There were rumors of long, horrible lines and mass hysteria. It would be a madhouse, surely, when the final film was released at midnight. The truth, for my little band of adventurers at least, was that we arrived at the AMC around 8:15pm for our 9pm showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1. There were a couple dozen people, perhaps, hanging about outside, waiting to be able to sit for their midnight showings, but we marathoners walked right in – as we’d been doing all week, and as the single-night experience-seekers (seeing both parts 1 and 2 last night, instead of just the final flick) were also doing – and made our way easily to screen #4. The small room was nearly full, but that had been the case all week. We selected our seats near the front and settled in, not for the first time wishing we were in one of the larger screening rooms (as the single-nighters were, since there were more people interested in that), so we’d have a bit more seating to choose from. Still, we were excited. We’d brought in wands and worn referential shirts and everyone around us was eager to talk amongst each other and share their anticipation. Before long, the lights dimmed, and we all cheered. The night did not disappoint.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 1
For a movie that takes place over several months in which all our heroes do is move from campsite to campsite, a lot of things are accomplished in this movie, and it moves along pretty quickly. I have sentimental attachments to some of the scenes that were omitted, most notably the chapter entitled “Kreacher’s Tale”, but the animated story of “The Three Brothers” is exquisite no matter how many times I see it, and Hermione’s economical narration is haunting. And unlike the previous films, Hermione is really allowed to stand out as the heart of this one. She has accepted the task before them and is prepared and unafraid. She stands up for herself and her friends. She suffers at the hand of Bellatrix Lestrange but doesn’t let it deter her from their mission. And her love for Ron is so pure, so quiet, so deep yet unspoken that your heart breaks for her more than once. The end leaves me in tears again, wishing upon each rewatch that the blade doesn’t find its mark, but last night it also left me excited, because the conclusion was right around the corner. Last-minute realization: I don’t know how many times I’d seen this movie before last night, but it took me exactly that long to realize why the sharp focus on Bellatrix’s hair as it floated down onto Hermione’s “Mudblood” scar was so important: part 2!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2
Anticipation during the break was high. The concession stand lines were clear to the front entrance. The lines for the women’s restrooms were long as well (the men had no lines, of COURSE), but thankfully moved pretty quickly. And the costumes! There were Hogwarts students of every shape, size, sex, and house. There was a Hagrid, a Mad-Eye, a Sirius in full velvet-suited galore, several Bellatrixes, and a girl in front of me in the bathroom line that had drawn a bloody hole on a piece of paper and taped it over her left ear. Harry Potter fans are marvelous.
As part of the marathon package, everyone in my theater got a special pair of 3D glasses that were in the style of Harry’s own specs. We donned them to great fanfare and applause, sat through a painful array of previews (because of the wait, not the content), and then we were on our way. I won’t spoil the movie for you if you don’t already know what happens, but suffice it to say that it’s a very satisfying end – both as an adaptation of the nearly perfect final book, and also as the finale to the film series. If you’re familiar with the book, you may balk at some of the changes that are inherently necessary in film adaptation for the purposes of efficient storytelling and proper pacing and overall visual appeal, but I believe that on future viewings you will come to appreciate the success that it is, just as I’ve come to better appreciate its predecessors. There are, I’m sure you know, devastating moments, and I will not deny that I wept openly at all of them. But there are also moments of great triumph – cue the audience cheers again – and moments that are nothing less than thoroughly gratifying. There are also reminders for us, the fans, that while Harry is gone (there are no more movies to come, after all), he will forever live in our hearts. He will be with us always because he IS part of us, and we are a part of him. Final thought: Thank you, Harry, Hermione, and Ron, for such a fantastic voyage. It was wonderful being part of your world, even for a little while.
And then there were none.