Fans have dedicated 14 years to following the transformation of an orphan, who once lived in a cupboard under the stairs, to a wizard who saves the world from evil. With the movie franchise, the actors who portray the beloved – and reviled – characters have grown up before our eyes. Like all the previous films, the final chapter of the series was shot at Leavesden Studios in West Hertfordshire, England.
The first scene of David Yates’s film picks up where his previous instalment left off: with a shot of the dark lord Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) noseless face in triumph as he steals the most powerful magic wand in the world from the tomb of Harry’s protector, Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon).
This magic wand can make him invincible. In the next scene we can find Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) struggling with the vast responsibility of stopping Voldemort in his tracks. Do our heroic adolescents have a chance against the dark power?
This is a film about the triumph of the weak. This theme is captured in two most memorable scenes of the film. The first is a marvellous set piece, in which our heroes escape from the vault of Gringotts Bank on the back of a beautifully rendered CGI dragon. The maimed beast gouges out bits of London’s rooftops, as it swoops across the capital’s skyline, before flying off into the wild, free once more.
The second involves the mysterious Professor Severus Snape (Alan Rickman). This episode in a film is characterised by darkness, as we learn of the glowering professor’s faithfully kept secret. Harry looks into Snape’s memories and sees Lily, his mother, as a young girl, making a flower blossom in her hand: the other children call her a freak, and run away.
Young Snape hides nearby.He animates a leaf and sends it towards her. The truth and pain of human relationships are here expressed with an elegiac tenderness that brings a tear to the eye.
Perhaps the greatest triumph of this final film is its ability to overcome the deficiencies of J K Rowling’s writing. Concerning the concluding battle at Hogwarts, many consider it as a “damp squib”. But Yates here transmutes it into a genuinely terrifying spectacle, as bloodied students fight desperately against a horde of screaming black-robed Death Eaters.
Our threesome also do not disappoint. Radcliffe’s erstwhile plankishness has transformed into a heroic stoicism. In one interview the young actor was asked if he could share his memories of reading the final book for the first time. “I obviously loved the seventh book kind of as much as everybody else did.
I was reading it actually at a cricket match because it came out two days before my eighteenth birthday and I was going to a match for my birthday. So I was going around for two days without having read it where everybody else was reading it,” explained the young actor. “So it was a two-day-long struggle to beg not to be told the ending. I did actually manage to do that and then yeah, I remember finishing it on the plane and just becoming very emotional,” admitted Radcliffe.
“I found it to be a very moving book. The epilogue was something that I liked. I know not everybody did, but it was actually something I didn’t have a problem with. It’s tying together all those loose ends. Because the thing is, what people don’t realize about the epilogue is I think that if Jo Rowling hadn’t written that epilogue can you imagine being her for the rest of her life and having to cope with questions about what did Harry go on to do? She has to give something to just I think shut people up aside from everything else, you know, to give some conclusion.”
Grint also succeeded. Now he can do “emotional”, pulling off a big scene in which one of his brothers is slain. In one interview he said that this scene was very difficult for him to do emotionally. “Yeah, in this film it was the first time I really had to be emotional, especially when Ron loses his brother. That was quite a big scene with the whole Weasley family.
It was a depressing scene to do because you’ve got Fred lying on the floor and it’s quite shocking because it’s a character we’ve associated with jokes and mucking about. It’s quite horrible. There have been a lot of heavy, emotional scenes like that,” he explained. He also discussed filming the epic action scenes and battles that will take place at the end of the movie.
“We’ve done a lot already, all the battle stuff. Some of the scenes … all the sets we’ve known for years like The Great Hall, they just get destroyed and become these burning wrecks. It’s quite shocking to see these familiar places get destroyed, but the scenes are going to be really epic.”
He also discussed shooting Part I and Part II at the same time. “It feels like one story. When we started it we were just concentrating on the first one because we didn’t have the script for the second one until quite later, actually. But to me it doesn’t really feel like two films.”
Watson has perfected the requisite winsome, fearful look, panting and gasping with the best of them. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” opens in theaters on July 15. [via The Telegraph, Sacbee and Movie Web]