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Book to Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

If you’re the nerdy, devoted type of Harry Potter fan who can take this quiz and score over a hundred, you’re probably the kind of person who was at a midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 on Thursday, November 18th. And if you’re anything like me, you were, possibly for the first time since you started seeing Harry Potter movies in 2001, really impressed.

Part 1 was really, really good. I’m glad they decided to split book into two movies, because that meant the movie could spend just a little more time with the characters, instead of rushing from plot point to plot point, trying to cram everything in. That’s not to say the movie won’t be confusing to a casual fan. A friend who’s read the books just once confessed that he spent most of the two and a half hours more than a little lost (he also said, “I want to see Part 2 now!”). The seventh book is so dang confusing anyway, however, that (sorry, casual fans) I think that’s to be expected.

The real payoff of the two-movie scheme is that it gives director David Yates time to linger just a little longer in the non-action moments. The heart of the series’ charm has always been the friendship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and Yates spends his extra moments exploring the characters and the relationships between them. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint carry the movie. They’ve all grown immensely as actors, but Grint’s Ron steals the show (and my heart – I love a redhead!) with his spot-on comedic timing and plenty of sweet, longing glances directed Hermione’s way. Yates plays up some Harry/Hermione romantic tension that was never in the books—let’s be honest, we all knew from Book 1 that Ron and Hermione would end up together—but it’s pretty subtle and easily ignored if you’re not in to that kind of thing.

I liked the quieter moments, yeah, but the action scenes were awesome too. The best thing about action scenes in the movies, as opposed to the books, is that you aren’t torn between reading ahead to find out what happens and reading slowly to make sure you don’t miss any details—you’re stuck in the action with the characters, no skipping ahead allowed. I could hardly breathe during a protracted chase scene where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are fleeing through the woods with Snatchers hot on their heels. The opening action sequence where Harry and Hagrid soar through London in a flying motorcycle involves some great stunts, including Harry hanging from an upside-down sidecar. The Godric’s Hollow scene, where Bathilda Bagshot turns into Voldemort’s serpentine side-kick Nagini, had most of the theater cowering in our seats.

The whole film is the strongest Harry Potter movie yet. It’s gorgeous, with beautiful special effects and on-location filming. My favorite part of book-to-movie adaptations is seeing the author’s world come alive in every detail, and the movie does a great job with Harry’s world, from Dumbledore’s floating, unfolding will to cavernous rooms at the Malfoy mansion. Even at 146 minutes, Part 1 doesn’t feel long. My biggest complaint is that we have to wait until July to see the final chapter!

–Emily Calkins

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