from Malfoy Manor. Luna, Ollivander and Griphook are all captive in the manor with Harry and Ron.
- Dobby’s death is very emotional.
- The film ends with Voldemort opening Dumbledore’s tomb and stealing the Elder Wand. We see the scene from the trailer of him shooting magic high into the air and the screen goes black.
MuggleNet reader Gaby had this to say about the test screening of the film:
“Because it was a test screening, the movie was unfinished. At different parts, you see the green screen, ropes pulling Harry, animations during action scenes. Even the soundtrack was temporary. But for all of these “imperfections,” this film felt very perfect. I don’t remember feeling this satisfied with a Harry Potter movie since Chamber of Secrets. By this, I mean that the experience of seeing this movie almost exactly mirrored my experience reading the book all those three years ago.
The opening scene starts out with us looking into the eyes of the new Minister of Magic. We segue into seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione in each of their homes. The Dursleys hastily pack up their possessions to leave 4 Privet Dr. Hermione erases herself from her parents’ memory. I found it very unsettling as we watch her disappear from all her family pictures.
The next scene is Voldemort’s meeting with his Death Eaters. I’m unsure if it’s just me, but I’ve never seen Voldemort talk so much. The movie progresses just like the book. The scene in which everyone drinks Polyjuice Potion and turns into Harry is very amusing. In contrast, the following scene is wrought with adventure and sadness as we realize which beloved characters that were lost.
As for Harry and Ginny’s kiss, I was annoyed how Harry’s head was blocking it most of the time. Also, it was nice to finally meet Bill Weasley! His and Fleur’s wedding was a lovely event, until it was attacked. Now that Harry, Hermione, and Ron have gone on their own, you begin to understand just how dangerous it really is for them. The disguised visit to the Ministry of Magic was full of tension. I could not help but feel nervous for the trio. After successfully stealing the locket from Dolores Umbridge, the trio is left to camp in the wilderness. The evil power of locket and the stress of their mission weigh down on them. I never saw Ron look so burnt out. While reading the books, I was angry that he could just abandon them. However, seeing it visually made me sympathize with him.
There was a very cute scene added where Harry tries to cheer up a depressed Hermione by dancing with her. Although I don’t think it was in the book, it seemed like the audience found it endearing.
The visit to Godric’s Hollow was both sad and scary. It was very emotional to see Harry visit his parents’ graves. As well, seeing Batty turn into snake was horrifying. It will probably be even scarier in 3D. Another strange scene was when Ron had to destroy the locket Horcrux. Once it was opened, the locket projected visually all his fears. One of these fears was a topless Harry and Hermione kissing passionately. But eventually, Ron destroys it.
A “Twilight” reference was made when Hermione begins to read “The Tale of the Three Brothers.” The scene sort of went like this (Not exact words):
Hermione: “One day long ago, three brothers decided to go out traveling the world together. At twilight…”
Ron: “It’s midnight. My mum always says midnight.”
Hermione gives Ron an angry look. Ron instantly backs off.
Ron: “Oh, no, you’re right. Twilight is good. Twilight is better.”
I really loved the animation that depicted the tale, while Hermione was narrating. I liked the way it looked, and it helped show everything clearly.
When the trio is captured and taken hostage. You finally get some quality Death Eater scenes. You see Lucius Malfoy’s desperation, Draco’s struggles with indecision, and the nut case that is Bellatrix Lestrange. Hearing Hermione’s screams while Bellatrix tortures her was enough to make me cringe. It was a complete relief when Dobby appeared to save them. Dobby was definitely the audience favorite. When he first appeared on screen, the audience clapped. Actually, they clapped on all the scenes he appeared in. Hence, it was devastating when we realize that Bellatrix had managed to kill Dobby. It only made me cry more when Harry wanted to give him a proper burial. At this point, it’s the end, and we see Voldemort break into Dumbledore’s tomb and steal the Elder Wand. The last thing we see is Voldemort firing a lightning bolt into the sky with the Elder Wand.
