The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

A Look Into the Pensieve

with 19 comments

It was one of those days of despair. The cancer was raging uncontrolled in the stomach of my 56 year old father and I can only imagine the agony he felt as he approached death, even though he never showed much of it. It was unspeakable, unmentionable, like Voldemort.

It was one of those days when another part in the Harry Potter book series arrived, unexpectedly. A muggler probably would claim it was the mailman who brought it, even if it was odd, since he already had delivered the post earlier in the morning, and this was in the afternoon. But as my mother told me about it on the phone, I could hear it in her voice. That book was an owl delivery, and it saved that day.

Ten years have passed since my father died. The potions offered by Madam Pomfrey’s colleagues in the muggler world weren’t potent enough to defeat the enemy.

My father was the one who got me started on the Harry Potter series, the one who pointed me to it before it become The Phenomenon. I was in my 30s, and strictly not a child anymore, but he continued a tradition of introducing me to imaginative and capturing books. Just like he convinced me of the magic of Asimov, Tolkien and Carl Barks so many years ago.

He never came to see how the series ended. And somehow this makes it as if he’s still inside it. Still there in a world of magic of wonders, a world that will never cease to exist.

Stirring up memories
The latest Harry Potter movie (or rather the two latest, since I saw both in one night, which is highly recommended; it’s basically one movie cut in half), stirred up the surface of  my own pensieve, the basin of memories. I hadn’t quite expected it to be such an emotional experience.

I was prepared for some eye-candy, astonishing battle sequences, a final, grandiose fight between Harry and you-know-who. And I thought I would feel a little bit sentimental as I was going to take farewell of those characters and actors I’ve been following for so many years.

But I didn’t expect those movies to reach out the way they did, to hit me emotionally, touching on issues about love and hate, life and death. I had never thought that Snape would bring me into tears, but he did. And the dancing scene with Harry and Hermione, an invention by the film maker, was mesmerizing.

It was a wonderful ending of a wonderful series. Sure, there are flaws in the books as well as in the movies, parts and characters that aren’t quite as enchanting as the rest. But as a whole it’s a wonderful work, both of Rowling and of all those who had the quite challenging task to try to transfer the magic to the screen.

Film geeks tend to nitpick a lot, with the result that it sometimes sounds as if they more or less hate a movie they actually love. So I’ll do that a little, just for the sake of it.

One thing that wasn’t convincing to me was the relationship between Harry and Ginny. There’s absolutely no chemistry going on between them as far as I can tell. But it might not be the fault of the actors; it probably originates from the movies. I never thought they were that much of a romantic couple. It was more something that was there, just because it “had to”, in order to make us understand that they actually were getting older.

And I didn’t like the epilogue particularly much. Actually there were quite a few people in the audience (consisting mostly of people who were at least 25 years old as far as I could see, those who grew up with Harry Potter) who started to laugh out loud and I couldn’t really blame them. The actors weren’t entirely believable in their new appearances and it felt just wrong. Until that moment I hadn’t reflected on that HP probably has a target audience that is far younger than me. That felt as a reminder.

At the same time I must admit that there is a certain beauty in the image of the closing circle, finishing at the same point as it all began.

Kings Cross Station, platform 9 3/4. I picture my father standing there, ready to take off to a journey to a far distant place I can’t reach. He was a sworn atheist, but I’m sure he doesn’t mind me thinking it. And if he does – well, he could always send me a howler.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 & 2 (Yates, UK, 2010/2011) My rating: 4,5/5

Written by Jessica

July 20, 2011 at 10:19 pm

19 Responses

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  1. I’m glad to see you back in the blogging business. Missed you.

    I just managed to catch Deathly Hallows Part 2 last night and I’ll agree it was an enjoyable experience. Many moments – the deaths, but also the preparations for the defense of Hogwarts – were quite touching indeed. (Yeah, there were some tears. Sue me.) There were quite a few laughs as well and Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the bridge after destroying the Elder Wand made for a good ending. Fade to black, cue the credits. I was so glad that the Yates/Kloves team had the courage not to include the last pages of the book in the film.

    Except they did. I hated that part of the book for its incredible cheesiness and the awful makeup jobs didn’t improve it one bit. (Alright, they made me laugh – but that is not really the point, is it?)

    I’ll also agree on the Ginny part, but that whole relationship wasn’t very well executed in the books either. It started out alright in 5 but quickly went downhill from there. She might as well not have been around for 7 at all.

    I wonder if this is the actual end of the Harry Potter stretch of my life. That world has been with me for 12 years now and it feels odd to see it end. I suppose it already ended with the seventh book and this is just the grey havens epilogue, but still…


    July 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

    • @Scrusi: It’s nice to see you too!

