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The Boy Who Lived--Forever

Never judge a book by its movie. This statement has been true of many a beloved print series turned film and is no less true of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Generation Y has fallen in love with the magical world painted in those pages. It is no surprise that the movies have won their hearts as well despite their discrepancies from the novels. The latest movie in the series to be released is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, and there has been much debate about whether or not it is as good as the book. While variations in opinion prevent this question being answered, the movie can be judged based upon accuracy of storyline, recreation of mood, and viewer response.
Picture a teenager sitting in a dark theater, heart fluttering as the opening credits appear on the screen. The all-too-familiar theme music plays, softly at first. She sees her first glimpse of action—the Minister of Magic speaks to the panicked public, Hermione erases her parents’ memories, and the Dursleys finally leave Harry alone. She braces herself for Dudley’s most significant line in the series: “?I don’t think you’re a waste of space’” (Rowling 40). It never comes. This was a small but significant point in the book; it reveals that, on some level, Harry still has a relative that loves him. In the movie, instead of these beautiful parting words from his cousin, Harry receives absolutely nothing. The Dursleys don’t even wave goodbye (Harry). This is not the only detail glaringly absent from the film. The real Harry Potter and Hagrid are supposed to land the flying motorcycle at Tonks’s parents’ house before traveling by portkey to the Burrow (Rowling 63-64). Instead, and probably for time’s sake, the pair go straight to the Burrow along with the six other Potters and their escorts (Harry). While a tried and true Harry Potter fanatic might find these inaccuracies distracting and bothersome, they are not so detrimental to the overall plot that they lower the quality of the film as a whole.
While it is crucial to adhere as closely as possible to the original storyline of a book to win over an audience of avid fans, it is equally essential to capture the mood of the book as a whole through casting, music, and visual effects. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have all become brilliant actors throughout the course of the series, becoming “capable of nuances of feeling that would do their elders proud” (Scott 2). In the scene which Ron is splinched during a narrow escape and hasty apparition, the emotions that Hermione experiences are almost entirely implied. Other than an emphasized “?Quickly!’”, the reader is given no insight into the internal anguish Hermione is feeling as Ron bleeds to death in her arms (Rowling 269). In the movie, however, Miss Watson is able to portray the intense emotions of the character with one complex and multilayered look as she raises her blood-covered hands to create a magical shield around herself and her beloved friends (Harry). This remarkable bit of acting adds depth to Hermione’s character and pays beautiful tribute to J.K. Rowling’s masterpiece.
Another mood-setting tool used in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is the impeccable soundtrack. There is no denying that the seventh installment of the series is dark, and the music mirrors this flawlessly, “[constructing] a haunting, spooky sonic atmosphere” (Scott 2). The use of minor keys and haunting instrumentation adds dark undertones even to the lighter scenes, such as when Harry asks Hermione to dance in an attempt to get her mind off of Ron’s absence (Harry). The film would simply not be whole without its score.
Finally, probably the most intriguing and striking visual effect in the movie was the animation of the tale of the Deathly Hallows. This “lovely animated sequence” adds an almost sinister dimension to the film (Scott 2). The monochromatic color scheme used draws from the darkness in the plot, the smoky transitions are reminiscent of the preferred means of transportation of Voldemort’s Death Eaters, and the character of Death himself underlines Harry’s, Ron’s, and Hermione’s greatest fears. All of these characteristics of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 work together to capture the essence of Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and to add yet another facet to the jewel that it is.
Viewer response to a film version of a favorite book is always varied, and often times these mixed feelings cause its ultimate failure. In the cases of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Golden Compass, the films have failed to make enthusiastic audiences out of loyal readers (Scott 1). This, however, is not the case with the “Potter” films. After six movies, the series is still going strong with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 earning a total of $227,500,641 thus far (“Harry” 3). There is much to be said about gross earnings as an indicator of a movie’s success. Nevertheless, there is no more adequate proof of a megahit than the exclamations of “Epic!” and “That was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!” erupting from the mouths of the audience as they exit the theater, except perhaps their awed silence as the end credits roll. Both such displays have taken place in theaters nation- and world-wide. Thus, it is safe to say that, in spite of its differences, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is worthy to bear that beloved title.


Works Cited
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” boxoffice.com. 2010. Boxoffice. 4 Dec. 2010. <http://www.boxoffice.com/statistics/movies/harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-part-one-2010>.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. Dir. David Yates. Perf. Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson. Warner Bros., 2010.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007.
Scott, A.O. “Time for Young Wizards to Put Away Childish Things.” New York Times 18 Nov. 2010. 28 Nov. 2010. <http://movies.nytimes.com/2010/11/19/movies/19harry.html?pagewanted=all>.





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