I cannot wait to see this movie again. It’s going to be spectacular and even more perfect. To believe that this is just Part 1 is crazy. To just imagine Part 2 is too much because if it is like anything like this (which it probably is), it will be even more perfect. “
MuggleNet reader Kyle had this to say:
“First off, this is the most perfect Harry Potter film ever. The movie on a whole is amazing and dark. Everyone was on top of their game. Everything was perfect. Dobby’s death was done perfectly. You could see the emotion in Harry and the gang. We saw green screens of course (because the film’s digital effects were not yet complete), but it didn’t affect me at all. The audience LOVED Dobby. Everyone was clapping when we saw him.
The Ron and Harry fight was so well done. The score sadly was not real – that’s the only thing I hated really. Voldemort was in the movie a LOT, but I didn’t care – that’s what made it so real for me. Him and Snape on screen together was amazing. This IS the movie we have been waiting for.
The Seven Potters scene was so well done. The part I loved the most was the Ministry of Magic scenes. This film will get a hard PG13 rating by far. The Horcrux scene was so well done. All the performances were so well done. I can’t wait to see Part Two. Everyone put their heart into this. There is one scene I particularly liked when Harry tried to cheer Hermione up. So cute.
One last thing: The wedding was so great. Kingsley’s message was so dark and powerful that you knew things were about to go down.”
MuggleNet also posted this Q&A with a fan named Dylan:
1. How did Ron react to Hermione being tortured?: Irrationally… That entire scene was just how I imagined it in the books. The Malfoy mansion was absolutely perfect.
2. Were there peacocks?: there may have been… I didn’t notice any. But it doesn’t mean they weren’t there.
3. Were Ron/Hermione done justice?: it was very clear that it was Ron and Hermione. The scene in the forest when Ron saves Harry’s live while he’s swimming underwater to get the sword of Godric Griffindor was amazing.
4. Was the locket scene like you imagined it would be?: When harry opened it, Voldemort played on Ron’s fears and it’s great. His fears for his family, but very vividly his fear that Hermione is into Harry. And the smoke that comes out of the locket is almost like the smoke monster from LOST. It has smoke versions of Harry and Hermione saying the most vicious and hurtful things to Ron. Then they start making out with very little clothes on.
5. Do Harry and Hagrid go straight to the Burrow after the 7 Potters fighting sequence..or do they still stop at the Tonks’ house?: No, they go straight to the burrow. And spoiler alert… Hedwig dies. But I was very happy with the way she dies
6. Is Mad-Eye’s death properly acknowledged?: It’s very abrupt…They arrive back to the Burrow and Bill gives the news that Mad-eye is dead.
7. Was the Lupin/Harry scene at Grimmauld Place included?: No. There is a great part with Lupin though. Right when the seven potters get back to the Burrow Lupin comes in with a bleed Weasley puts him on the couch, grabs harry and slams him against the wall and asks him what the creature that sat in the back of his defense against the dark arts class in Harry’s 3rd year.
8. I’m a Weasley fangirl..so please tell me anything you can remember from the wedding. Ron/Hermione/Krum, the reaction to Kingsley’s patronus, etc: Oh yeah the Krum scene is PERFECT. Ron and Hermione are circling the punch bowl and Ron is pretending not to look at her. Krum comes up to Hermione and takes her out to dance. Ron is furiously watching them. As soon as the dance stops, one of Fleur’s friends walks by and his eyes go from Hermione’s straight to this other girl and he walks away and ditches Hermione
9. So would you say, then, that Ron’s character is done justice in this movie? His character has been..butchered in some of the past movies. : Yes.
10. Can you tell me about the Death Eaters crashing the wedding? Is Greyback there, was there chaos after the patronus, etc.: It’s not a drawn out scene. Kingsley’s terrifying message entered the tent and everything stopped. it was a bloodchilling delivery. Then Death Eaters show up and the trio ducks for cover. Soon they find each other’s hands and apparate to Picadilly Circus.
11. Was the..discrimination against the Mudbloods done justice? Like..do we see them on the run, does Hermione still go to the trial, etc.: No,that is cut out… Hermione does not go on trial. But they’re hating.
