Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Harry Potter: It is Finished

I watched Deathly Hallows 2 on my widescreen last night with my pal Bill (and Molly the WolfDog) via Amazon streaming. Second time around, having seen it in the theatre.

Though I slogged through volume 1 of the 8-book series and never continued reading, I have really loved the movies. Seen all of them at least a few times and often more.

My favorites are the first (Sorcerer's Stone), the third (Prisoner of Azkaban) and this last, the second part of The Deathly Hallows. It has been a pleasure watching Harry, Hermione and Ron grow up over these ten years.

Richard Harris' death was a big loss; Michael Gambon's Dumbledore never managed to match his gravitas.  But although species prejudice is a major theme in the story (magical vs muggle folk) and the cast is racially mixed, it never got into any pc boredom about either color or gender, a great relief.
I don't often notice these things, but Emma Watson has become a very beautiful young woman.

And speaking of women, the gender relationships and roles in the books represent an almost serene equality between the sexes, where males and females are distinctly themselves, with all the classical attractions, repulsions, crimes and gifts, but no one seems either to suffer for it or benefit from it to the other's detriment. No wonder it's a world of magic!

The plot of Part 2 is great, engaging, thrilling, visually arresting, full of surprises. In the finale, we get to see the backstory which makes Alan Rickman's Severus Snape so fascinating a character.

Ralph Fiennes' Voldemort was perfect (and major kudos to the make-up and clothing designers.) He was classically Augustinian: here the Dark Lord's powerful evil and Tom Riddel's depressive emptiness were never separate.

The epilog is genuinely moving and puts a simple but profound cap on the long story.

The technically stunning computer-graphics are gorgeous, even when they're depicting evil. Unlike Avatar, where they try to conceal a pathetically banal story and cartoon characters, here they make a great story and great characters even more gripping. The Battle of Hogwarts has real shock and awe. The score throughout, by all its composers, has come to seem inseparable from the story.

With a much more universal and humanly-grounded moral and dramatic vision (the series primary action is set in the years 1991-1998) this parallel British magical world is more satisfying and inspiring than the narrowly tendentious bad-humor of Pullman's His Dark Materials.

Some religious people have found the magic and wizardry threatening and although Rowling is a Christian, the series has never felt like a CS Lewis tale. If anything, more like the embedded but muted Catholicism of JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Until the end, where Harry's confrontation with death in "King's Cross" shows open similarities with the ancient story of Jesus and his destruction of the powerful Elderwand echoes the Gospel stories of his Temptations.

The whole series is a great achievement of imagination on JK Rowling's part and the movies have lived up to her gift. I am sure I will watch them many more times.

All in all, it's been magical.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...