Friday, August 5, 2011

A Good End

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2
Directed by David Yates
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman

The end of the Harry Potter series leaves the world, if not a poorer place, at least a less enriching place. A really good tale of good versus evil — or seven really good tales of good versus evil — with only a hint of the vulgar about it, as is appropriate for something that is (or at least started off as) a children's story, it has generated incredible amounts of money for everyone involved with it, from the author who imagined the world of an English boarding school for wizards, to the studio that bought the rights to produce it, to every man, woman, and child that had anything to do with the final products. 

And now it's over.

Except, of course, that it's not. Thanks to the Mickey Mouse law, and the routine spinelessness of our Congress, this series will continue to generate royalties for a few people and corporations for a hundred years, long after it should rightfully lapse into the public domain. None of the principals will ever want for anything, and maybe that's as it should be; but I for one see no reason why Rupert Grint's great-grandchildren should still be getting paid for something their ancestor did, and was well-paid to do.

But that's beside the current point, which is that this Harry Potter series has given us eight luxuriantly produced and well-acted films, enough to keep the kids quiet in front of the TV for days. 

Some are better than others, of course: the first three films (Sorcerer's (or, in England, Philosopher's) Stone, Chamber of Secrets, and Prisoner of Azkaban) were outstanding entertainment. The next three (Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, and Half-Blood Prince) were less so; their purposes were to advance the conflict between Potter and Voldemort, without resolving it. Had these books been filmed in the traditional Hollywood fashion, those three books would have been compressed to the fourth act, which might not have been entirely bad, but would have been worse. As they are, they are at least spectacular in concept and execution.

The seventh film (Deathly Hallows, Part 1) was a dark, slow drag. It may have been necessary to the integrity of the story, and to the overall richness of the fabric. It's a just shame we all had to sit through it in order to enjoy Part 2.

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