Orange Wednesday this week treated us to the final instalment of the Potter institution and if you were hoping to stumble upon a completely unbiased review, then you are have taken a somewhat disappointing detour. The phenomenon has indeed come to its end, and boy what an end! The climactic film conclusion of Rowling’s series has done her, and the armies of fans, perfect justice; a wonderfully dark adaptation with all the right notes carefully and precisely hit.
For me it was the best Potter cinema experience I have ever had – however, not merely due to the melancholic sculpting of the final piece. When was it now the book was published? 2007? Its a few years ago now and it was read the week it was released, in such a flurry and flash that the finer detail did not sink in. In fact, I was shamed to admit that I hadn’t a clue as to how the story ended (other than the twee final chapter). Certain aspects had stuck in mind, particular deaths and specific descriptions, but nothing that I could firmly state as plot. This is no criticism of J.K., no, no, simply that I swallowed the book in such a gulp that not much had chance to cling on tight. Regardless though, the back rest to my seat was never going to get much of a warm, as the tension kept me firmly teetering on the edge.
It was a wonderful farewell, with nods to previous books delicately placed. There were moments when sentiment threatened to eek into a more prominent role, as our long loved characters made long, pensive and determined looks into the middle distance as they attempted to defend all that we hold so dear. But it was a perfect last HOORAH to the great and good of British film. For those who have STILL to give in to the franchise (firstly, shame on you!) surely the adult cast should tell you all you need know – it reads like a veritable Who’s Who of British cinematic gentry; Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Julie Walters, Jim Broadbent, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham-Carter etc etc etc are all given their moments to glimmer and shine through the fairly heavy duty action sequences and green tinged clouds of doom. When the cast is as huge as this no one person can steal the scene; these almost montage-like reminders of major characters manage avoid becoming saccharine, did not appear too precious but almost a patriotic fist punch in the air, making you want to shout, “Yeah! Take that bad guys! The British are coming!” It does indeed make you feel very proud to be part of this country. I am half expecting the image of Lord Kitchener on the ‘Your Country Needs You’ posters to be replaced by one of Julie Walters, hands on hips, lips pursed and brow furrowed – possibly still sporting Kitchener’s tache!
In fact, it makes you feel proud for having been in this from the beginning, having fought the good fight with Harry and done a good job for ignoring all the hugely dislikeable things about him and (sadly due to woodenness) Daniel Radcliffe. It has always been, for me, his ensemble which carries him through and the richness of character around him (I worry that I am in danger of being more in love with Neville Longbottom’s nerdiness than ever before!). In my head he is still a bit of a wimp who, we may have forgotten, used to live in the cupboard under the stairs. When I am reminded of this fact and the kitsch living of the Durlseys, I realise just what a journey books, films and fans have been on. From that very first, babyish concept, something incredibly wonderful has blossomed. The books, almost single handedly, rejuvenated the children’s fiction market and inspired a whole new generation of children’s authors. But had they stayed in that twee land of ‘happy endings’, no remarkable rise would have followed. It is the age and development, fear and darkness which threads its way ever deeper in the tales which has caused this phenomenon, created that hook onto which so many millions bit. Utterly incredible. And this final chapter is a very, very fitting tribute to all the great things which have been accomplished due to J. K. Rowling.
If you have never watched a Potter then I urge you, borrow a box set quick and get up to date. No one who claims to have connections to children’s education or literature in anyway can allow this to pass – this is the last opportunity to see this film as it was meant to be seen; a cinematic sized celebration of a culture changing franchise. Ignore flash-in-the-pan addictions to vampires and werewolves, it is THESE books and THESE films which have allowed for growth in ‘dark’ fiction. Of course if you are interested in Potter, even in the remotest sense, I will not have to persuade you. I do not feel the need to critique the film in such a way as I understand that the choice to view is a foregone conclusion; no one can stay with the story this long and casually dismiss the last two hours and ten minutes.
However, it would not be a standard blog post if I did not complain about something. But it is not the fault of the film, in anyway. It is the same complaint I have about the book – a detestable last few pages which no amount of heavily coiffured hair, pearl earrings and faux beer bellies can ease. In case there are still some unknowings out there (how do you manage to avoid such things? Specialised communes?) I shall not reveal, just appreciate that I find such a ‘book end’ a little insulting to the reader’s intelligence and a sad dampening of imagination after such a glorious ride. However, I appreciate why it is done, but I shall never re-read this section.
So, Deathly Hallows Part One and Part Two have finally come to fruition. A masterpiece in my mind for it combines all that I require from a story’s end; Hope. Tinged with great sadness. And knowing that it is now all over adds to that overall feeling; complete, yet sorrowful for nothing so special can be known again.