      I wonder if Yates too realized how lame the Ginny romance thing was, and that’s why he gave it so little attention and time. And I suppose there was no way he could leave it out entirely; that would have been to move away too far from the original story. Kisses of duty, that’s what I would call it.

      It’s been a while since the last book came out, but yes, I think it has been lingering still as long as the last movies weren’t done. Now it’s definitely over. However, seeing it from a brighter side, you can always read it again. I re-read LOTR about every three years or so and been doing it since I was a teenager. Quite a few times. Still enjoyable. I don’t suggest HP will hold for as many re-reads as LOTR, but I imagine a cople of times would work. I’m doing my second round now. The first one I did reading it in translation for my kids. This time I’m reading it in English to myself. Very enjoyable. Unexpectedly so actually.


      July 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      • I’ve already read most of the books more than once and I’ll surely do so again. Oddly enough I don’t seem to own any of them (or gave those away that I did own) but I suppose that makes me an ideal candidate for some sort of premium box set 😉


        July 22, 2011 at 7:58 am

        • I bought a nice all-in-one-treasure box from Amazone at a very low price around Christmas. I love it because the covers are good looking, not anything like the ugly, cartoonish ones that are aimed for children (I think you know which ones I’m referring to.)


          July 22, 2011 at 8:25 am

          • Well, I did just save €100 by not shelling out for the TOR Collector’s Edition, so I suppose I can spend €85 on the hardcover set and still be in the black, right?

            I actually woke up the other night thinking that my (potential) future children might not have a shelf full of books to go though because I tend to buy a lot of audio books these days. Time to fix that.


            July 22, 2011 at 10:26 am

  2. I’ve seen it last week and with some mixed feelings; I’m not the fullout HP books groupie, but I love the films, they’re incredible. The 6th movie (part I) was my alltime favorite and my expectations of the finale therefore very high. It was good too, but somehow left me wanting. I’m not sure why and I think I should really watch both of them in sequence again.

    I completely agree on Ginny and Harry, they never struck me as particularly in love. there are just never any signs or “reasons” given why they actually fell in love or what it is that makes their relationship. Hermione is closer to Harry already.
    Other things that bugged me was cutting the important deaths in the final battle, they are not given proper time and impact imo (Fred, Tonks and Remus – and what about their child becoming Harry’s godson?). I would have expected the duel between Molly and Bellatrix to be more epic too, after all she was such an evil character and responsible for so many deaths. Snape kinda ‘just died’ too…

    I understand the need to save time though; so much had to fit into this film and so many twists needed to be explained to the cinema audience. the multiple flashbacks did interrupt the innuendo for me here and there, but it’s okay.

    The dragon rocked though – and now I’m sad as usual, that such a great serie has come to an end. 🙂 Oh well, here’s to Hobbit hoping!


    July 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    • @Syl: I’m so glad I didn’t watch part 1 as it came out, but waited until now. To me it would have felt like just a half movie. And waiting for ages to see the next part must have been frustrating. It was perfect to see them in one night. I had expected it to hurt a lot on my body after all the sitting on one spot, but actually I felt nothing of that. I think I was too involved in the movies to care or notice.

      About all the deaths that were barely noticable – I think it illustrates a problem that all the movies have: I really think they work best if you’ve already read the movies. Sometimes they’re a bit like illustrations to what you’ve learned from the books. I really love them, but it boggles my mind a little how someone who never has read any of the novels can enjoy them or understand what’s going on. There’s so much that never is explained properly.

      I don’t agree on Snape “just dying”. I actually thought the Snape part was very well done. And quite smart too! I think of the shooting through the glass, which as far as I understand it was done in order to not get a too high age rating for it. Still it manages to feel very real and scary.

      It’s interesting how much they can make out of his part in the movie, while he has very few minutes on the screen. I heard an interview with the director, who said that it was somewhere around five minutes. He really made use of those few minutes I’d dare say.

      And yes, I’m sooo looking forward to the Hobbit! It will be a long wait, but the small documentaries about the recordings are nice apetizers.


      July 21, 2011 at 9:23 pm

  3. You touched upon perhaps my biggest complaint with regards to book vs movie. Don’t get me wrong, loved the movies too, but I really enjoyed Ginny’s character in the books and the budding relationship. It wasn’t one of the major themes though, so I can see why they sacrificed it to focus on bigger fish. I don’t think it was really an issue of the acting so much as needing to streamline increasingly longer books to fit in the popular time-frame.

    I also just about lost it during the last movie when Harry is talking to his parents before confronting Voldemort. I lost my Dad when I was 18 (incidentally also in the midst of reading this series), and what I wouldn’t give sometimes for that reflection mirror or a freak wand accident to let me speak, even briefly, with ghosts.

