> Interview: Matthew Lewis
"These are dark times", says Minister Of Magic Rufus Scrimgeour (Nighy) at the beginning of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 1. And he's right. As we enter the penultimate instalment of J.K. Rowling's mesmerising universe, it's very clear times have changed since we first met a newly magical Harry Potter back when he was seeking a Philosopher’s Stone. Gone are the merry feasts at Hogwarts, shopping excursions to Diagon Alley and thrilling Quidditch tournaments. Instead we have snatchers, muggle murders and dementors casting their gloom across Britain as the Death Eaters attempt to purify magical society and Lord Voldemort (Fiennes) searches for the powerful Deathly Hallows.
The story sees Harry (Radcliffe), Ron (Grint) and Hermione (Watson) continue their dangerous quest to find the Horcruxes (pieces of Voldemort's soul that hold the key to his life and death) - but a crackdown on traitors and mudbloods, not to mention the Death Eaters taking control of the Ministry Of Magic, mean they are forced to go on the run as they try to decipher three clues left by Dumbledore in his will that might help their mission. While it's probably fair to assume that a majority of viewers will have read the books, for those that haven't things could become a bit confusing. Furthermore, at just under 150 minutes it's a long ride with much of the focus on the trio as they traipse from location to secluded location to avoid detection while not a lot else happens action-wise. Nevertheless, the extended time spent together in the wilderness is never boring and it allows us to really appreciate the chemistry and closeness of the trio (and also their real-life counterparts) and how they have matured since their big screen debut.
Ron and Hermione's developing romance - a highlight in the books - continues to flourish here with a series of sweet interactions (her teaching him piano, him brushing a stray hair from her face) that remind you of friends you know should be together but neither wants to take the first step. Harry's own relationship with Hermione is also beautifully portrayed, demonstrated by a touching sequence together in Godric's Hollow and a moment when Harry tries to encourage Hermione to dance with him after they suffer a loss. The trio are also given ample opportunities to showcase their own individual qualities and strengths. Ron stands out as he battles to adjust to the reality of living on the run, fearing for his family's safety and his jealousy of Hermione's bond with Harry. The titular hero shows that he has transformed from the wide-eyed boy of Philosopher's Stone to a grown man on a mission to save the world he loves. Meanwhile, bookworm Hermione is no longer concerned about acing exams and shows her vulnerable side in a sentimental opening segment wherein she says goodbye to her old life.
The overall style and look of the film has also matured to reflect the storyline under the third-time guidance of David Yates. Subdued colours, barren landscapes and frequent fade-to-blacks after ominous words have been spoken only increase the feeling of oppression and doom in the air, although Yates has once again managed to masterfully insert enough comedic elements at appropriate moments (think Daniel Radcliffe in a bra!) to not completely overwhelm the audience with despair. Nevertheless, the impending and unavoidable clash of good versus evil hangs in the air and the horror element of the movie has been stepped up significantly. The full terror the Horcruxes is once again unleashed in a spooky sequence featuring the RAB locket, while Malfoy Manor - the prison-like headquarters of Voldemort - provides a welcome new location and allows some semblance of sympathy to develop for Draco (Tom Felton).
At the end of the day, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was always going to feel slightly incomplete and like any movie it has its good points and flaws. Taking the characters out of their familiar environment of Hogwarts does mean beloved characters such as the ever-reliable McGonagall (Maggie Smith) and is-he-or-isn’t-he-evil Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) are overlooked this time around. As the first part of a two-fold finale, the movie also has the unenviable task of setting up an explosive final instalment and, like Half Blood Prince before it, battling with the fact that many viewers will know the ultimate conclusion. That being said, the decision to split the book in two means many fan-loved moments that would otherwise have been cut are kept in and it gives us at least another year to enjoy the Potter franchise before it comes to an end for good and we have to find another series to fall in love with. Even the studio's decision to axe the 3D version at the last minute doesn't matter here as Deathly Hallows: Part 1 definitely whets appetites for the final outing as it builds to a stunning climax tinged with sadness and anticipation about the inevitable battle between Harry and Voldemort which will conclude next year...
> What do you think of the movie? Share your views