|Entertainment Weekly's DH Part 1 Review
|Deathly Hallows: EW Feature & Review
Deathly Hallows: The End is Near
by Sean Smith, Jeff Jensen and Adam B. Vary
Of course they knew it was coming. Yet it wasn’t until the final day of filming that the three
Harry Potter stars fully understood that the most significant chapter of their lives so far was
ending. “Somehow, I wasn’t prepared for how emotional it was,” says Rupert Grint, who has
played Ron Weasley for almost half his life. “It hit home how much it all meant to us.”
After the trio finished their last scenes for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this past summer,
the crew asked them to sit down for a little going-away presentation: A video montage of
images from their decade on set and goodbyes from the hundreds of artists – the makeup and
costume teams, the set decorators and prop designers – who had watched them grow up.
“The three of us were just in pieces by the end,” says Emma Watson (Hermione Granger). “It
was our lives played over on tape, and all these people that we’ve known, in this place where
we’d spent more time than in our actual homes. It was overwhelming.”
Not least of all for Harry Potter himself. “I was sitting there thinking, ‘What am I going to do
without all these people that I love and who love me?’” Daniel Radcliffe says. “I will miss them
all very, very much.”
For tens of millions of Potter fans, the long goodbye will begin this month. The Deathly Hallows,
the seventh and final novel in JK Rowling’s record-obliterating book series, has been split into
two films. Part 1 opens on Nov.19. Part 2 opens next summer, on July 15. (The studio recently
scrapped plans to release Part 1 in 3D, citing quality concerns, but will release Part 2 in both
The cultural and financial impact of the movies has been nothing short of staggering. The
previous six films have earned more than $5.4 billion worldwide, making Potter the highest-
grossing global franchise in history, and have put the series within a wand’s length of
overtaking the Star Wars films domestically.
“It’s so satisfying,” says Warner Bros. Entertainment president Alan Horn, who snared the Potter
rights not long after he took over the studio (which shares a parent company, Time Warner, with
EW) and who recently announced his plans to step down next April.
“Not only has it been good for our company and made a lot of money and all that, but it’s been
a wonderful creative journey. I think we converted the books to film respectfully and honored
The decision to halve Hallows for the screen frustrated some fans, who accused the studio of
corporate greed, but the upside, at least, is that much more of Rowling’s final tome will make its
way into multiplexes.
The life-or-death showdown between Harry and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) won’t happen until
Part 2, naturally, but that doesn’t mean this first installment is sleepy. In Part 1, Voldemort and
his Death Eaters have taken over the Ministry of Magic, and are on the hunt for Harry.
Forced to live as fugitives, far from the protective walls of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and
Wizardry, Harry, Ron, and Hermione must discover and destroy the remaining Horcruxes –
objects that hold pieces of Voldemort’s shattered soul. Friendships fray, commitments are
tested, and Ron and Hermione’s relationship...evolves.
“The emotional stakes are more complex and intriguing,” says director David Yates, who also
helmed the previous two Potter films. “You put these characters in the big, wide world and
have them pursued by people who want to kill them. Suddenly, they seem very fragile.”
The three stars are now heading into the big, wide world as well. They still face another nine
months or so of premieres and press interviews, but their days within the protective walls of
Leavesden Studios outside London, where all the Potter movies have been filmed, are over.
“It has been weird adjusting to not going in every day,” says Grint, 22, the oldest of the bunch.
“It’s been nice, the freedom, but a bit strange.”
For the adults who’ve watched them grow up and now need to let them go, it’s a bit poignant
too. “I’ve known them for 11 years,” says producer David Heyman, who first spied a young
Radcliffe in the audience at a performance of Stones in His Pockets in London’s West End and
thought he might be right for Harry.
“I think they’ll all be fine, they’ve got good heads on their shoulders, but if anything happens,
they know that I will be on a plane or train, that I’ll be there for them. A lot of people feel that
They knew it would end, but now how. The three Potter starts had filmed one final scene
together, but their last shots ever as Harry, Ron, and Hermione would be alone.
In turn, each of them would run and jump into a massive fireplace, vanishing from the Ministry
of Magic via the Floo Network. The fireplace itself would be added digitally later, so they were
running toward a giant green screen and landing on a green crash mat.
