The Epic and The Heartless In Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows

As I type this, I wager there are ten thousand bloggers reviewing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two. They don’t need any help from me. But I saw it today, and I want to tell you about where the movie made a grave and fundamental error.

You’ve heard the word “epic”, haven’t you? You might have used yourself, once or twice. Watch this trailer and tell me the word doesn’t pop up in your head.

You’ll find very few trailers that match the intensity of this one. It fires on all cylinders. Violins. Chorus. Desperate faces. Explosions. Charging armies! Don’t you get that feeling?

I did. It was running through me like lightning bolts, as I sat down at Carmike 10 in Great Falls, Montana. Don’t get me wrong here. I walked out of there completely blown away. If you haven’t seen it yet, David Yates threw in the fireworks and the tearjerkers, and the result is something powerful that you simply cannot miss.

What Deathly Hallows was trying to convey was indeed epic. We call it “good vs. evil”. We call it “cosmic struggle”. We call it “awesome fight scene”. But somehow none of these can quite capture what it is.

As the lofty music played, and the army of Hogwarts assembled, and Daniel Radcliffe took on a dead serious look on his face, we could feel it coming. A great war, the result of which is so immensely important that it consumes the very being of the heroes fighting it.

But you know what? For all the drama and CGI, it didn’t completely work for me. I sat there, wondering where my soul was. The Battle of Hogwarts was about to erupt, and I couldn’t help sensing that something was missing.

Then it hit me. Who in the world are these characters? I’ve watched these blokes called Harry, Ron and Hermione run around the wizarding world for the whole movie… and I never got in touch with them. They just ran around. There wasn’t much time to catch my breath and get to know them.

The movie begins at Shell Cottage, and from there all these characters do is look grim and plan their next move. I can’t think of a single moment where they do anything else. They don’t say anything or do anything that shows off some little quirk, or personality that we don’t already know about.

In short, there’s no internal conflict. Just external. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it is the internal conflict that makes the external one so much more urgent. Harry Potter has no conflict within himself in this movie; that reduces him to a distant, noble hero, slogging through explosions and dark secrets.

The scene with the Resurrection Stone remedies that a little bit. But overall, Harry has no conflicts within himself, and it takes away from the “epic”. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is still a sublime thing to watch, but the knowledge of how more sublime it could have been dampens my enthusiasm.

Please see it. It’s one of those things you have to see in theaters. And do tell me if I you think I’m wrong. I want to emphasize that this is the movie I’m talking about. Not the books. Incidentally, keep an eye on Lyn Midnight’s blog next week; it’s the books I’ll be guest posting about.


8 responses to “The Epic and The Heartless In Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows

  1. someone doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    • A challenge! My deep thanks, sir. Why do you think I’m wrong?

      • The movies aren’t meant to be viewed in and of themselves. The movies are meant to be viewed as a whole, not 8 single movies, but 8 parts of the same movie. This last movie was merely the climax of the whole.

      • Anonymous: That’s true, and it was vaguely in the back of my mind as I wrote this. But to be honest, those other movies went by pretty quick too.

        Violeta: I read your post before posting this. You and your commenters knocked the ball out of the park. You did much better than I did, and noticed several flaws I hadn’t picked up on. Nevertheless, thanks a lot.

        Thea: Hope you enjoyed it. And I agree wholeheartedly.

        Cameron: I saw them all except for Death Hallows, Part One. You can go ahead and call me stupid for ranting, then, but I can’t get over the fact that a continuation in a series cannot just rely on the previous movies to connect the audience to the characters. Every part of a series should get you deeper into the characters, so you know them deeper than you did before. I wasn’t seeing that with Part Two.

  2. Cameron McMillan

    Let me start by saying that I did not see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” In fact, I haven’t seen any of the Harry Potter movies since “The Chamber of Secrets.” I enjoyed the books a great deal but the movies didn’t appeal to me.
    I’m interested if you saw all the other Harry Potter movies or even if you saw “The Deathly Hallows Part 1?” From your post I get the feeling you have not. But anyway my point is, I’m sure they were relying on the other seven movies for people to connect with the characters. I’m sure when you look at all of them, they “show off some little quirk, or personality that we don’t already know about” enough for a whole movie by itself.
    Now, I’m not really disagreeing with you. I haven’t even seen the movies. But remember that “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” is not a stand alone movie. I would never tell some one to go see it if they haven’t seen “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.” I’m not even sure if I would recommend starting at the end of the series at all.

  3. I’ll be seeing the movie tonight, and I always look for internal conflict. I hope you’re wrong, but I don’t doubt you. Many movie goers will be dazzled into thinking it’s there. Hollywood is very good at that.

    great post.

  4. Oooo, I disagree with the previous commenter, and I don’t know why you thought I’d disagree! I touched on this some in my comments and my commenters did as well yesterday. There was no human element whatsoever. What is more, the ‘love scenes’ were awfully forced. Ugh.

    So I agree completely. Even though I cried my eyes out because while I was watching, I was thinking of the books, the whole experience stunk of missing elements. And the worst was that in their attempt to make this movie into an action-packed and epic conclusion of Harry’s journey on screen, they maimed the whole IDEA of the series. We all know Rowling did excellent characterization. The quirks and motives and agendas and fears of her characters always shone on the page. So why in the world did Hollywood completely disregard this magic?!

    Oops, sorry for ranting over here as well. I just wanted to say well said, Sean. 🙂

  5. Basically think of the entire part 2 as an extended fight scene for the final battle.

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