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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

I believe you’re familiar with this particular brew: ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1’

Published: November 19, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

If you knew you would be sitting at a theater and waiting almost four hours for the movie to start, you might be less than thrilled to see the movie, unless it’s “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One.”

As with all of the Harry Potter movies, except maybe the first two, there are scenes cut out from the books I would have preferred to have seen on the screen. There were also a few scenes of events only described in the book, which added, for the most part, to the tone of the movie. There were even scenes in the movie, dare I say it, that were better than the book versions and the seventh Harry Potter book is easily the best of the series.

As the Warner Bros. logo appeared on the screen, a chill ran down my spine noticing a certain visual effect that set the tone perfectly for the story I knew was coming. The Warner Bros. logo was decayed, setting the stage for the dark tone of the story. The first scenes before the plot gets going brought the first tear of the night to my eyes. The special effects were both spot on and disturbing. I was surprised that something so briefly glossed over in the book was able to bring about a single tear.

The two other moments where I cried involved two of the deaths that took place in this movie. One death was near the beginning and one was near the end. Both characters died more heroically and much more epically than in the book. The film, while very dark like the book it’s based on, was able also to keep me heavily invested through the use of comedy. Despite the dark nature, the comedy helped keep me connected to the story throughout the entirety of the 146 minutes of the movie.

Another strong element of the film was the dialogue. Not only did some of my favorite interactions occur word-for-word like the book, but also some new lines that added to my enjoyment of the movie. While in Malfoy Manor, Dobby, for instance, provides what I found to be one of the most entertaining speeches of the series (so far). Even Mad-Eye Moody provides some entertaining lines during the short time he’s on screen. Furthermore, Neville Longbottom makes a cameo that is nothing short of awesome and sets the stage for his role in Part Two.

Characters introduced in this movie were superbly acted. Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) and Xenophilius Lovegood (Rhys Ifans) were right on the mark in terms of how I perceived the characters while reading the book. Scrimgeour (introduced in book six but not the movie) sets the dark tone early on as he attempts to convince the others that the ministry is making progress. He comes off very much as the propaganda master that he is in the books; but it was more the subtle motions and mannerisms of his one interaction with Harry that left me feeling he was cast perfectly. Xenophilius is very much the aloof character I would expect as Luna Lovegood’s father.

It’s worth mentioning again that the visual effects were truly remarkable. One great example of this is the scene with the destruction of the locket. If you have read the book you might get a sense of what I’m talking about when I say that “Harry” and “Hermione” were so good that I was both entertained and disturbed. It was more than just the spiders that sent chills down my spine.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems with the movie. The first problem and, in my opinion, the biggest problem is a major potential plothole. Hermione never seems to pack a painting while they are staying at 12 Grimmauld Place. The problem is that events unfold as though that crucial object had been packed. Maybe this plothole will get resolved in the second half, but the first half ends at a point when the item is no longer important.

Another complaint is one scene I felt was done very poorly: the arrival of the snatchers. While there is more action added to the snatchers’ arrival in the movie, it comes off as if it were merely a coincidence. Additionally this scene was entirely without a music score. While there was obvious tension during the scene, music would have heightened it.

There was only one other part of the movie that really bothered me—Voldemort defiling Dumbledore’s tomb. In the sixth book it is a big deal that Dumbledore is the first headmaster to be buried on the grounds of Hogwarts. While his funeral was not included in the sixth movie, I expected Dumbledore’s grave at least to be done accurately. I was somewhat excited at least to get a small glimpse of Hogwarts before the movie ended. While they kept to the description of what Dumbledore’s tomb looked like, they made its location unclear. It might have been an island in the center of the Black Lake, but it remains very unclear just where it is. The problem was not so much that they changed something, just that they left it unresolved as to whether it was just a difference in interpretation or a full change from the book.

No adaptation from a book is perfect, and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One” is no exception. It may have a few flaws, but for the average viewer and average fan, it’s a great movie.

For the dedicated fans that care about the small details it’s also a very good movie; easily closer to the books than some of the more recent installations in the series. While the movie irritated me a few times, I still found it very well done. Having seen the movie, waiting eight months for Part Two just got a lot more difficult.