    Ash and I did the midnight showing, so it would have been somewhat embarrassing had all the young teens around us seen the big, crying Warlock. 🙂


    July 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    • I don’t remember the romance parts as particularly well fleshed out in the books, but then it’s been a while since I read them, and I read most of them aloud, which makes a different reading experience. I’m currently re-reading them in the original language to enjoy them just for myself, but I’m only in part four so far and they haven’t gotten all that far into the romance thing yet.

      I too found the talking-to-ghost-scene very touching. IAnd maybe Harry Potter appeals a little extra to people who have lost a parent.


      July 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm

  4. Love your new place, Jessica! I’ll have an iced tea and a scone, and I want to talk about that white dragon.

    Most amazing and realistic dragon I have ever seen on screen. I was just mesmerized. It’s skin was almost translucent, it’s movements were flawless, and everyone I’ve talked to felt bad for it. When you feel for a computer generated character, in a cast of real characters, you’ve definitely nailed it.

    Also didn’t much care for the final scene, or the “roller coaster” ride in Gringots, but all in all, quite a wonderful final chapter.


    July 21, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    • I honestly don’t think that much these days about to which extent characters are computer generated or not. They just… are. And I figure that’s a sign of that it’s working as intended. We’re living in a pretty fantastic era, thinking of it. So much has happened to special effects over the last 25 years. The risk is that the filmmakers get somewhat blinded by it, putting all the effeorts into those areas and not so much into the storytelling and the characters. But in the case or HP I think they evened that out, at least in those final movies (I wasn’t quite as enchanted by the very first ones, but then I saw them as a parent accompanying fairly young children, and that’s not the same thing.)


      July 21, 2011 at 9:08 pm

  5. A simply lovely write-up. Your personal take on the film is so moving.


    July 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm

  6. I watched the film last night and like Syl it left me a bit wanting.

    For a time I have suspected that Snape actually was Harry’s real father and was expecting a big “Luke, I am your father”-scene (haven’t read the last books in the series). You always hear how Harry has his mother’s eyes but not that much about his father, and with both Harry and Snape having black hair I felt my theory was well supported 😛

    And the wands have always made me a giggle a little – fighting heavy magic battles with a little twig looks a bit ridiculous. I guess the wands are easier to handle than a big sturdy staff, but they do look rather dainty and fairy-like to me.

    All in all, it was a good movie.


    July 22, 2011 at 7:45 am

    • I never thought about the connection in appearance, but now that you say so… Hm… Interesting theory. 🙂

      I couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for HP:s “true” father. He came out as somewhat… pale in the movie, didn’t he?

      I don’t know about the wands. I guess I’m so used to it after having them around in the series for so long, each book containing yet another visit to the Wand shop and long discussions about what material that has been used. The fact that I know so much about them makes them more charming to me than they otherwise would have been. What did feel a little weird though sometimes was the efforts to make them look exactly like laser swords. I guess the younger part of the audience crave for it but to me there were moments when it felt a little bit misplaced. I suppose it’s just the way you have to do it on the screen, thinking about it. A wand can work through invisible magic in a book, it doesn’t make a difference, but as you see it you might want some kind of visual proof that the item is in work.


      July 22, 2011 at 8:31 am

  7. Very good and personal text.

    Your view of the movie compared to mine (which is more of a nitpicking fest) shows that if you have some sort of personal connection it will make the experience much stronger.

    Yes, I probably made a mistake by watching the first movie when it came and then waiting… how long was it? a year… for the final part. As you say, I can see that it is actually one movie. The first is like a long build up but without the pay off.

    Yes, the Ginny-Harry-relationship isn’t really there partly because they hardly get any screen time. It’s all about Hermione, Ron and Harry.

    Hmm, strange, I can’t really remember a dancing scene with Harry and Hermione. That must have been in the first part, right?


    August 27, 2011 at 10:08 am

    • Yes, my personal connection to the story probably adds something to my experience.
      The scene with Harry and Hermione is in part 1 of the final movie, I think. But it’s a bit dim for me; in my head it’s one movie, especially since I saw both parts in one night.


      August 28, 2011 at 7:28 pm

  8. […] 5. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows 2 A worthy end to the series, which brought back some personal memories. […]

  9. […] Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (1+) 2 I was fortunate enough to watch the final HP movie one after each other the same evening, which is how I think they should be watched. I can imagine the frustration of someone watching just part 1 the previous year, ending up seeing nothing but a long build-up. In any case, while the HP movies haven’t always been brilliant, I think they made a worthy ending to the series. Even though they could have cut out the final scene and spare us some giggles. […]

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