12. Is Dobby’s death and burial as completely heartbreaking as it is in the book? Did anyone help Harry bury him?: OMG yes. I was fighting back the tears. The scene was SO SAD. Little Dobby is just SO happy to be in Harry’s arms… and then he dies and you just want to give him a great big hug.
13. Is the Harry/Ginny relationship shown or do they kiss? And if they do, does Ron burst in on them or anything?: yeah they’re making out in the kitchen in the Burrow before the wedding. And fred (I think) comes in and just chills out by the sink just looking at them. It’s a really funny/awkward scene
14. Is Snape in any scenes at all?: Yes. very few.
YuraGamer posted this detailed review at MuggleNet.
“The movie opens with an extreme closeup of Rufus Scrimgeour’s (minister of Magic) as he’s giving a very haunting press conference about all the dangers and horror going around in the wizarding world. The scene zooms out as it turns into a picture in a newspaper. We see the Dursleys packing up, leaving Harry behind, and their house in Pivot Drive completely empty. There’s another scene that starts out with Hermione looking worried in her bedroom. The filmmakers then decided to show Hermione hexing her parents to forget their current lives and move to Australia. After she does this, she also makes all images of her disappear from the pictures in their house. This scene was very well done and was one of my favorites in the whole movie. It was very effective because it quietly communicated the dread wizards were feeling due to Voldemort. There’s a shot in the trailer of Hermione walking towards what looks like a church. She’s not really heading there. It’s just part of a shot of her walking down her street, as the camera pans up to reveal the titles. One thing to note about that: since the movie score isn’t completed yet, they were using a variety of music from other movies, they had some music from Harry Potter, but I would say most of it sounded very much like a Hans Zimmer score. It was a little bizarre to see the Harry Potter And the Deadly Hallows title set to one of the most recognizable cues from The Dark Knight score.
If I recall correctly, we then see a shot of Snape arriving at Malfoy Manor, where there’s a very chilling sequence of Voldemort explaining to the death eaters about the shared core between his wand and Harry’s. The Hogwarts teacher who had been captured and tortured can be seen floating above the table throughout the whole scene. We also get a very intense exchange between Voldemort and Lucius Malfoy, when Voldemort asks for his wand in order to be able to kill Harry. The actor who portrays Lucius does a good job of selling the internal humiliation Lucius feels as his wand is taken away. Then Voldemort brings the teacher forwards, and shortly after she pleads for Severus’ help, she is killed.
We then cut to Harry waiting for the Order of the Phoenix to arrive. One of the things that I was very impressed with in the movie was how despite it being the darkest Harry Potter movie of all, it also had a lot of light hearted humorous parts. The seven Harrys scene is one of the best examples of this. As we see the decoys taking the polyjuice potion, the camera pans 360 degrees around the real Harry seeing all of them transforming. After, when they are changing, there’s a very funny moment when they’re all commenting on Harry’s eyesight, and Fleur comments how hideous she is as she takes of her bra. The sight gag of Dan Radcliffe taking off a bra got a lot of laughs from the audience. The scene plays out pretty much like the book, with the big exception of Harry and Lupin not having the heated argument they have in the book. In fact, Tonks’ pregnancy is brushed aside. It was a little frustrating if you’ve read the book, because they didn’t just omitted it, but literally brushed it aside: just as Tonks is about to make her announcement, Mad-Eye pushes her aside and discusses how important it is to move Harry. Mundungus Fletcher is briefly introduced without much background in this scene, though it is established that he’s forced to be there and that he’s a sketchy character.
Right before they leave, we see the scene of Harry releasing Hedwig from his front door, as seen in the recent publicity shots that have been circling around the web. The chase scene that follows is very exciting, though it mostly focuses on Harry and Hagrid (who is stupefied or paralyzed shortly after the chase begins, leaving Harry to fend for himself). The chase itself is very exciting, and takes place high in the sky, and on the street level, including a sequence through a tunnel that has the motorcycle doing a loop and Harry tippy-toeing on a truck as he hangs on for dear life. Hedwig’s death is a big change from the book; and one, I think is an improvement. Instead of the Death Eaters finding out who the real Harry is because he used Expelliarmus, they find out because Hedwig is flying close to him protecting him. In the movie, as Harry’s about to get hit with a death curse, Hedwig gets in the way and gets killed. Hagrid wakes up as they enter the protected area by the Weasley’s and one by one the Order of the Phoenix arrives. We do not see Mad-Eye’s death, it is only mentioned that he was killed after Fletcher escaped. The scene where Lupin grabs Harry for questioning is identical to the book, and translated great to the screen.
