Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Deathly Hallows Reprise

Well, it's a bit over-due, but I had to post a few thoughts on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows before it was too far removed.  First of all, cinematically speaking, the movie was (as far as books into movies go) very well done.  For the most part the director followed the story line, the characters were aptly portrayed and a great deal of the imagery in the book was carried through in the movie.  Of course, I must make the caveat that as it goes in theology so it goes with literature: details matter.  Theology is in the details.  Good story telling and movie making are in the details.  Details make the books what they are.  Harry Potter's world like Narnia and Middle-earth thrive on the detail, or what Tolkien calls the writer's work of sub-creation, a world with the inner consistency of reality based upon the primary world.  And though Rowling does not often get credit for this, she has mastered this concept well with her use of language, story telling, myth and fantasy. 

So, if there was one detail I was looking for in the movie - and there is - it's the headstone of the Potter family in Godric's Hollow.  Now, this is pivotal and essential in the books.  And again for the most part, the movie highlights the importance of this scene.  They slowed down the pace, the camera focused on Harry and Hermione in the church's cemetery on Christmas Eve, carols were sung in the background and they uncovered the tombstone of James and Lily Potter, murdered by the dark wizard, Voldemort.  (fwiw, I wrote about this in a little more detail prior to the movie in a segment called The Horcrux of the Matter).  And this is the one detail I would have included in the movie.  It's not much.  The essential quotation - The last enemy to be destroyed is death - from 1 Corinthians was there.  But, it would have been great to have seen a few seconds of a zoom in, Ken Burns style, onto the passage.  That would have bumped my movie review from a 4.5 pretty awesome to 5 stars and never looking back.  It's anyone's guess as to the reason it didn't happen.  And while it's a tragic detail to miss, it gives one an opportunity for catechesis, which is exactly what it was in the graveyard for Harry.  Hermione had to explain to him what it meant.  In a sense she was catechizing him on the hope of the resurrection, also another huge theme in the books.  Do I expect Hollywood to do all that?  No.  I'm no dreamer, but a small zoom could only have made a great movie even better.

If you want to hear a very well done and more detailed review, check out this one from Pastor Richard Stuckwisch on Issues Etc. a few weeks ago: http://issuesetc.org/tag/harry-potter/.

One scene I particularly enjoyed was the treatment of the story of the Three Brothers and how the deathly hallows came to be.  It was quite well animated and it illustrated the other important plot of this final book.  That was a detail they got right.  A detail that also was found in the graveyard not too far from the Potter's headstone in fact.  But for the rest of the story - details and all - we'll have to wait until this summer for Deathly Hallows part 2 or just read the books; it's good for you and then you can be a detail dweeb like me and Hermione.  And that's all I've got to say about that...for now.

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