I have been reviewing movies for EthicsDaily.com for almost 10 years; one of the first movies I reviewed was “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” I hadn’t read the book, but something happened in that showing I will never forget.
When the camera zoomed in to show the sign reading Privet Drive, the audience applauded with sheer delight. When I witnessed that display of joy, I knew this was no ordinary story.
Now the movie series comes to an end with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” – the first part of a two-part movie. And make no mistake: This is one part of one movie. The book was so large and complicated that the studio decided to make two movies to tell the whole story. It also helps their bottom line, of course.
If you have not seen any of the movies and you see this one, you will be lost. This is a story with many characters and subplots; the uninformed will have a frustrating experience.
The story begins with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) watching his guardians, the Dursleys, leaving their home on Privet Drive. We also see Hermione (Emma Watson) at her home, with pain on her face. She is about to leave for fear of Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Now that Voldemort, the evil wizard attempting to kill Harry, has returned, no one is safe.
This is especially true of Hermione’s parents. They are Muggles, non-wizarding folk, and targets of Voldemort’s extended hate. Hermione casts a spell on them and removes any trace of her presence in their home and lives.
What follows is a slow ramping-up of the story. Voldemort knows he must kill Harry to take over the world because Harry is the chosen one. To aid him in his quest, Voldemort has divided his soul into seven horcruxes. In order to overthrow Voldemort, Harry has to find and destroy them all.
Harry, Hermione and Ron (Rupert Grint), forced on the run, hide out in various locations. All around the wizarding world, snatchers are bringing in people that are considered to be undesirables. Harry is declared to be Undesirable No. 1 and is sought with all the power of the Ministry of Magic and Voldemort’s Deatheaters.
As they hide out, they find more clues regarding the whereabouts of the horcruxes and, most important, how to destroy them. They also fight among themselves even as they wage an almost unwinnable war.
I loved this movie, but I have loved the series. Of all its installments, this is one of the finest. It clearly details the evil of Voldemort and the valor of Harry and his friends. And it is on his friends that Harry mightily depends. Especially Hermione. Ron says it best when he tells Harry they would not last two days without her.
Each installment has grown darker in tone and content. This one offers violence and many scary scenes; it’s really not for children.
But the story does well to remind us that many things cannot be changed. In our world and the world of Harry, death is real and terrible. Evil is real and ugly. And for evil to be fought, people must take a stand. Some of those people die.
The series began with three kids entering a world of magic and wonder. These three, now young adults, find that magic and wonder are not as fun as they once thought. This is a very mature beginning to the end of a wonderful story.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality.
Director: David Yates
Writer: Steve Kloves (from the novel by J.K. Rowling)
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe: Harry Potter; Rupert Grint: Ron Weasley; Emma Watson: Hermione Granger; Ralph Fiennes: Voldemort; Helena Bonham Carter: Bellatrix LeStrange; Bill Nighy: Rufus Scrimgeour; Jason Isaacs: Lucius Malfoy.
The movie’s website is here.