by Lois Jones

HARRY Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part I is now showing in English at the Ocimax cinema complex in Palma.
So lengthy is the dénouement of the plot that the final book in the Harry Potter series has been split into two films.
An article in the Majorca Daily Bulletin on Tuesday this week highlighted the fact that author J.K. Rowling had chosen this 7th of the Harry Potter films as her favourite so far.

It is however, the first of the films which does not centre around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and it is therefore difficult to make comparisons with previous productions.

Gone is the reassuring image of the Hogwarts Express steaming northward at the start of term-time. Instead, Harry, Ron and Hermione have to sacrifice their final year at school to hunt for the elusive Horcruxes, the split parts of the soul of the evil Lord Voldemort who threatens to destroy life as they know it.

Because of the extraction of the main characters from their comfort zone, the start of the film, although largely true to the book, felt a little slow. It is as though what had been so long awaited by devotees had disappointingly turned into just another fantasy action film, cleverly aided and abetted by computerised special effects.

Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson maintain their core characters and perhaps stay true more to what Harry Potter fans might expect of them rather than how J.K. Rowling might have wanted their individuality to shine through - with one exception. Is the audience starting to feel just that little bit sorry for Draco Malfoy, so ably portrayed by Tom Felton?

But whereas Director David Yates had triumphed in the sixth Harry Potter film “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” by giving Daniel Radcliffe real direction in his character - as the man, and not the boy, who was finally going to put paid to Voldemort - there was no such major move forward in Deathly Hallows Part I - all the characters have been moulded, the scene is set for the final showdown.

What worked very well on screen though was the travelling that the three had to embark on in the quest to erode the power of the archfiend. The narrative of the book was ponderous as the trio “apparate” and “disapparate” from one location to another but the landscape photography and expert editing smooth over this transition so that audience attention never wavers.

Contrary to critics in British national press however, Watson does not act like a mother hen keeping control of two wayward boys and the story is in no way “eked out” as one commentary read. Everything that happens in the film is of relevance to the ending. A very nice Japanese-style montage related the “Tale of the Three Brothers” which lays the ground for the meaning behind the “Deathly Hallows.” Bill Nighy and John Hurt add their names to a sterling cast list.

VERDICT: a slow start, but builds up to gripping, emotional climax. Very successful even though the scene is locationally very different from the previous six films.


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