David Yates’ “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” is a completely unique installment into the Harry Potter series. By leaving behind the silly antics of the previous films, and instead focusing on the darker themes of the saga “Deathly Hallows” is a fantastic introduction to the inevitable dark conclusion of Harry Potter.

The theme throughout “Deathly Hallows” is the sense of impending dread as dark forces are assembling, and Voldemort’s influence over the wizard world is steadily increasing. The Minister of Magic is removed and a puppet government replaces him under the command of the dark lord himself. Meanwhile, Harry must return to his mission of finding the rest of Voldemort’s horecruxes, and destroying them so that he can finally defeat Voldemort once and for all. If you had no clue what the last sentence was referring to, then it would be wise of you to watch “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” before trying to dissect the complicated storyline of how Harry plans to defeat Voldemort. In fact, the filmmakers make no attempt at making “Deathly Hallows” stand on it’s own as a film without much need for background story. This is good news for fans, since the movie doesn’t spend precious time explaining obvious things so that the non-fans are able to follow.  

David Yates, who directed the two previous installments, does a better job than he did in “Order of the Phoenix” or “Half-Blood Prince”, because his style is less suited for a lighthearted Hogwarts setting, but in darker territory as in Deathly Hallows. And it truly is a bleak situation our three heroes find themselves in. The story is that five more horecruxes needs to be found and destroyed before Harry can finally face Voldemort (a horecrux being what gives Voldemort eternal life if he were to be killed). The problem is that Harry has no idea what or where these horecruxes are, and he has no way of destroying them. Also added to the problem is that the Ministry of Magic has labeled him “Undesirable Number One”, which means he has to stay in hiding at all times. It truly is a bleak situation our heroes find themselves in.

The new Ministry of Magic is also turning increasingly dark as it’s now become a militant organization who views muggles as inferiors, and Half-Bloods as polluting the pure Wizard/Witch blood. The parallels it represents to the rise of facism is impressively well done, as Half-Bloods are hunted down and imprisoned for being inferior beings, and muggles are killed. It gives Voldemort a more menacing personality since his masterful villainous plan isn’t to destroy the world, but transform it in his own twisted image.

A lot of people asked “is the split of the book into two movies justified? Or was it just a financial calculation?” The answer is without doubt that this story could not be told in one movie, and so the split is entirely justified artistically. At a running time of 2 hours and 30 minutes, it feels far too short, even though it only covers half the book. One of the best things about the book is that the pacing is very slow and it takes it time in telling the story. If I have any problems with the movie, it is that the pacing is a little too fast and many of the central themes of the book are not tied into the movie. This will perhaps be solves in the next installment due out this summer. But trying to fit all of the book into one movie would have resulted in an incomplete finale, that just wouldn’t do.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the best installment since “The Goblet of Fire”. It presents us with a bold, bleak reality without any of the regular Harry Potter cuteness. Sure it has its comedic relief moments, but Harry Potter has grown up, and the stakes are now higher than they ever were before. The end is within sight, and it’s looking pretty good from here.

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