“It seemed like the best way to go out, because it was physical,” director Yates said. And
symbolic as well. Free-falling. Taking a leap. “To be honest, I did not get the significance of
that,” Radcliffe says months later, laughing. “Maybe I should call David and apologize.”
It will barely register in the film – mere seconds of screen time – but as their final act, after a
decade of childhood spent in their own ministry of magic, they each ran, and leapt, into the
great green unknown.
“It was really strange,” Watson says. “And then it was wonderful.”
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Under the Influence
We all know the end is near. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -Part 1 breaks the seventh and
final book in JK Rowling’s epic modern literary classic into two movies, and haunting every
frame of this assured and beautiful first half is the knowledge that soon, in 2011, the screen
journey will be over.
I don’t know which had the greater effect: my real melancholy at the thought of looming finality,
or the elegance of this necessarily dark and serious penultimate film, in which characters/actors
we have watched since childhood are now resourceful young adults.
But I do know I felt a swell of love and awe wash over me from the very first wickedly creepy
scene until the profoundly moving last one. Under the direction of David Yates – in Goldilocks
terms, he’s Just Right, having gently guided the series to more consistent excellence in pace and
tone with the last two installments – Part 1 is the most cinematically rewarding chapter yet.
What a marvel it is, this Harry Potter movie business! What a spell the experience casts, now
that every detail is so familiar to us, from the ghostly sound of the signature minor-key musical
theme to the sight of Voldemort’s hideous nose-less face!
All the grand British thespians who bring Rowling’s convocation of wizardly characters to life,
from Alan Rickman and Imelda Staunton to Michael Gambon and Robbie Coltrane, do so with
utterly serious gusto.
As for Hogwarts besties Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, we’ve lived side by
side for so long with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint that their (re)appearance
carries honest emotional weight: We’ve known them since they were kids!
In the Deathly Hallows, of course, Harry, Hermione, and Ron are deep in their struggle toward
adulthood, truly on their own and unprotected, except by one another. (Hogwarts School of
Witchcraft and Wizardry is nowhere to be seen this time.)
The final showdown between the Chosen One (Harry) and the Dark Lord (Voldemort, embodied
with chilling, hairless silkiness by Ralph Fiennes) is still to come. Meanwhile, the schoolmates
are on a continued mission to find and destroy the Horcruxes, those magical bits of his black
soul that Voldemort has hidden in order to hang on to immortality.
The world is an anxious, paranoid place, what with the Dark Lord’s Death Eaters on the loose.
The look of the movie is apocalyptically desolate too – when it’s not baroquely sepulchral, as it
is in the bowels of the Ministry of Magic. An early scene at Voldemort’s dinner table,
surrounded by his senior Death Eaters, is terrifying.
All this takes a toll on Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Or maybe, as Rowling so astutely weaves
into her books, it’s the not-so-magically dispelled fears, doubts, and longings of true adulthood
that weigh the trio down.
Either way, Yates, working with cinematographer Eduardo Serra (Girl with a Pearl Earring), keeps
the picture poised between the gaping future (i.e., Harry’s scheduled showdown with
Voldemort) and the groping present, as the three friends test their adult support of one another.
In one of the movie’s sweetest wordless moments, Harry comforts Hermione. Ron has stormed
off after a fight with Harry, Hermione is sad and troubled, and Harry spontaneously leads his
dear friend in a dance.
The scene isn’t in the book; it’s the rare deviation of an addition to the sacred text, rather than an
unavoidable cut made for Muggle-driven movie purposes. Yet the gesture is so tender, and
such a welcome breath of warmth in such a dark time, that the grace note demonstrates an
integrity I feel sure Rowling would applaud.
This is who Harry Potter has grown up to be: a young man strong enough to love his friends
(including dear, devoted Dobby the house elf; O Dobby!), clever enough to outwit his foes, and
brave enough to face his future.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 also bravely faces the future, slipping with expert
ease among the thrilling mass of complications (and complicated set pieces) that Rowling
throws fans in the final sprint, then guiding the faithful to the fate that awaits everyone in this
world, the moment called The End.
~Reporting for Entertainment Weekly: Lisa Schwarzbaum