*It has come to my attention that I give away too much in my movie reviews, so the asterisk will now serve as a blanket *spoiler alert* from now on.
Ten years, eight movies, three mega-stars plucked from obscurity,not to mention the legion of fans that grew up reading an overnight literary success.
You have to be as dense as Stan Shunpike or living under a rock if you have no idea what I am talking about. (Shame on you!)
Beginning on Wednesday morning at 12:01, the final chapter of the Harry Potter saga opened to rapturous applause and tears all over the world, and I am glad to say that I was a part of it. Having grown up reading the books, lining up at 9am at the local Borders (back when they actually sold books rather than gave them away) and feeling a huge emotional connection to Harry, Ron and Hermione, it was only fitting to venture out on a frozen Tuesday evening to watch the end of an era and the end of my childhood.
An audible “eep” came from my fellow muggles (non-wizarding folk) and I as the Warner Brothers emblem appeared on the screen. It was met with applause and cheers as the cinema filled to the brim, like a steaming hot cup of butterbeer, and we settled in to watch Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part II.
The final two installments see the “boy that lived”, our hero Harry, stepping up as “the chosen one” and accepting his destiny. Before he was born a prophecy was placed in his name stating “neither shall live while the other survives” which pretty much means: he and the evil Lord Voldermort have to fight til the death of one of them and the battle of good and evil will be settled once and for all.
After Professor Dumbledore’s death in the sixth book/movie, Harry and his loyal best friends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger (who are in love with each other but too shy to say anything until a climactic moment in this movie) are hunting the country side searching for horcruxes. These are objects of great meaning to Voldermort in which he placed a part of his soul to guarantee immortality. Destroying all horcruxes will ensure good will triumph and Harry victorious!
Part one saw the destruction of the third horcrux in the line of six (we soon learn its actually seven) with the last part of the soul to be destroyed lying in Voldermort’s body.
The eighth movie picks up where part one left off: Harry mourning the death of the loyal house elf Dobby, yet feeling more determined than ever to seek revenge for the numerous deaths Voldermort and his loyal Death Eaters are responsible for.
Harry and the gang break into Gringotts (the wizarding bank run by goblins) to find and destroy the Hufflepuff cup.
Why, you ask? Well if you haven’t read the books you have every right to be confused! Not once do the characters mention the cup, a chalice that once belonged to a founder of Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry, let alone its importance to the story line. We soon find out that it’s a horcrux and evidently needs to be destroyed, but its significance, which is explained in book six, is clumsily stepped over by filmmakers. However Harry is able to hear the horcruxes whispering, which was not the case in the books, but is an innovative way of covering their mistakes. Rather than back-tracking and creating flashbacks to moments that previously didn’t exist, the filmmakers are able to quickly highlight the link between Harry and the objects and get on with the story line.
Discovering that old Voldy is aware of their plan to capture all the horcruxes, the gang realise that Hogwarts is their next (and perhaps final) destination. Arriving in secret, they are welcomed with cheers, applause and the unmistakable Harry Potter melody pulling at heartstrings in the background; and with it come the tears.
Soon the battle begins at Hogwarts, as the Death Eaters appear set to wreak havoc. McGonnagall, enchanting the stone soldiers to “do your duty to our school,” mutters one of the best lines of the movie, while the teachers are casting protection spells and members of the order arrive to join the ranks and lead the battle.
The children of Hogwarts who have always believed in Harry and trained under him when he established the secret “Dumbledore’s Army” defence against the Dark Arts classes back in year five, are also preparing to fight; the only problem is Harry is short a few horcruxes.
He seeks advice from the Ghost of Ravenclaw Tower and soon discovers the next horcrux in the Diadem of Ravenclaw (another object never mentioned until this point), and soon apprehends the object and destroys it. At this point, Ron and Hermione destroy the intact chalice. After feeling the power of Voldermort’s soul dying, Hermione and Ron throw themselves into each other’s arms and share one of the most romantic and anticipated kisses of all time! The audience cheered and clapped, reminding me that we are all so emotionally involved in the lives of these characters.
Harry momentarily stops to share a tear jerking, heart-rending moment with the ghosts of his parents and two “uncles”, all of whom he has lost. We the characters have lost so many friends and enough tears have been shed to fill the black lake that I wonder if my heart can break anymore. It does, as Harry realises he needs to make a sacrifice and without giving away the ending (okay, maybe a little) he walks to his death.
A battle to end all battles ensues between Harry and Lord Voldermort. The loveable yet unlikely hero Neville Longbottom defeats the sixth horcrux, Voldy’s snake, while Mrs. Weasley battles Bellatrix Lestrange (Voldy’s sidekick) and uses a few choice words that would see her send herself a howler!
Good conquers evil (Warner Brothers movie made from a kids book? Come on!), and we see a glimpse into the future with the nineteen-years-later epilogue giving fans a nice happy ending tied up in a bright shiny bow!
After the epilogue the credits roll and it is done. The lights come on and other fans are hugging and crying but all I feel in an overwhelming sense of finality. It‘s over; no more books, no more movies. Nothing.
I will miss the anticipation for a new movie, the excitement building as the date draws closer.
I will miss the midnight sessions and my subsequent debriefs until the wee hours of the morning with family and friends.
The Harry Potter saga will never end, though; it lives on in the well-turned pages of the books, the images of the actors growing before our very eyes and in the hearts of those who journeyed along, fighting dragons, learning spells and defeating darkness alongside the gang.
If you have read the books there is no question of whether you will see the movie and I am telling you: you will cry from half way in. You will laugh through the tears but ultimately bawl like a mandrake root. If you have only seen the movies, you may as well watch the last one to say you have completed the series, but I implore you to pick up the books and gain a well-rounded understanding of the Harry Potter universe. Like most, I will introduce my children to the wonder and literary genius of Harry Potter (the books AND movies) as it enriched my childhood and charmed my heart.
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Image via IMDb.