15 July 2011

Last waltz

Last night (or, more accurately, since it started just after midnight, this morning) we took three boys to see the last Harry Potter film. The oldest, now fifteen, went with me to see the first almost ten years ago, on his sixth birthday. That started a tradition which first his cousin, then his brother (now eleven), finally my partner, joined at intervals of a couple of years or so.

We have, in the past, gone to the earliest convenient showing. This time, however, as with the last book, it seemed important to take the last opportunity to experience a collective event ... so, school and work this morning not withstanding, there we were at CineWorld for the midnight première.

The boys, I'm glad to say, thought it was “definitely the best” in the series. Me, though of course I didn't say so (who wants to be the one who spoils the fun?), I am less sure.

Though the books come emphatically first for me, I have always regarded the films as an excellent separate stream which expands their world. This one, based on the second half of the seventh book, though very good in its own right, seemed to me the least of the franchise as a whole.

I can't, at the moment, be sure why that is. I probably won't really be able to start sorting out an answer to that until we have (as we intend to) seen it again on our own. It's possible that the very fact that I find Deathly hallows the best book in an always superb set (I've read it six times now) has, in my own mind, set an impossibly high bar for the film. Or perhaps wearing 3D spectacles (not my own preference; I'd prefer to watch the 2D version; but 3D was part of the experience for the three boys, who were the priority here) took the edge off it for me.

Or, perhaps I was disappointed to see two key moral foci from the book either skimmed over (the debate over what to do with the elder wand) or simply not included at all (Harry's gratuitous torture of Amycus Carrow, in a fit of thoroughly personal rage). But really, this is a perennial matter of judgment. A film maker cannot possibly include more than a small fraction of the content from any novel, never mind one as long and full as Deathly hallows. I could probably find similar omissions from every one of the films, if I was in the wrong mood.

Or perhaps I really, subconsciously, felt that the show was over already, with the final book, and the film was always on a losing streak because it came later and I unwittingly condemned it to anticlimax?

Or ... uncomfortable thought ... perhaps I'm just too old, these days, to cope with watching films which debouch me onto Capel Street in search of a five seat taxi at half past two in the morning.

One way and another, the evidence seems to suggest that I'm probably just a grumpy old sod, and the film deserves a second chance. So, some time in the next couple of weeks or so, I'll go to an afternoon 2D screening and settle down to watch it properly.

  • J K Rowling, Harry Potter and the deathly hallows. London, 2007, London: Bloomsbury. 9780747591054

  • David Yates (dir), Harry Potter and the deathly hallows: part 2. 2011, London: Heyday films.

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