Harry Potter is and always has been a mysterious adventure about bravery and friendship. David Yates’ adaptation of the first half of Harry’s final adventure is appropriately dark and yet effectively draws out these two themes gracefully. Despite my frustration with The Half-Blood Prince, I am glad that David Yates has returned to direct both volumes of The Deathly Hallows. It seems he made a decisive effort with this film to stick to the major plot developments while making few additions. The result is a very dark film set in a very dark world that follows three young people who are determined to make it brighter together.
The greatest achievement of The Deathly Hallows Part 1 is its focus on the relationships between the three major characters. This movie is really more about them and their love for each other than anything else. The most common discussion you are likely to hear from fans of the books concerning the HP movies is how woefully they fail to adequately include their favorite portions of the books. I think this is unfortunate (and impossible), because the movies, though lacking clear artistic direction at times, have largely been a lot of fun. It seems, however, that Yates took note of common objections and made an effort to stick to the major plot developments of the book, his only additions are short scenes designed to illustrate the close friendship shared by Harry, Ron, and Hermione and he made an effort to include elements that were absent in previous books (enchantments and apparition etc.).
It’s important to go into HP movies knowing that the directors are going to take liberties that rub against what readers know about the HP universe. There is actually very little of this in the latest installment and where liberties are taken, if I am honest, they actually serve to make the movie more exciting. For instance, there is far more wand dueling in this film than in any previous film and it is actually quite entertaining. At the very least, the previous HP movies were (mostly) fun to watch and this film is no different. Another addition to the narrative is found in a scene when Harry and Hermione find themselves in a very difficult position and the two break out into very awkward impromptu dance which appropriately illustrated the joy they are fighting to salvage as they face the seemingly impossible task of destroying Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes.
What I loved about this movie was very similar to what I loved about the book: Harry’s previous exploits come together to aid him in his quest to do the impossible and I thought those elements were handled fairly throughout and beautifully in the end. Lessons the three learned in previous adventures and friendships they formed are continually playing a part in their adventures and though the movie ends on a sad note, I thought it ended with a tremendous amount of hope. Harry’s example of self-sacrifice and bravery is emulated by an odd friend who makes for an unlikely hero.
This humble self-sacrifice reminded me of two things that are important for the Christian to remember. First, if we are to battle the darkness of this world, we must do so by dying to self. Second, people are always watching what we do, if we live humble lives of service to others, some of those people might just follow our example as we follow Christ. Much like the world of The Deathly Hallows, ours is a very dark world but by faith and with the help of genuine friends, we can face it with determination.