Friday, November 19, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

Harry Potter ja kuoleman varjelukset osa 1 / Harry Potter och dödsrelikerna del 1. GB/US © 2010 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. P: David Barron, David Heyman. D: David Yates. SC: Steve Kloves - based on the novel by J.K. Rowling (2007), in Finnish by Jaana Kapari-Jatta / Tammi 2008. DP: Eduardo Serra - shot on 35 mm, Super 35 - digital intermediate 2K - 2,35:1. PD: Stuart Craig. COST: Jany Temime. M: Alexandre Desplat. AD dept big. Makeup dept big. Art dept big. Special effects dept big. Visual effects dept huge. AN "The Deathly Hallows": Ben Hibon. TS: James Mather. Sound dept big. ED: Mark Day. - Cast descriptions copied from the English Wikipedia:

THE MAIN TRIO who drop out of Hogwarts to find and destroy the horcruxes:
Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter),
Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley),
Emma Watson (Hermione Granger).

Alan Rickman (Severus Snape), a Death Eater and new Headmaster of Hogwarts, who appears to help Voldemort in his quest to kill Harry Potter.
Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange), a member of the Death Eaters and Sirius Black's killer.
Jamie Campbell Bower (Gellert Grindelwald), a dark lord.
Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Harry's half-giant teacher and friend.
Warwick Davis (Filius Flitwick), the charm master of Hogwarts. Davis also plays Griphook, a goblin and an employee at Gringotts.
Frances de la Tour (Olympe Maxime), the headmistress of Beauxbatons.
Hazel Douglas (Bathilda Bagshot), an old family friend to Dumbledore.
Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort), the leader of the Death Eaters, who is trying to kill Harry Potter.
Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Harry's rival, who is a Death Eater.
Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), The main head master of Hogwarts. He died from a Killing Curse from Snape from the last film.
Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), one of Harry's friends.
John Hurt (Ollivander), who sell out magical wands, was recently kidnapped by the Death Eaters.
Toby Jones (the voice of Dobby), the former house-elf of the Malfoy Family, who was freed by Harry in the second film.
Bill Nighy (Rufus Scrimgeour), Julie Walters (Molly Weastley), Fiona Shaw (Petunia Dursley), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Timothy Spall (Wormtail), Brendan Gleeson (Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody), David Thewlis (Remus Lupin), Rhys Ifans (Xenophilius Lovegood), Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge), Miranda Richardson (Rita Skeeter).

150 min. Released in Finland by Sandrew Metronome Distribution Finland with Finnish / Swedish subtitles by Timo Porri (relying on the Jaana Kapari terminology) / Janne Staffans. Viewed at Kinopalatsi 1, Helsinki, 19 Nov 2010 (week of global premiere).

The last Harry Potter novel has been turned into a film in two parts. It is the seventh novel and the seventh film in the hugely popular series. The first ones I saw together with my godson Tommi, but recently I have been on my own. The previous film, reportedly the favourite of J.K. Rowling, herself, I missed. I found the first ones mediocre. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuaron, was better, and even better was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, directed by Mike Newell. The transition from childhood to teenage was portrayed with psychological understanding in that one. One must admire the producers and the actors that they have managed to keep the good main trio together for ten years during their growth from childhood to adulthood.

I confess I'm an outsider in the world of fantasy, and I visit these films as an observer, not as a participant. As I child when I was about eight I loved the Narnia series of books. I read them all, but when I was about to read them again, I found the magic door closed. I missed The Lord of the Rings books completely, I could not find my way into the world of Tolkien.

Harry Potter screenings during the premiere weeks are huge events, and I feel like a stranger. The audience reaction is strong, and there are laughters the meaning of which I completely miss. (But the laughter at the ridiculously chaste love fantasy I understand.). There is an applause after the sinister final images of this first part of the story. (Less than a handful of us stay until the end of the final credits.)

The film is evidently satisfactory for the Harry Potter aficionados. Much of it is surprisingly bleak, slow and of low intensity. There is some affinity with the contemporary teenage vampire and werewolf stories which I don't understand either. My favourite sequence is the Three Brothers / Deathly Hallows animation by Ben Hibon. There is also a funny sequence just before it with good interplay between the main trio. The cast is composed of a "who's who" of British top actors, and the young main trio is very committed.

For me, the overall impression for me is of a strange paralysis, and there is a slight sense of absent-mindedness in Daniel Radcliffe. It may be a conscious expression of extreme confusion.

I'm puzzled by the gray look of recent fantasy cinema. In Avatar, in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, and in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows there is no full, bright colour. There is no feeling of the warmth of sunshine. Might this have something to do with problems of colour brightness in 2k digital intermediates, that bright colour too easily starts to look garish? Or is this an intentional aesthetic decision? Is the look of today's fantasy preferably gray?

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