“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is pure undiluted magic

If you’re the kind of person who queues up at midnight to buy a book (and then stays up all night to read that book), then you’re the kind of person who queues up at midnight to watch the movie adaptation (and then prays they don’t cut out your favorite parts). Such is the life of Harry Potter fans everywhere; for though we’ve been blessed with book-to-film adaptations like the world has never known, we’ve all lamented the fact that a 900-page book has to be condensed into a 200-minute movie.

And then along came Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.

When Warner Brothers announced that it was splitting JK Rowling’s final novel into two films, cynics booed and hissed about having to buy two whole tickets. But fans — real fans — everywhere threw up their arms in victory and shouted "hurrah!" because finally.

I was among the mass of Gryffindor scarves and Hufflepuff ties last night at midnight, and when the final credits rolled I have never been so happy to be awake at the witching hour. I don’t know if there’s a better way to say this, so — MERLIN’S BEARD!

One of the most frustrating things for me about Potter films is always the pace. Don’t get me wrong: I love the movies more than I can express, but for the last three films, it’s like ten minutes into the movie we were already on page 300 of the book. But this time, everything unfolded with the gravity and angst of Rowling’s actual manuscript. I was crying as soon as Hermione Obliviated her mum and dad!

I also worried that David Yates wouldn’t be able to properly portray the the drawn-out days and sleepless nights and mounting frustration Ron, Hermione and Harry felt as they trudged through Britain with no real purpose, just trying to stay alive. But what he created in the wandering was fluid and visually stunning. (Deathly Hallows is to Wales, Scotland and England what Lord of the Rings was to New Zealand.)

And let’s talk about that trio! Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Dan Radcliffe have always been surrounded by the most iconic actors in Britain, and the films have leaned heavily on those adults and CGI shenanigans. We’ve watched the three of them grow up, and grow into their characters, right before our eyes. And to finally, finally see Yates rest the full burden of the penultimate film on their shoulders, and their shoulders alone? I’m not sure I’ve ever watched anything more satisfying.

The real magic of the Harry Potter books was always the strength of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s friendship. And that shines through in Deathly Hallows with breathtaking clarity. The chemistry between Watson, Grint and Radcliffe is nothing short of perfection. (And oh, how they’ve grown as actors! When Bellatrix was torturing Hermione, did you not come unglued?)

There are so many ways I can praise Deathly Hallows Part 1, but I suppose the highest praise I can give is to say it captured the essence of Rowling’s novel: the unbreakable bond and enduring love between Ron, Hermione and Harry; the whimsical British sensibility and sense of humor; the terror of intolerance; and the pure, undiluted joy of losing yourself in a story.

I would have gladly stayed in my seat in the cinema to watch part 2 at 3:00 a.m. — if only I didn’t want the magic to last just a little longer.

What did you think of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1?

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