After, there’s a short scene of Harry trying to leave and Ron convincing him to stay for the wedding. We later see them putting up the wedding tent as Rufus Scrimgeour arrives to read the last will of Dumbledore. I thought the scene was very interesting, and the filmmakers made a very good effort of trying to maintain the relevance of the items Dumbledore left them throughout the movie. The golden snitch is usually seen flying around Harry at various points in the film, Ron’s illuminator is used several times. The Tales of Beedle the Bard are kind of ignored upfront, but obviously play a large part later on in the film.
The biggest change in the wedding scene is that Harry attends without any disguise. We see cameos from some old characters like Madam Maxine and Victor Krum (who dances with Hermione as Ron jealously watches in the background). This is also where we meet Mr. Lovegood, who was perfectly cast and portrayed. The camera purposely focuses on his necklace, but nothing is mentioned about it. We do not learn its significance until later, and there is no argument between him and Krum. Then there’s a short, but good conversation between Harry, Aunt Muriel and Elphias Doge in which some exposition is given to Dumbledore’s past. The actress playing Aunt Muriel makes a very good job at teasing Harry for not knowing Dumbledore. The wedding is cut short by the Patronus announcing the fall of the Ministry and the impending arrival of the Death Eaters. After a chaotic exit, we see the trio go into the coffee shop, where they are attacked by another pair of Death Eaters. There’s a nice bookend sequence here where Hermione uses the same memory charm on one of the Death Eaters that she used on her parents.
The Grimmauld place sequences are very shortened compared to the ones in the book. The trio discovers that RAB is Regulus Black very quickly and there’s no doubt it’s him who took the locket. Harry then finds Krecher and sends him after Mundungus Fletcher when he finds out he stole the locket. The whole subplot with the dual portraits in Grimmauld place and the Hogwarts Headmaster’s office was cut. There’s short sequence at Diagon Alley, where we see Fletcher hiding from people (and the first sighting of the Harry Potter Undesireable #1 poster). The movie then cuts to Harry, Ron and Hermione sitting around a table, when they hear a noise, then they notice Mundungus Fletcher with Kreacher hanging around his neck. Then, in what got one of the biggest reactions from the audience, Dobby greets Harry Potter as the camera pans to show him dangling from Fletcher’s leg. After a quick interrogation, they realize they need to go to the Ministry.
The Ministry sequence plays out almost exactly like the book. I have to say, seeing people flush themselves down a toilet to get there was very funny, especially because when we first see the bathroom, every stall has a line of people constantly going in but no one coming out. One thing that stood out is that the filmmakers were going to great extents to draw comparisons between the crusade against Muggles and Nazis. The statue at the entrance of the Ministry has been replaced by one of Muggles being crushed to death by wizards. Later, when Harry enters Umbridge’s office, we see workers making anti-muggle propaganda that looks almost exactly like Nazi propaganda. The guards at the ministry even have red bands around their arms, similar to Nazis. This was a little jarring for me even if it was also very strongly implied in the books, mostly, I think because of how visually obvious it is. The effects from their escape out of the ministry were very unfinished, but they include a run-in with Dementors in the court room, and some back and forth spell casting with Ministry storm troopers. Finally, we see them apparate in the wilderness, and Ron’s arm being severely hurt, which puts him out of commission for a while, and sets the stage for his jealousy and eventual leaving.
