In the summer of 2009, I was completely unfamiliar with the world of Harry Potter but decided it was my pop-cultural duty to read the entire series and then watch the films. I accomplished this in four months. (That’s what happens when you rely on your local library which for some reason has a dozen copies of Goblet of Fire and only one of The Half-Blood Prince – your pop-culture duty is at the mercy of book-renewing 10-year-olds.) In the year between finishing the books and watching Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part I this week, I’ve been obsessed with the world J.K. Rowling created, and sought a replacement to fill the Harry-shaped hole in my heart. In that time, I read The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, knowing that I set an exceedingly high bar for them. I found out thousands of pages and one half-vampire baby later that there is nothing that can compare to Harry Potter.
While I’m a relatively new fan compared to most people, I’m rabidly obsessed and a little biased toward anything regarding The Boy Who Lived. But that also means I’m especially critical of the films which honestly never wowed me…until now. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part I perfectly captures the tone of the book, from the epic myth of the Deathly Hallows (illustrated with a stunning animation sequence) to the humor (this movie is truly funny in parts – George Weasley and Dobby the House Elf deserve special recognition for their brief, hilarious contributions), to that agony that strikes wizards and Muggles alike, known as the teenage crush. Oh, and there’s a moment toward the end of the film that was partially rendered in CGI and it made us cry. CGI should not make people cry! And yet there I was, my tears over-salting my $10 popcorn.
The film is rated PG-13 for “intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality.” We didn’t realize what a great action movie it would be, so that part is true. And the imagery, like the Death Eaters attacking in mid-air and Nagini the snake eating people whole, is frightening but also pretty beautiful. As for the “sensuality,” you will know it when you see it. It might make you laugh (we did), or it might make your skin crawl (ours did), but true to its description, it is brief, thank baby Jesus. But it’s not the kid-friendly Harry Potter of the past, there’s no trace of Hogwarts (yet!), no butter beer to be swilled at The Three Broomsticks, no jokes at chubby cousin Dudley’s expense. This is a movie on a serious, adult mission and it delivers.
My (epic! One-whole-year long!) journey with Harry has been so worth it. I’m sure I would be okay never having read any of the books, and I definitely wouldn’t be as swoon-y over the whole franchise as I am now if the movie hadn’t been so good. But it is. And as the credits rolled, I got that same feeling I got when I turned the last page of book seven – the feeling of sadness that comes when something amazing is over. Despite clocking in at 2.5 hours, it was not enough movie for me. I guess that’s what happens when you can feel something you want slip away. You want to sit in the dark, in a possibly bedbug-filled theater with a sticky floor just to prolong the experience. If I feel this way about Part I, you can only imagine what a mess I’ll be after Part II.
[Photo: Getty Images]