I was supposed to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two with a friend on Wednesday, but I couldn’t wait so decided to see it on my own last night. I was really, really excited about seeing the film. I re-read the books again a few weeks ago and enjoyed them, though some aspects of the series I found more annoying than I had previously – perhaps because I hadn’t read the books for a while, and hadn’t read the entire series back-to-back in such a short space of time before. But, nevertheless, I was very much looking forward to the film. And I have to say, I preferred the book.
Before I go on, I want to say that I did actually enjoy the film. There were many scenes I thought were extremely well done: the casting of protective spells over Hogwarts; said spells slowly cracking and breaking; every scene with Professor McGonnagall in (I adore Maggie Smith); Snape’s memories, and especially when he finds Lilly’s body; the dragon; the quality of the acting; the final scene before the epilogue with Harry, Hermione and Ron standing on a ruined bridge; the music; the cinematography. There’s a lot to be said about what is good and well done in this film.
However, there was a lot that I wasn’t that keen on, mainly the amount that they changed. It felt like a very different film to the book, and given how closely most of the other films have stuck to the books this was a big departure.What annoyed me the most was the way all bar the main three characters were treated, especially in the battle scenes. Two things that struck me (and stayed with me) the most when reading the book were Fred and Lupin and Tonks’ death. Fred dies just after Percy is reunited with the family. Percy, who admits that he was wrong, that he belongs with what’s left of the Order and Harry, fighting Voldemort. For the Weasleys to be reunited, and then to be ripped apart again (and the injustice of it being Fred to die rather than, say, Percy) so quickly shocked me. I couldn’t believe that JKR had done it. But as much as I didn’t want her to have done it, Fred deserved a better death in the film than the one that we saw. Likewise Lupin and Tonks. Their relationship was barely mentioned in the film – we only find out about Teddy when Harry mentions him in the Forbidden Forest. They are such an important part of the series, and the way we find out about their death (Harry walking alone, unspotted, through the Great Hall. The Weasleys surrounding Fred, and Lupin and Tonks laid out, together) brings tears to my eyes even now. But we didn’t have that in the film and I’m not sure a casual viewer would even have known who they were.
And speaking of battle scenes, what on earth was the final fight between Harry and Voldermort all about? That should have taken place inside, people watching Harry and the dark lord battle it out, people watching Voldemort die and knowing that Harry had killed him. While I can certainly appreciate the effects, it still felt wrong. Harry is, after all, the hero. And part of being a hero is for there to be people around you to see that you’re the hero. Which leads me onto my next complaint – no house elves! No Gawp! (And hardly any Hagrid – I really did think they weren’t going to include him at one point.) That’s such an important part of the book, especially when you consider the politics we have in the background of the house elves/slaves being inferior to humans. This is clearly most typified in Kreacher’s relationships with wizards and half-bloods, and yet we didn’t even get to see his change of heart and the solidarity that we see in the books between wizards, half-bloods, house-elves and even giants.
I was also disappointed that they neglected to mention much of Dumbledore’s backstory. That aspect of the books was one of the most interesting to me. It made Dumbledore much more of an ambiguous character, and raised lots of questions about his sacrificing Harry to destroy Voldemort. Yes, we get an inkling that Dumbeldore wasn’t all he seemed, but that was from a brother who’s rarely appeared elsewhere in the films and really meant very little.
I really missed the Ravenclaw Tower scene which we get in the book. I really enjoyed reading that and was disappointed that it wasn’t in the film. Plus I thought that the Grey Lady scene was too long for what was, pretty much, the ghost telling Harry where to find the diadem. We could have had that much more quickly – especially as we didn’t get any of the Grey Lady’s backstory.
Essentially, it felt to me like the entire film was purely about Harry and Voldemort, and for me that’s never been what the series is about. It’s about friendship and love and trust and definitely not solely about one boy’s crusade to kill the dark lord (who also hugs people when they join him. Don’t even get me started on that). This is something I definitely want to think about more – I have some thoughts on it, but they’re in that just-being-formed stage – but it’s an important point to me.
All in all I think this film felt too rushed, while Deathly Harrows Part One felt too drawn out. I felt like there should have been a better balance between them, because so much was skipped over in Part Two that really (I think) should have been in there. I’ll probably go see it again, just because now I know what to expect I can probably enjoy it more, but I’m still sad that it didn’t live up to my expectations. I wish they were releasing extended versions on DVD that had more in them than they could manage with the films.