In a little over a week, the first part of the final installment of the Harry Potter series will hit the theaters. Called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, it will debut on November 19. The second part will be released in July 2011.
I’m eager to see how succesfully the last Harry Potter book is brought to the big screen. The books have been a world-wide phenomenon, of course, but the movie adaptations have been interesting in their own right. How do you take an enormously successful series of books and bring those characters to the big screen? What parts of the plots will hit the cutting room floor? Can the silver screen version capture the mood of the book?
In the case of the Harry Potter books, the last question is crucial, because the mood of the books grew increasingly dark as the series progressed. In the earlier books we learn, usually in light-hearted, humorous fashion, about things like Quidditch, and newspapers where the photographs move, and how the world of wizards manages to co-exist with the world of humans. In the later books we learn of how Voldemort unforgivably separated himself from the rest of the sorcerer’s world in his quest to become the most powerful wizard in the world, we discover that Dumbledore was possessed of his own foibles, we see Harry fighting with his dearest friends, and we witness death and destruction on a grand scale.
Only after Harry and his friends are plunged into despair can they experience the ultimate triumph over Voldemort and his minions. Will the film, in deference to its youthful audience, shy away from realistically capturing the grimness that gives the ultimate resolution meaning? (And how will it visualize the classic train station scene between Dumbledore and Harry and the wretched, sniveling creature there with them?) These are the kinds of questions that make a movie told from a familiar story worth seeing.