It was 2001 when I first reviewed Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for Hollywood Jesus. It was a unique experience because at that time, and still to this day, I hadn’t read the books but I was keenly aware of the controversy in Christian circles regarding the books and the story. I was aware of the criticism of Harry Potter, yet the praise of The Lord of the Rings, both similar in so many ways as to the concepts of story. I have followed the series all along the way, watching young Daniel Radcliffe and the rest of the cast grow up. The story over the years has matured, as has the story and in my opinion J.K. Rowling is today’s L. Frank Baum. While Baum told a remarkable story in The Wizard of Oz series, Rowling has taken the young wizard Harry Potter to a place that had some Christians apologizing for their demonization of the story early on before they knew how the story ended. Many now know how the story ends and they are calling Harry Potter one of the best Messiah figures in movies ever, even comparing him to Aslan in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. We can’t quite see that comparison yet with the latest film, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1, but we can see the set up, and with that set up, we see one of the better films of the series.
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1 isn’t a children’s story. Much like the characters Rowling’s expects that the reader and viewer has matured. We see a dark story, literally in the lighting, with adult themes that have taken Harry beyond growing up, to the concepts of life, death, and sacrifice. The editing, special effects, score and acting is actually quite brilliant. While the overwhelming majority of scenes are dark, the story, and action keep the viewer entertained. I was never bored with the direction as I have been in previous episodes of the adventure. While I haven’t read the books (yet), I have heard from faithful friends that this rendition is actually quite accurate to the book and while many fans were disappointed with the previous film, they were quite pleased with this one.
While there are benefits to the bluray rendition, the scenery is so dark I had a hard time believing it would be much better than the standard DVD. That doesn’t mean one should be wary of the bluray rendering though, there are ample special features, a higher quality sound, and features that are quite nice. Warner Brothers has done a very good job packaging the product and it includes on one version a digital version, standard DVD version and the bluray version.
Another aspect that has to be commented on regarding the technical nature of the film is the quality of acting and the continued effort at providing spectacular special effects. As stated earlier, the actors here, especially Radcliffe and his band of friends have truly matured in their skills. They were always good, now they are exceptional. They are so good in fact that the three primary characters of Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) are in virtually every scene, not having anything overshadow their ability by the likes of a supporting cast including exceptional actors such as Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter.
One of the draw backs of the film is one must be familiar with the story enough to know what is going on. That requires either reading the books, or watching the previous movies. The movies and story have held up though and it is easy enough to watch the films and not feel short changed in any way. The direction provided by David Yates has the story flow nicely. One of the concerns I had with the film was that it would end abruptly since the last book in the series is actually broken up into two movies. That wasn’t a let down though as there is a good place to end the story in anticipation of the final chapter of the series.
As the Harry Potter story has moved along, the spiritual overtones are plenty and can’t be ignored. Recently while watching Rowling on the Oprah Winfrey Show she spoke of her own Christian beliefs and the influence that had on the story itself. After seeing this feature, I am pleasantly surprised at the spiritual applications in the story. From a sinister dark character that resembles Satan and even uses as one of his tools a serpent we see a battle between good and evil. We see the importance of how light penetrates darkness, all symbols significant to Christian beliefs. We even see a symbol that mysteriously mirrors the symbol of the Holy Trinity. The symbol in the movie represents three important characteristics in the battle soon to be engaged in by Harry Potter. We also see in Harry Potter an individual who can cross worlds, but has a purpose in life of providing salvation, not just for wizards and witches, but humans.
Ultimately, the only thing missing is the sacrifice of one’s self for others, but I am also reminded that the story is not over. There is more to come, and more that I expect out of Harry. The use of witches, wizards and so forth is where many have found fault with the series, yet, I see the story as Fantasy, much like The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings. In many ways, the redeeming values of friendship, the need of salvation, and the sacrificial love provided by a savior is vividly portrayed in the latest episode.
I especially liked Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, more so in fact than anticipated. It is a wonderful story, with redeeming value, well told, well filmed and very entertaining. The special features on the DVD are outstanding and for the fan of Harry Potter, alone worth the cost of purchase of the DVD. I highly recommend the bluray version but the editions with additional special features are well worth the cost.
In closing I would also recommend the following links in regards to the latest rendering of Harry Potter.
J. Allan Sharrer Article - http://live.hollywoodjesus.com/?p=647
Mike Furches 1st review, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone - http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/harry_potter.htm
Mike Furches, Harry Potter and the Half-Blooded Prince - http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/dvdDetail.cfm/i/1D5D3A2B-A98F-2697-81717D5A025ED7A2/a/1
Hollywood Jesus Harry Potter Links - http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/searchResults.cfm