After that, the movie slows down quite a bit, as we enter the scenes set when Harry, Ron and Hermione walk around in the wilderness. I was afraid that the movie was going to have the same pacing problems as the book had during these sequences, and I was not proven wrong. These scenes tend to drag a bit, especially because the first part of the movie is so full of action sequences. One thing that makes these scenes more interesting than the book’s is that the locations they used to film these are absolutely stunning. Props to the location scouts for finding these places. Another big element in this set of scenes is the horcrux locket, and the effect it has on whoever wears it. In a way, these scenes almost feel like a Lord of the Rings homage, due to the constant wide shots of pretty landscapes and the similar ways in which the locket and the One ring affect whoever is wearing it.
It is interesting to note that, while Ron listens to his radio, the Potterwatch subplot is mostly overlooked. Since the movie is very much focused only on what Harry, Ron and Hermione are doing (think, for example, how in War of the Worlds or Signs we never really see what’s going on in the outside world), I thought the underuse of Potterwatch was a missed opportunity to show how horrible things were out in the rest of the world.
The scenes of Ron arguing with Harry and Ron abandoning them were very well acted, in my opinion. The performances were all around the best in any of the Potter movies, especially from the main three characters.
After Ron leaves, Harry and Hermione decide to go to Godric’s Hollow. The scene right when they arrive is another one of my favorite scenes from the movie. The setting and tone are very dark, like the rest of the movie, but it is contrasted with the snow and the caroling they hear from a nearby church. The scene when Harry finds his parent’s tomb is as close to perfect as possible. A very creepy Bathilda Bagshot shows up at the cemetery and leads them to her house. Just as in the book, she does not speak in front of Hermione, and takes Harry upstairs, where she speaks to him in Parsel (a change from the book, where we do not learn that it’s Parsel until later.) The effect of Nagini coming out of Bathilda were mostly incomplete. In particular, we saw what seemed to be a place holder for the most graphic scene of Bathilda’s skin falling to the ground as Nagini comes out. What we saw were a couple of quick shots of her jumping out. Voldemort does not show up at Godric’s Hollow before they disapparate out.
We see Harry having another of the dreams / shared memories he’s had throughout the movie, bringing him one step closer to finding out about the elder wand. When he wakes up, Hermione tells him he’s been out cold for a while. I can’t remember if this is where this particular scene is placed in the movie, but the filmmakers added a very very good scene of Harry and Hermione setting the locket (and therefore, their worries) aside, and they have a very awkward, but touching dance in the tent. It was also one of my favorite scenes in the movie, because it brought some levity to all the bad moments they’d been through up to that point.
Afterwards, we see the scene of the Doe patronus leading Harry to Griffindor’s sword, and the scene plays out much like the book, including a very dramatic reveal that it’s Ron who rescues Harry from drowning in the freezing water. After they get Griffindor’s sword, Harry opens the locket so Ron can destroy the Horcrux. When it opens, a massive creature that looks a little like the Smoke monster from Lost appears and tries starts taunting Ron with everything that made him leave in the first place. The sequence hits a high point with what I think will be one of the most talked about things in this movie: a silvery illusion Harry and Hermione are shown making out topless. Great acting by Rupert Grint in this scene.
After that, they decide to visit Mr. Lovegood, where they finally learn about the symbol of the Hallows. In an inspired choice by the filmmakers, we do not only hear the Tale of the Three Brothers as Hermione reads it, but also shown it through an animation sequence. It’s a little tough to describe, but I’ll try my best. It’s a pretty barebones animation set against a simple background that looks like old and yellowed paper. The characters look basically like 3D animated stick figures, and almost like a scaled back version of something Tim Burton would do. Everyone I talked to thought that the sequence was a very clever way to get through a lot of exposition.
Another change from the book is that Mr. Lovegood calls the Death Eaters to his house by saying Voldemort’s name outloud. (The taboo was mentioned by Ron earlier in the movie, but not really explained.) After they manage to escape the attack, they apparate immediately to where the snatchers are. They get chased down through the forest, shooting spells from their wands. The scene seemed to be shot with a hand held camera, and there was a lot of shaking and quick cuts, like a Jason Bourne chase sequence. The effects on this scene also looked like a work in progress, and there was no music (and since most of the movie had a temporary score, we don’t know if they intentionally left no music for this sequence.) They get caught, but not before Hermione deforms Harry’s face so that he’s not recognized, and then they get taken to Malfor Manor.
