With “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I,” the Harry Potter journey is almost over. And while none of the individual films seem destined to take their place in the annals of cinematic history as all-time greats, taken as a whole the series has been quite remarkable.
Aside from the characters, there is very little in common between the first film – “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” released almost a decade ago – and the newest entry in the series. We are now familiar with Harry, Ron and Hermione, and we know what is going to happen to them (I say that because I think it unlikely that anyone who hasn’t read the books is going to bother trying out the movies). “Deathly Hallows” doesn’t need to spend time on character development, because these characters have been fully developed. They are not children anymore, though they’ve had their childhoods stolen from them. They have faced adversity together, and sometimes that adversity has threatened to tear them apart.
The tone in “Deathly Hallows” is dark; even in the celebratory moments like Bill and Fleur’s wedding, disaster lurks right around the corner. And in the end, Harry, Ron and Hermione must go off together in order to find the answers to the nightmares that lurk before them. The first part of “Deathly Hallows” tells the story of that journey, in preparation for the final confrontation yet to come. It is a movie of moments, none greater than that moment (which I don’t believe appears in the book) when Harry and Hermione set aside their cares for just a moment, and share an impromptu dance. Danger and tragedy have brought them together. But in that sweet moment, you see that they have not lost their humanity.
The movie ends abruptly, which should come as no surprise to anyone. But it accomplishes everything that it sets out to do – setting the stage for what should prove to be a compelling finale.