Rewatching The Final Movies: My Experience

So, in order to do Tuesday’s post about what was/wasn’t in the movies, I really needed to refresh my memory about what even happened in the final 3 movies.  (I know for a fact the last time I watched any of the Deathly Hallows movies was in theaters.  Half-Blood Prince I may have watched twice prior to this.)  There were some scenes I remembered, but there was a whole lot I didn’t.

Half-Blood Prince

My initial reaction to this movie was, “This is hilarious!”  I didn’t remember this movie being nearly as funny as it was.  I mean, I obviously remembered the Aragog scene, where Harry’s high on Felix Felicis and he does the pinchers thing, but that was the only funny thing I remembered.

But these actors, they really pulled off the humor in so many way.  A lot of the time it was just little stuff.  Dumbledore wanting to take with him the knitting patterns he read while in the bathroom at Slughorn’s (which is actually from the book).  Harry and Ron racing to the cabinet in Potions class to get the newer book there.  Everything to do with Lavender and Won-Won.  Hermione trying to escape Cormac.

It was just really great to have that humorous element, especially since the last movie was really dark and this one, in the end, is just as dark if not more so.  The levity was appreciated.

And this one was hard to watch at times.  Draco, at 16, is being asked to kill the most powerful wizard in England, the wizard Voldemort himself is afraid of.  It’s a suicide mission.  The Horcrux plot line is, in itself, equally dark and disturbing, the idea that someone would be willing to split their soul into seven pieces just to achieve immortality at the cost of other lives.  And, of course, Dumbledore’s death is a huge blow not just to Harry but to the side of good.

But perhaps the hardest scene for me to watch was where Harry and Dumbledore were retrieving the Horcrux from the cave and Harry had to force Dumbledore to keep drinking the potion.  It induced pain and Dumbledore begged Harry to stop and even became a bit childish in that state, refusing to open his mouth to take more.  It’s perhaps the most uncomfortable scene in the entire book if not the series because it’s the one time we truly see Dumbledore as weak and vulnerable.  He’s been pulling the strings and helping Harry since day one, but at this moment, Harry has to force-feed Dumbledore.  It’s horrible.

Deathly Hallows Parts 1

What I liked about this one was that it allows us to see that normal life, that family and friends, can continue even during war.  Everyone is rallying around Harry to protect him.  Bill and Fleur are getting married.  Tonks and Lupin get married.  Sometimes I think we feel that lives stop during war or during a major crisis but this shows that, while they had to be more careful about everything they did, life does go on.

But it’s also the first time we see what war against Voldemort actually looks like.  He has control of the Ministry and is basically free to do what he wants.  Hogwarts now belongs to the Death Eaters and (as per the book) attendance is mandatory.  Harry is Undesirable Number One with thousands of Galleons reward money on his head.  This is truly a new and dangerous world for everyone.

Even the Death Eaters have new danger.  We get to see in parts of the movie how gaunt, powerless, and broken the Malfoys have become.  Lucius in particular looks terrible.  Narcissa’s one concern is protecting Draco as best she can.  And Draco is clearly conflicted about everything he’s doing for Voldemort.  He claims he can’t identify whether or not the captive brought to him is Harry when he knows it is.  He’s known Harry for seven years now.  One stinging jinx isn’t going to change his looks that much that Draco can’t identify him.

And this is the first time we see what the cost of war really is.  Hedwig.  Mad-Eye.  George’s ear.  Dobby.

Friendships get tested.  Ron leaves the trio in a fit of jealousy and Hermione and Harry are left on their own to figure things out.

But the most disturbing part of the entire movie was the registering of Muggleborns at the Ministry, with the interrogation of whose magic they stole to become witches and wizards.  I had some truly terrifying flashbacks in that moment to Nazi Germany, which I believe was the entire point.  There were some horrible moments watching that where it felt like spiders were crawling beneath my skin.

Deathly Hallows Part 2

The highlight of this movie is, obviously, the final Battle at Hogwarts.  I could expound for days on end why this is so interesting, pivotal, heart-wrenching, and twisting.  I won’t because you know this as well as I do, but I will go into a few things.

First of all, I truly can’t imagine what Hogwarts was like under Snape.  Neville tells us the Cruciatus Curse was being used as punishments and even as exercises in class.  (He was injured after refusing to perform the curse on first years.)  For someone like McGonagall, I can’t imagine what she must have gone through, watching this all happen.  She’s so strong that I don’t know how she could watch all of this happen without snapping.  I truly believe she only stayed to protect the students.  And just before the battle starts, when Harry comes forward and Snape raises his wand to Harry, I believe that’s the moment McGonagall decides she’s had enough.  That’s why she jumps in front of Harry.  She’s taking a stand.

But I think she followed that up with a mistake.  A running theme in this story has always been to treat everyone equally and with respect, whether they are house-elves, giants, goblins, muggleborns, blood traitors, or heroes.  Dumbledore, Hermione, and Harry all seem exceptionally determined to do this.  And once Snape runs, one of McGonagall’s first orders is that the Slytherins should be sent to the dungeons, away from the fight and where they also can’t interfere.  Everyone cheers.

After reading this series again, this doesn’t sit well with me.  Sure, the Slytherins are infuriating.  They’ve been making snide comments all along, many of their parents are Death Eaters, and these students probably flourished under Snape’s rule.  But…to whole-hog remove all of them to the dungeons without seeing who may actually want to fight against Voldemort seems…prejudiced.  True, some of them might lie and attack other students when they have a moment, but I can’t help but think that some of them would help defend Hogwarts.  It’s their home too.  Perhaps, like Harry and Dumbledore, I like to think the best of people.

And the cost of war becomes even more heartbreaking in this one.  Lupin.  Tonks.  Fred.  Lavender.  Snape.

But I’ve always kind of thought that, besides Harry, the real hero of the day is Neville.  For the whole school year, he’s been doing his best to protect those at Hogwarts.  He’s been fighting back in his own way.  And during the battle, we see him as a leader.  He stands up against Voldemort and says that yeah, they may have lost Harry like they’ve lost so many other people already today, but Harry’s spirit is still with them and they will keep fighting.  If Harry’s the heart of this fight, Neville is the soul.

I think I cried through much of the second half of this movie.

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