Last Thursday was the end of an era. I was caught up right in the middle of the craze of Pottermania. I bought the first book in paperback from a Scholastic book order catalog. (Remember those?) I was hooked, seeking out the second immediately and getting the third for Christmas. Goblet of Fire came out six months later. Mom bought me that one, too, but I was only allowed to read it on the bus during our long vacation that summer. The wait for Order of the Phoenix was agonizing but mitigated by the beginning of the movie franchise…and now that’s over. I went to a double-feature of Part 1 at 9 p.m. and Part 2 at midnight wearing my Hogwarts crest t-shirt, went to bed at 3 a.m., and was very pleased.
I wouldn’t say DH2 was amazing. I’ve only seen it once, and that was in the middle of the night, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did DH1 and HBP. I think watching both parts in a row was the best, because I had the previous movie fresh in my mind (as opposed to confusing it with the majority of the book, which is what gets covered in DH1). The second film began exactly where the first left off, which I thought was appropriate when there’s still a lot of story to be told. I felt that it was generally paced okay. The scene where Harry pesters the Grey Lady for information felt oddly slow, but the actress playing the Grey Lady did a great job, so I didn’t mind too much. I feel like the only appropriate place for a slowdown was during the King’s Cross scene, which was fantastic. (A guy in the parking lot as I was leaving said out loud what I had only thought: “Who aborted Voldemort?” There’s graphic reality for you.)
One of the best moments of my HP reading life was when Ron and Hermione finally, finally kissed. In the book, it was perfect: they had just destroyed a Horcrux together, Ron finally shows some emotional growth and that he listens to Hermione by thinking of the house-elves, and Hermione basically jumps him. I understand that they had to recast the moment because there were no Hogwarts house-elves in the movies, but I still missed that important context. A “we almost died, and we might still in few minutes, so OH MY GOSH I LOVE YOU” kiss is still pretty good. (Check out this fantastic analysis. Language warning.)
I am a fan of the movies in general; I think they improved dramatically when they finally got a British director and started having the feel of British movies (from GoF on). I do require in-film continuity, though. For example, in GoF, Harry knows that “Moody” is really Barty Crouch Jr. because he knows Voldemort was in a graveyard without Harry actually mentioning it. However, in PoA, Lupin knows the Marauder’s Map is a map without Harry actually mentioning it. Movie-only fans wouldn’t necessarily know why it’s important that Harry’s Patronus is a stag because they don’t know who Prongs is, and Moony and Padfoot are identified only in very quick dialogue. In DH2, Tonks and Lupin are married, but Tonks gets interrupted before she can tell Harry that she’s pregnant, we never even hear about the baby, and then Tonks and Lupin both die. Lupin mentions his son during the Resurrection Stone scene, but that’s it. Teddy isn’t even at King’s Cross in the epilogue. In the context of the movies, does Teddy Lupin even exist?
All in all, it was an excellent end to a quality film franchise. I appreciated being able to spend that crucial night in the company of other obsessive fans. One person started clapping during the fade-to-black before the epilogue. There was a small group laugh at him (or her, I suppose) when the epilogue title card appeared. Perhaps we knew that Harry’s story is never really going to be over as long as people are still reading and loving it. Yes, Daniel Radcliffe is moving on with his career and will never be Harry again. There’s always animation!