This was it. The end of the magic. The finale of an era. The epilogue of the childhood for many hardcore Potter fans who grew up with JK Rowling’s worldwide-selling and extraordinarily phenomenal saga that lasted for 13 amazing years. Forgive me for using an overlong run-on sentence, but I guess it’s only appropriate for Harry Potter.
And the best part? The last Potter installment, reportedly the biggest and most epic picture of the series, offered me more than I could ever imagine.
I won’t waste time describing the details and how everything ends happily ever after, for me, it was the process that matters the most. Harry, Ron, and Hermione, now adults with the mission of saving the world from evil, step up to carry the huge emotional burden as they say good-bye to their own childhood, and prepare to sacrifice themselves if necessary for the greater good. For Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, this was their final chance to show off the magic as they portray the iconic roles that made them household names.
I gotta admit, I wasn’t all that excited after seeing part one of the two part finale. Don’t get me wrong, David Yates is a spectacular director, he gets better and better every time. His innovative approach for handling each of his four Potter pictures always strikes me with awe. I guess “Half-Blood Prince” simply left too strong of an impression for me, as the first part of the “Deathly Hallows” didn’t, for me, quite live up the expectations. Nevertheless, I was pumped to see part 2, after all, this was an essential part of my childhood and I wanted to be there when it draws to a close.
What Yates does is very interesting. Yes, the special effects were stunning. And yes, the story telling was faithful to the book. But what satisfied me the most was how much he understands the film. Let me elaborate on that: Yates is a huge fan of realism, as one can clearly tell the difference from his Potter films to those of, say, Chris Columbus. He doesn’t shy away from showing the bloody and maybe even gruesome scenes that he feels must retain from the books. And because of that, his Potter films are always that much darker and less grandiose than the early installments in the franchise. I guess that can be a drawback sometimes as it sucks out all the magic and leaves a theater filled with seven year-olds crying over a PG-13 movie. But as Harry perfects as a wizard and a human being, we as the audience are growing with him. Sooner or later, he’s got to realize the world isn’t always a little magical bubble filled with fairytales and butter beers, but that he has to act as a responsible young adult and rise to the occasion. I guess that’s what the later Potter films are about, a little gruesome, true, but definitely worth the lesson. And perhaps that’s what JK Rowling was trying to tell us as well: there are imperfections even in the wizarding world.
Yates knows how too much of a good thing can lead to the exact opposite. He always stops before crossing the line too much. In this grand, almost war-like movie, there are no wild celebrations or emotional cheers after Harry defeats Voldemort, instead we see the trio taking a long walk with relief along the severely damaged Hogwarts bridge. The message was clear: the magic world isn’t perfect anymore, but we can always learn to pick ourselves up and rise from the ashes. Of course, there are lots of adrenalin rushing moments, along with a few great laughs and tons of applauses.
I think I even saw a few audience members wiping their tears as the train takes off during the 19 years later epilogue. It really was quite an emotional moment, and nobody knows it better than those of us who grew up with the series. Kudos to the cast and crew, notably Dame Maggie Smith and Alan Rickman, as they owned their parts and made this journey a thoroughly enjoyable experience. And Ms. Rowling, our childhood couldn’t have been the same without you. Most importantly, thank you, Harry Potter, for making me a believer through ten unforgettable and magical years with you.