Friday, November 19, 2010

MOVIE: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS


HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART I is a shocking surprise. It is absolutely gorgeous to look at, and the decision to turn the final book into two movies turns out to have been brilliant. What I at first thought was merely a greedy ploy to prolong the life expectancy of this cash cow of a movie franchise, and thus lead to no good, has resulted in a carefully told, beautifully shot and edited work of some subtlety, words I haven't applied to a Potter film, ever.

The film is one of sustained tension, as Harry,Ron,and Hermione take off in search of Horcruxes (pieces of Lord Voldemort's soul)in order to destroy them-- and him. There is a palpable eeriness and melancholy, a quiet, broody atmosphere that has insinuated itself into every frame, every sound, like the fascist tentacles of the Dark Lord that now have a stranglehold on the Ministry of Magic. The original music by Alexandre Desplats is haunting and the special effects staggeringly beautiful-- not to mention scary to the bone. Director David Yates and cinematographer Eduardo Serra have framed our young, weary wizards in shots that resonate with the expressive beauty of still life paintings. The film takes its time and doesn't get bogged down with exposition. There's time to re-absorb these characters, now older and more complicated; Emma Watson in particular has grown considerably as an actress. There's time for a little dance here, a tender moment there, so when the action sequences come, they are explosive and frightening, and again, thrillngly beautiful.

I saw it with one of the world's premiere acousticians, with a sound system of his design: Theatre 6 at THE AMC FRAMINGHAM. He had not read the books, but could follow the plot easily. Moreover, the sound was superb; we could hear the faint tinkle of bells, a whisper of wind just before the calamitous whoosh of death eaters trailing smoky plumes across the sky. And sometimes we heard nothing-- like the collective holding of breath just before the next jolt.

Jolly good time. Can't wait for HP7 Part 2!

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