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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One) signals what is, quite literally, the beginning of the end of the Harry Potter saga. After hitting cinemas almost a decade ago audiences have been met with almost yearly instalments chartering Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson)’s academic progression. With David Yates at the directorial helm, The Deathly Hallows (Part One) departs from previous form and, with author J. K. Rowling as producer for the first time, sees its three stars ditch Hogwarts in order to complete a near impossible mission left to them.
Reeling from the death of Albus Dumbledore, whose name is steadily being muddied by the ever-darkening Ministry of Magic, the wizarding community is in a state of turmoil. With He Who Must Not Named’s power infiltrating even the most secure locations (namely Hogwarts) the famous trio must decode the riddles left to them in order to find and destroy the remaining horcruxes (for those not in the know these are namely segments of Voldemort’s soul that placed in selected objects by the Dark Lord himself in order to evade death).
Potter fans will be relieved that the film remains, more or less, faithful to the book. Thankfully the painfully lengthy ‘tent’ passages from the book are injected with energy and offer Harry, Ron and Hermione’s hormones a platform on which to play out. With their friendship tested by the impossible task ahead tensions are being tested which, inevitably, leads to nasty arguments. Whilst the novel’s exploration of Dumbledore’s rather murky history is omitted the film does do justice to the foreboding Malfoy residence whilst the poignant death scenes (yes, death scenes plural) are touching if a little over-played.
Even with the encroaching presence of Voldemort and his supporters the film manages to balance gloom with the franchise’s recognisable lighter tone. Although perhaps unsuitable for very young viewers The Deathly Hallows (Part One)injects humour into even its darkest moments and it has J. K.’s original to thank for most of them (her producing credit greatly benefits the film). Old characters make much-welcomed returns in this instalment with Dobby managing to save the day once again whilst the deliciously evil Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) intensifies her sickly sweet prowess. As well as the old, several new faces make an appearance. Mundungus Fletcher (Andy Linden) finally makes the transition from book to film whilst the great Bill Nighly makes an (albeit brief) appearance in a franchise that capitalises on its high quality British cast.
When Warner Bros. announced that The Deathly Hallows would take the form of two films Potter fans rejoiced. Adapting two films from one book inevitably poses a tricky question however; just where do you split the story? Much speculation arose regarding the subject and the divide chosen upon, although it may surprise some, ultimately works well. The tantalising ending sets up nicely for the next film to carry the story on. Although The Deathly Hallows (Part One) is watchable as a sole effort it relies heavily on the promise of the forthcoming conclusion, set to hit cinemas in summer 2011. Having seen the lead trio grow from school children to international superstars the franchise promises to go out with a bang…
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