Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (David Yates, 2010)
Director: David Yates
Actors: Alan Rickman, Bonnie Wright, Daniel Radcliffe, Emily Watson, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Gambon, Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton
Screenwriter: Steve Kloves
Composer: Alexandre Desplat
Director of Photography: Eduardo Serra
Editor: Mark Day
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Distributor: Warner Bros. France
Release Date: November 24, 2010
Original title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Voldemort’s power is expanding. He now controls the Ministry of Magic and Hogwarts. Harry, Ron, and Hermione decide to finish the work started by Dumbledore and to find the last Horcruxes to defeat the Dark Lord. But there is very little hope for the three wizards, who must succeed at all costs.
After the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth episode just calamitous which had the merit of reassessing the sitcoms of AB Production on the rise, we no longer expected much from the Harry Potter saga, especially when the announcement was made to give the reins to David Yates, guilty of the previous film and the Order of the Phoenix.
After the judicious abandonment of 3D and the decision to make two films rather than one, as much to iron the viewer at the checkout as not to cut too fat in the novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the first part pending the continuation in 8 months, arrives on the screens in a few days.
And if the author of these lines has not read any of the novels – if you are looking for comparison or to find out if the adaptation is faithful you can go your way – it must be admitted that the promotion campaign for this final chapter was enough mouth-watering.
Effective trailers, a gallery of posters simply sublime in the darkness displayed, is enough to conceal for a time the name of the director and take a closer look at the thing.
And finally, at the exit of the room, one thing is clear: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is, without doubt, the best installment in the saga, after of course the dreaded Prisoner of Azkaban of Alfonso Cuaron, great film and visual matrix for all the suites. But better film than the others does not necessarily rhyme with a great film, and these Deathly Hallows are handicapped by faults all the same quite annoying.
For once there is no lie about what awaits the spectator. Indeed this seventh episode of Harry Potter is probably the darkest of the saga. Black in the image, of course, David Yates taking over the dark fantasy aesthetic printed in the series by Cuaron, but especially black in the subject.
And who says black says, adult. The characters have grown up and had definitely swapped their smiles of amazed children for the mask of despair.
For all the path that has been covered since the beginning of the adventure has left indelible traces, and this is felt in the Deathly Hallows, the new film of the breakup after the 3rd and the 6th. Rupture because the marvelous decoration of Hogwarts is completely abandoned.
The magical and magical universe that reigned there gives way to an extremely dark world while the characters find themselves embarked on a quest that quickly takes on the appearance of a continuous flight.
It seems that the character who died at the end of the Half-Blood Prince, a kind of symbol of good, has left behind a devastated world that Harry, Ron, and Hermione will travel through in what takes the unexpected form of survival. It is undoubtedly the same thing as in the novel but there emerges from HP7 a sense of urgency which sometimes reaches new heights.
So we are surprised to find elements typical of new generation zombie films such as 28 Days Later, in the rhythm and in this feeling of a world where evil can strike anywhere and anytime. Oddly we also think of the Lord of the Rings for this quest for magic objects, the film by Peter Jackson being squarely quoted during a sequence where Harry decides to leave to assume his destiny all along.
But if all this is very beautiful, if we feel some tracks of the narrative finally overlap, if we have the pleasure of finding certain characters, the fact remains that David Yates has a great deal of trouble maintaining the rhythm of his film that ‘it plummets by stretching its scenes more than reason while falling into this dirty mania of repetition, as if it were necessary at all costs to fill 2:30 of film. And besides these already major problems, there is the fact that it is a half-film, and that it is annoying.
Inevitably characters are sacrificed, and as if by chance they are the most interesting, namely Lord Voldemort, Bellatrix Lestrange and Professor Snape who inherit only a few scenes. Everything is focused on the fleeing trio and their ambiguous feelings for each other, and this is a double-edged sword decision.
However, this gives rise to several interesting sequences and precisely very adult in tone, especially on the symbolism of the wand which takes on such magnitude that it becomes a clear and distinct symbol of masculinity and therefore of power.
And to see how these 3 characters evolve, sometimes castrated, sometimes regaining their power, at the same time that they must assume their destiny, turns out to be one of the best ideas of the film. Visually no miracle, David Yatesis still a relatively uninspired director but who has the merit of trying new things.
That said, as soon as he rubs himself against big names like Mel Gibson or Juan Carlos Fresnadillo in sequences of races through the woods, the comparison hurts the English enough which turns out to be only a simple maker and not an image artist.
Unsurprisingly also the entire cast ensures continuity, neither better nor worse, but their development seems natural. As for the newcomers, it is an unnamed pleasure to listen to the score by Alexandre Desplat and to cross paths with Bill Nighy and Rhys Ifans.
We still have to wait a few months to definitively judge the conclusion of the Harry Potter saga but this first part is an excellent surprise. We expected nothing more from David Yates, but he does his job of yes-man very well by delivering the most adult and desperate film of the saga, a rather skillful mixture of epic adventure and deadly urgency typical of a survival.
It’s black, very black even, and it would be excellent if he managed to maintain a continuous rhythm. We get bored sometimes but we expected so much worse. And we imagine the masterpiece that it could have become if Guillermo Del Toro had taken care of it…