Screened at Harkins • 3rd Viewing
The first act of Deathly Hallows Part 1 has maybe the best momentum in this franchise since Prisoner of Azkaban. David Yates’s action sequences here feel nearly as fresh as they did in Order of the Phoenix, although not nearly as visually gaudy as them, but rather so conditioning themselves into a more murky and Jason Bourne-esc aesthetic in hindsight of the grittier tone. Very early on, the story also brings back the Nazi regime allegory that has now become far more present in this franchise than ever before with the Mudblood racism being the crux of propaganda in Voldemort’s army.
As the movie progresses, however, I think it gets weaker and weaker, but not enough so for it to be anti-entertaining cause boy does it surpass Half-Blood Prince in those regards, but just in its sudden change of pace and furthermore its rushed finale. This to me is the most contrasting Harry Potter movie from all of the other ones; it features that classic “finding happiness through distraction during times of crisis” theme going on, which gives it a lot more breathability and space compared to the other Harry Potter entries, yet this utter tone of hopelessness too for what these young people have to do in order to be okay with the situation at hand as they become obsessed with the names of the deceased that are constantly listed off as they hide from this outside bloodshed blanked from their vision. The narrative also essentially forces Harry to trace back his entire life beforehand in connection with Voldemort, as if this first parter was meant to be some sort of recap anticipator for the finale that is Part 2. The lack of having a mentor is felt well in this movie not to mention too, and the use of Harry’s shattered mirror constantly relays this. The exposition dump of the Tale of the Three Brothers has always been a personal favorite segment of mine because of its charming animated book-tale qualities and how it ultimately provokes itself into the modern narrative of the war at hand.
There is another trend though that I’ve begun to pick up on since Year 4, being that almost every one of these movies has to end with someone dying quite dramatically, and I feel like the final death in this one was a bit of a tacked-on service to add more emotional tragedy to the film’s drama; the plot conveniences get super noticeable too during this climax, as well, which doesn’t help it feel any less last-minute than it already does. Deathly Hallows Part 1 may have the least complex plot out of all the films to me, and I think that’s sort of why it has been a win or lose situation for most hardcore fans of the franchise. Nonetheless, I personally think it is one of the better movies of the darker entries, but I do think it’s exhilarating first act sort of sets the rest of the film up for a moody subversion that’s likely not going to resonate with some audiences. I can’t help but kind of appreciate it though.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” is now available to stream on HBO Max.