By Susan JAMES
On film, it has been a long journey for Harry and for us, from 2001’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” to the final act of J. K. Rowling’s mythic drama, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2,” opening this week. Together with their on-screen characters, the tenacious trio of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione) and Rupert Grint (Ron) have grown from engaging children to nuanced actors. The power of their performances, particularly Radcliffe’s, is apparent in the final confrontation between good and evil that turns the mysterious hallways and hidden rooms of Hogwarts School into a raging battleground for control of the magical world.
Part 2 picks up where part 1 left off with a triumphant Voldemort (the menacing Ralph Fiennes) taking possession of the Elder Wand and a wounded but determined Harry meditating on the grave of his fallen elf friend Dobby. Harry is still on the trail of the remaining horcruxes whose destruction will leave Voldemort mortal once more. He now knows that another horcrux is locked away in Bellatrix Lestrange’s well-guarded vault in Gringotts Bank. On the advice of a Gringotts goblin (the versatile Warwick Davis), the trio gains entrance to the bank by disguising Ron, hiding Harry under his own invisibility cloak and using polyjuice potion to turn Hermione into a Bellatrix look-alike.
From here, the rollercoaster ride never stops. A breakneck chase in the underground caverns of Gringotts is followed by an escape on the back of an angry dragon, a narrow brush with pursuing deatheaters and a secret tunnel back into Hogwarts. Harry finds himself at the head of a ragtail army of teachers, students, animated statues and angry parents come to defend the school against the forces of darkness. For those who have read the book, the film follows the plot with inventive twists and breathtaking visuals. For those who haven’t read the book but have seen the earlier movies, it isn’t difficult to figure out just what is going on.
This is director David Yates’ fourth Harry Potter film and he never loses sight of the fact that the story belongs to Harry. No longer a boy fumbling in the darkness of his own ignorance, Harry finally learns the truth about the fate that mentor Albus Dumbledore envisioned for him. Facing those facts turns his life upside down but Harry doesn’t blink. He takes his courage in both hands and goes forward, reminding us that armies are made up of ordinary teen-aged boys who found their own courage within and used it to take extraordinary action when necessary. Harry has always been a hero but he has also been a stand-in for all of those normal kids in the real world who were capable of greater things than they knew. Radcliffe does him proud.
With Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Harry’s saga is finally complete, ending with a surprisingly touching epilogue on Platform 9¾’s at King’s Cross Station. In a larger sense, the story of Harry Potter is timeless and what it tells us about ourselves and all that we are capable of is one for the ages.
See you at the movies!