Given that the movie was going to be split, I thought that the escape from Malfoy Manor would be emphasized more, and the action increased, so as to give the movie one final large action sequence before the cut. However, it seemed to go much faster than I anticipated. After Bellatrix notices Griffindor’s sword, she keeps Hermione for torture and sends the rest of them to the dungeon. The torture scenes are very intense, but a lot of what makes the scene work is seeing the characters in the dungeon react to Hermione screaming in pain. Bellatrix cuts the word Mudblood into Hermione’s forearm. Harry looks into the mirror shard (something he’s been holding the entire movie, while looking at Dumbledore’s eye the whole time), and soon after, Dobby apparates to help Harry. An interesting note is that Wormtail is stunned by Dobby but he does not die in the movie. Given how much I hate that character, I hope they’re just saving it for the second part.
After they escape the dungeon, the confrontation and escape from the Manor goes very quickly. Dobby drops the chandelier, Harry dodges and wrestles Draco’s wand from him (another interesting point is how Tom Felton played Draco with a lot of uncertainty of what’s happening around him. In this sequence, for example, Draco barely puts up a fight with Harry for his wand, and the whole time, Draco has a conflicted look on his face). The scene ends with Dobby gathering everyone around him in order to apparate in Bill and Fleur’s house. Before they leave, we see Bellatrix throw a knife at the group, and the whole scene is set in slow motion, so you see the knife flying towards Dobby, while at the same time we see the apparition portal opening up. We do not see what happens with the knife at this moment. Then the movie cuts to a beach, where Harry yells happily that they’re all OK; until he notices that Dobby had been stabbed in the heart with the knife Beatrix threw. Dobby dies in Harry’s arms, and he declares he wants to bury him traditionally, with no magic. This is the last we see of our heroes.
The final shot of the film is the only to take place in Hogwarts, (I didn’t see the castle, but it is likely that it will be added later) and it’s Voldemort flying towards Dumbledore’s tomb, cracking it open, and taking the Elder Wand from his dead hands. The camera focuses on Voldemort’s joyous face as he obtained the only Hallow he was looking for, the camera zooms out and we see he’s conjuring up a massive and ominous cloud. The end.
I would say this is my favorite Harry Potter movie since Prisioner of Azkaban without a doubt. It is also the most faithful to the books since movies 1 and 2. I’m still conflicted about the split because it both feels appropriate and like an excuse to extend the series at the same time. The movie benefits from not having the action and narrative compressed like the last few movies, but at the same time, the cut feels a little artificial, especially if you’ve read the book. My biggest complaint with the split is that the movie ends shortly after we learn about the Hallows (and by extension, the reason for the title). That’s the moment when the story moves away from the three characters trying to figure out the plot, to the characters having a good understanding about what’s going on and what they need to do next. Because of this, the movie doesn’t seem to have that strong a narrative compass as it could. Once both movies are out, it won’t make sense to watch this part without watching part 2 shortly after, and in the meantime, this movie suffers a bit because of this.
Most of the omissions and changes from the book seemed to be either improvements, or changes that were made to simplify the narrative and avoid unnecessary exposition. The best example would be the change in the role of Hedwig at the beginning of the film. Keeping the Expeliarmus explanation would have added a lot of confusing exposition to the movie. The change allowed for a more streamlined narrative, and also for Hedwig’s death to be more meaningful. They can also trim a little from the middle sequences in the forest. That part seemed to drag a little, just like in the book. However, these complaints are minor, and do not detract significantly from the film.
Overall, I believe the movie lived up to expectations, and it bodes well for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, since they got a lot of the exposition out of the way, they’ll be able to make a more action packed and exciting movie.”
The Hogwarts radio podcast has an in-depth review of the film at
Feel free to discuss these and other Deathly Hallows movie spoilers in the comments. I’m especially interested in Ron/Hermione spoilers and discussion of the religious symbolism in the film.
*UPDATE* Please read the comments for more spoilers!
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