Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

directed by David Yates

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 poster  
At long last the creators of the Harry Potter films have made a film, or rather two films, long enough to do the subject matter justice. By splitting The Deathly Hallows into two parts we dispense with much of the plot-slicing and shoehorning that made the middle films so unsatisfactory.

Grey skies and black costumes set the tone. It's the colours of despair, to match the mood as Harry's nemesis Voldemort rises and begins to take power. His Death Eaters have infiltrated the Ministry of Magic and now no-one feels safe. They are turning the ministry into an instrument of oppression and using dementors to keep people in line.

The director has chosen to emphasise the parallels between this story and the situation in Europe before World War II. Black-uniformed Snatchers patrol on the lookout for mudbloods, whilst witches and wizards who fail to fit the pureblood criteria are relentlessly persecuted. The anti-muggle propaganda is similar in style to some of the pre-war posters, and for anyone who knows their history the anti-Nazi message couldn't be clearer.

However nothing is obvious any more for Harry and his friends. Harry wants to protect the people he's close to, and he feels guilty every time they're put in danger due to their closeness to him. Yet the struggle is about more than one teenage boy, however famous a wizard he may be, and sometimes he has no choice but to rely on his friends to survive. On top of this conflict fighting the dark lord is no straightforward matter.

Rufus Scrimgeour (Bill Nighy) brings Harry, Ron and Hermione three seemingly useless objects that they've been bequeathed, and these set them on the path towards finding the remaining horcruxes that they have to destroy to break Voldemort's invulnerability. This search also leads them to investigate the legend of the Deathly Hallows, a story about objects that allow their bearers to defy death. Not only does Harry have to destroy Voldemort's horcruxes, he also has to race to keep these powerful objects out of the hands of the most evil wizard alive.

The Weasley family's capacity for bringing out the absurd in any situation and Harry's ungainly dancing add touches of humour to the movie. Dobby the house elf also makes an appearance, as does the grumpy Kreacher. Kreacher's scene is something of a fudge because he was cut out of the earlier films entirely.

There are a few cases where you need to have read the books to appreciate all of the references, for instance when Bill Weasley (Domhnall Gleeson) mentions the scar on his face. The film isn't indecipherable if you haven't read the book, but there's definitely more in it for readers to enjoy.

There's a lot of hiding out in the woods, and an emphasis on Ron's insecurities and his underlying jealousy of Harry. It's a film that turns up the emotional dial to 11, and those emotions are mainly sadness, paranoia, and mixed feelings about the building romance between Hogwarts' most mismatched couple.

Obviously since this is Part 1 it doesn't end with much of a climax. But there's a lot of depth in this movie, and an intensity to many of the scenes that will make it satisfying for a slightly older generation of Harry Potter fans who may want something grittier than quidditch and Bertie Bott's beans.

23rd November 2010

Film Details

Year: 2010

Categories: Films


Classification: 12

If you like this, try:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire cover    

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by Mike Newell
Harry discovers the joy of Yule Balls. The fourth film in the Harry Potter series.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban cover    

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Alfonso Cuaron
Will Harry's third year at Hogwarts see his worst fears realised?

The Tales of Beedle the Bard cover    

The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J. K. Rowling
These fairy stories, mentioned in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, have been told to young wizards and witches for centuries.

4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson
Read more about David Yates

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