The wife, our friends, Chris and Alyscia, and I went to see the final installment of the Harry Potter epic last night and to sum it up in a word: magic.
All punning aside, the movie seemed far more mature than the others and definitely had a direction. At no point did I feel like the exposition was taking the momentum away, which I had felt with some of the earlier movies. There was darkness, depression, yet it was filled with so much hope. Love blossomed and allegiances blossomed, and the world changed drastically, but it never felt like the end was near.
In the final installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Return of the King, I remember feeling (both when reading and viewing) that all hope was coming to an end, Gandolf had died, Frodo surely was going to perish, the ring was growing evil though the forces of good were trying to take it to be destroyed, and the sheer number of men vs. orcs, goblins, etc. was worrisome. There seemed little hope, which I suppose is what made it so heart-wrenching and sad. Harry Potter wasn't anywhere near as sad.
Though we've grown up with a lot of the characters in these books and almost feel like we have a connection to them, the method in which the movie went about showing or, at times, detailing instead of showing, these characters' deaths was very glossed over and quick. It focused more on the living than the dead, which reflects what Dumbledore says about never pitying the dead, but to instead pity the living. I suppose the entire book being jammed into such a small chunk of time defeats any ability to truly illustrate the verve of the entire story, all the subplots, and all the exposition, but it did a great job in keeping the important scenes intact, even if it didn't show all of them.
The emotion and the acting, however, was the best of any Potter film so far. Not only has Harry turned into a hero, but Ron is no longer the blathering fool one would expect to make a trite or comic comment; instead Ron and Hermione become heroes in their own right, discover and embrace their love for one another, and display some true acting prowess as they develop and hone their characters to near perfection.
The visuals were also amazing, and while not trying to give anything away, the journey into Gringotts, as well as the battle of Hogwarts itself was stunning. The flashbacks that so often mire movies were also very carefully orchestrated with a sort of half-pastel half-sepia with a touch of sulfuric look to them, which I felt was more accurately reflective of what a dream or memory sequence might resemble.
More than once the audience erupted into applause, and more than once or twice I heard or saw people crying, even those who I knew had not read the books...
Which brings me to the inevitable given the time frame for its release and the latest news out of the bookworld (i.e. Borders' death)--how can a book, a story, or a movie of this magnitude, with this kind of draw and following dictate that books are dead? Well, simply it can't.
Books must live on, much like Harry's world. The industry itself is paralyzed, hurt, injured and, at times, on fire (read: 451) but there is a large population that is still drawn to the epic stories and unforgettable characters, to the struggle of good vs. evil that seems all too real in today's world.
What the world needs, and what the book industry could have used decades ago to increase readerships instead of dwindle them, are authors and books that focus on what is important and affective, not what is effective. We don't need stories like Twilight and teenie "thrillers" that live totally in the drama-filled lives of how many purses should I buy, should I date this boy, etc. or ones that focus on the trite aspects of life, but of those that teach a lesson through demonstration and personal integrity. Harry and the rest of the Potter characters display the characteristics which build strong individuals: loyalty, perseverance, steadfastness, growth, humility, heroism and sacrifice.
We need to instill these in today's youth before Borders becomes the canary in the coal mine for the entire book industry.