Why did I wait this long to post my review of the movie? I assume it’s safe now without anyone crying spoilers on me. I now assume that people have either read the book, watched the movie, or both. It’s really more a commentary on the whole series than it is a review of the last movie. That said, the Part 1 of this last installment was strangely for me, possibly my least favorite of all the 8 movies. For whatever reason, I seemed bored out of my skull. I tried watching it for a second time, thinking maybe I wasn’t in the Potter zone the first time, but I exited the theatre with the same conclusion. I was afraid that I’d hate the last movie of possibly my most favorite series EVER (up there with LOTR and Star Wars, but only the first 3 movies). That said, Part 2 turned out to be one of the most exhilarating in the series. I was on the edge of my seat, even if I know perfectly well what will happen in the end. As always, the movies came pretty close to the images I saw inside my head as I read the book.
The only parts I had a slight beef with are as follows: most glaringly, the revelation of Severus Snape. Somehow the reduction of how major a part Snape played in the Harry Potter story was quite disappointing. For his epic sacrifices to be reduced to a too-fastly edited flashes of vague snippets does his memory a disservice. In the book, the way the revelations unfolded was epic. I had goosebumps finally understanding Snape’s true role in the saga. I just feel that viewers who didn’t read the book might not get the full scope of Snape’s character with that final flashback. Second, the deaths during the final battle didn’t have the same resonance as it did in the book. As minor as the characters were, the book seemed to marinate in the mourning more than the movie did. And lastly, The final hour that Voldemort gave Hogwarts felt more excruciating in the book as the countdown drew closer to the end. Other than those, the movie was perfect pitch.
That said, the whole movie series feels like a gift. Usually movie versions of beloved books tend to dilute the essence of the source. But with Harry Potter, the movies were just as awaited as the books themselves. With the exception of the first two, which felt hollow despite the pomp and pageantry, from the third movie onwards, the films captured the right mix of light and darkness that imbibed the books that inspired them. The cast was essential to the movies’ success. It was lovely seeing the actual actors grow up, as we watched Harry grow up from a little boy to a young man. I’m so happy all actors, with the exception of Richard Harris who died after the second film, kept their roles from beginning to end, especially Dame Maggie Smith, one of my all-time favorite actresses, playing one of my most favorite characters in the book, Professor McGonagall (by the way, I LOVED the part where she owned Snape and took charge of Hogwarts before the final attack). I actually expected a bigger role for the eventual Headmistress. I loved the blurring of the lines of good and evil with many characters — Snape and the Malfoys as not always evil and Dumbledore as not always heroic — because this is how things are in real life. It reflects how nothing is neither black nor white, just many shades of grey.
Of course I could write a whole post on the similarities of Harry Potter and LOTR. The similarities are mind-boggling. The main heroes Harry and Frodo, with their sidekicks (Harry had 2, Frodo had 3), but who had to face the final battle alone. The hero and the villain having a symbiotic relationship Harry-Voldemort and Frodo-Sauron (by the way, both Voldemort and Sauron are referred to as “Dark Lord”), Both heroes had to deal with equally strong good and evil sides, often struggling with the balance of both (Harry in Order of the Phoenix and Frodo when the Ring was corrupting him), Dumbledore-Gandalf (both wizard mentors check out midway in the series but remain pivotal in an otherworldly manner), a huge final battle at the end (both seiges on a castle), Dementors-Nazgul (both robed creatures whose very presence instill horror and joylessness), among so many others – wizards, elves, dragons, giant spiders, don’t get me started. But despite the obvious influences, J.K Rowling made an independent world of her own, and not just an LOTR knock-off. The templates may be there, but the heart and soul are original.
I’m not ashamed to say it, but the Harry Potter series is probably the books that are closest to my heart. They’re not the best books I’ve ever read, but I don’t think I’ve ever been attached to a series as much as I did with the story of the Boy Who Lived. It was the case with me, as I’m sure it is with many fans, that I was Harry Potter. That was me struggling with my insignificance. That was me who was revealed to be special after all. That was me who struggled with the good and the evil within me. That was me who, against all odds, and with the help of my friends, triumphed in the end. Harry was easy to identify with. The need to be special and loved is a primal thirst often left unquenched in many of us. We constantly seek validation through wealth, success, fame, power, good looks, intelligence. Everything we work for and fight for in life are things we fee will get people to want us, accept us, to love us. In the end, at the very root of all our desires, we all just want to be loved. And what better manifestation of this yearning than Harry Potter, the boy loser who turned out to be the one person who saves the world from the ultimate evil that is Voldemort. What we would all give for that kind of validation.
So to J.K. Rowling and her creation Harry Potter, thank you. On behalf of everyone who ever felt unloved, who were bullied because they were different, whose insignificance was their most significant trait, thank you. Many nights I stayed up fantasizing that an owl would deliver a letter to whisk me away to a world where I meant something. Obviously it never happened, but those nights where I stayed up reading those books, where I walked the halls of Hogwarts, were some of my best book nights (yes, I mostly read books at night). The Harry Potter series feels like true love that didn’t last. It was great while it lasted, but it eventually had to end. But like many lost loves, I need to let go. To quote Albus Dumbledore from the first book: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.” Well said, Albus. And on that note, stay well, muggles! Protego Horribilis!