May 21, 2013
Written by Mark Schumann, Father of Three
Thursday, 02 December 2010 11:30
Each week, the Reel Dad checks the nutritional value of a movie — new or classic — to help parents choose what to watch with their children. This week’s pick is the latest episode in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One.As parents, we are easily touched as we watch our children grow.
Suddenly, at times surprisingly, we notice how a voice has matured, a sense of humor has seasoned and beliefs have deepened even as, of course, we haven’t aged a day, much less years.
Watching Harry Potter grow up before our eyes, as well, illustrates how quickly time passes. He has been a part of our literary and movie lives for nearly 10 years as we anxiously await the publication of each new book by J.K. Rowling and each new film adaptation that quickly follows.
But it took time for Harry to find his cinema voice. At first he couldn’t break free from Rowling’s cumbersome plots and endless galleries of characters to fully thrive as a film character. Only when famed Mexican director Alfonso Cuaron broke away from the page in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban in 2004, the fourth installment, did Harry finally have room to breathe in a film with a visual language all its own. Then, starting with Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 2007, director David Yates reimagined the saga for his own film view, creating a magical movie world in which Harry and his fellow wizards could stretch, grow and become the young adults only suggested in the early films.
With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One, director Yates continues to fulfill the promise he showed in the two previous episodes to give us a dark, compelling coming-of-age tale as Harry, Hermione and Ron leave the Hogwarts nest to confront big world issues, temptations and fears. If this marvelous movie feels at all incomplete, we must remind ourselves it is only the first half of the final story; Yates’ clever movie making makes us hope the months until the final film opens next summer will quickly pass.
This time around, Daniel Radcliffe soars again as the oh-so-grown-up Harry who, as the film opens, displays a touching isolation as he realizes, perhaps for the first time, how serious his destiny may be. As he acknowledges what he may face, and fears the danger he creates for anyone near him, he tries to withdraw from those close to prepare for the inevitable confrontation with Lord Voldemort, again creepily essayed by Ralph Fiennes. Still his friends — the ever-so-faithful Hermione and Ron — care too much for Harry to let him face any challenge alone as the three join together to face new chapters.
Their relationship gives The Deathly Hallows a strong sense of purpose. Yates wisely focuses on the dynamics among these three who have grown up together, learned to accommodate each other’s oddities, and developed strong bonds of friendship and love that can overcome anything they confront. If the early Potter films were, at times, too caught up in being faithful to Rowling to be believed, the real emotions among these finely drawn characters give The Deathly Hallows a firm foundation. How they mature would be compelling from any source; that these characters come from such a faithful source makes them all the richer.
As with any film franchise, Yates wisely gives us nibbles of our favorite characters, from the wicked Helena Bonham Carter to the mysterious Alan Rickman and the warm Julie Walters, as well as carefully inserts flashbacks to images of the younger Harry, Hermione and Ron. We realize, at those moments, how much they have grown as characters and actors as this series has emerged from adapting words on a page to creating visual splendor for screen. And we realize our worlds will be a bit less full when we no longer have a new Harry Potter film to anticipate. Next summer will be here much too soon because, well, time passes too quickly.
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part One
* Content: High. No surprise that, with such rich source material, the script for this adaptation of the first half of J.K. Rowling’s final episode is fully satisfying.
* Entertainment: High. Director David Yates continues to grow as a filmmaker as he relies less on Rowling’s inspiration to fill his screen with memorable moments.
* Message: High. This nutritious film offers many thought provoking messages of the importance of friendship, allegiance, hope and caring.
* Relevance: High. Any opportunity to share quality family experience is valuable; Harry Potter is a movie for the family to enjoy together.
* Opportunity for Dialogue: High. Beyond the popular characters and detailed plot, the messages of the film can prompt thoughtful discussions with children.
(Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One is rated PG-13 for “some sequences of intense action violence, frightening images and brief sensuality.” The film runs 146 minutes.)
4-1/2 Popcorn Buckets
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