July 13, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (UK 2011)

It may come as a surprise to some of my readers but over the years I have become a big Harry Potter fan. I usually don't like fantasy films and blockbusters very much but those films were always "special" to me. The last Harry Potter film was therefore a particularly emotional experience which is why I decided not to write a conventional review but instead a letter to Harry that I had delivered to him personally by Hedwig...

Dear Harry!

When I entered the movie theatre today to watch your final adventure, the first miraculous magic moment happened before the show even started. In the background the cinema played a song that I instantly remembered from my own teenage years in the late 90s: Puff Daddy's "I'll be missing you". It was the perfect expression of how I felt at this very moment. This bittersweet sentiment accompanied me the whole evening and even now - a couple of hours after the film - I still have a feeling of emptiness knowing that this was probably the last time I saw one of your films in the cinema. It also fits perfectly that right now there is a thunderstorm going on outside.

But in moments like these, it will always help me to remember the good times I had with you. I vividly recall the places I saw your films and the people I saw them with. But when I start thinking of the future I am afraid - although I hope I will be proven wrong - that I will never again feel as excited about a movie release as I used to get when a new Harry Potter film was coming out. In anticipation weeks or even months before the theatrical release, my excitement peaked at the moment the increasingly dark Warner Bros. logo appeared on the screen and the opening chords of the soundtrack set in. My inner child will probably respond to it forever when re-watching the films at home but still, it will never be the same again...

The same way you carried a part of Voldemort in yourself you were a part of me and my life - and that part is now missing. Over the ten years that we took this journey together, myself and the whole generation that grew up with your films formed the kind of intimate relationship with you and the other protagonists that you usually don't have with movie characters. Not even in way more realistic films. Even though I am a few years older than you, it still feels as if I have experienced my (slightly delayed) adolescence along with you. The innocent times were sweet but now they are finally over. The time has come for both of us to finally grow up and face not just our demons but also the responsibilities of adulthood. 

But why, you might ask yourself, did I relate to you in the first place? 

First of all, I could absolutely understand what is like to live within a world of ordinary mediocrity that does not appreciate "magic". Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to attend a school like Hogwarts where those abilities were discovered and encouraged. Our education system promotes studiousness and conformity as opposed to excellence and natural talent. Thus, I often felt like an outsider during my school years while at the same time I always sensed I had a lot of potential inside me. I could also relate strongly to the friendship you had with Hermione and Ron. For me, friendship is what the films ultimately were about and I fully believe that good friends can help you through the worst of times. 

Another thing that I particularly liked about the films was the unique world they created. A world full of wonderful details (I would love to try that butter beer!) that was a dream come true for a nostalgic person like myself. A world of candle lights, books and traditions. I have a bit of an aversion to modern technology which is why I dislike many of the other big Hollywood movies where special effects have now priority over characters. With the Harry Potter films, it was always the other way round. The effects were fun but they were only means and never the ends in themselves. As we learned from Professor Dumbledore, words - along with love - are still the most powerful form of magic.

As far as your last film "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part Two" is concerned, I start with the things that bothered me a little. The 3D presentation was too much of a distraction and basically superfluous. So was the Epilogue - as faithful as it may be to the book. There was also too much violence and too many action scenes for my taste. (I never liked the action scenes in the films much anyway - I always preferred the quiet, intimate scenes the most.) 

But nevertheless the final film is very satisfying and constitutes a worthy ending to what is now officially one of the best series in film history. And not just because it is the last film, it may be the most emotional of them all. The tone strikes a perfect balance between entertaining and dark scenes, there are some great moments and revelations and many of the great cast members are finally united. In short, it is somehow a "best of" of all the previous installments.

It is getting late. The moment has come for me to thank you, Harry. You made me laugh, you made me cry, you enchanted and inspired me. And for that, I shall forever be grateful.

Yours very truly,

your dear friend and spiritual brother


My very last Harry Potter movie ticket

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