I am (obviously) a huge Harry Potter fan They are some of my favourite books of all time, and they reside on my “shelf of honour”, the books that must be re-read each year. I am sure just as many other fans had the same trepidation I had when they first announced the movies.
I was correct, in the case of the first four movies. Admittedly Azkaban was not a bad movie, but I really dislike how Alfonso Cuarón portrayed the Dementors as wispy, floating ghoulish creatures. This has carried on into later movies and I will still not buy into the vision of a floating dementor. They glide, and there is a difference. I will not even rate the first two movies. And the depiction of Voldemort in movie four horrified me. Voldemort does not dance around like a madman. Voldemort is a cold, calculating creature who does not flounce. Yes Fiennes, you were flouncing. I own all of these movies of course. I enjoy them to a mild degree. But that is all.
Now when I read there was a new director for Phoenix who had not done any big feature films before, I started to feel hopeful. David Yates was British and had mainly done television dramas and this was his first big feature film. I went to see it with Craig and Mel, and I’m not sure Craig was quite as excited as Mel and I. He did, however, joke that all the best British directors had done The Bill at some point (as Yates had)
Well, the film surpassed my expectations. All of us, even Craig who is not a Potter Maniac, loved it. I left the film feeling like finally someone had understood Harry Potter and all it was about.
There was a part in Order of the Phoenix in the ministry where Voldemort possesses Harry’s body for a short time. Prior to watching Phoenix I wondered how they would translate this part to film, being slightly difficult to visualise in a three-dimensional sense.
Then Harry’s scar burst open and he knew he was dead: it was pain beyond imagining, pain past endurance
He was gone from the hall, he was locked in the coils of a creature with red eyes, so tightly bound Harry did not know where his body ended and the creature’s began; they were fused together, bound by pain, and there was no escape-
And when the creature spoke, it used Harry’s mouth, so that in his agony he felt his jaw move
Kill me now Dumbledore…
Blinded and dying, every part of him screaming for release, Harry felt the creature use him again
If death is nothing Dumbledore, kill the boy…
Let the pain stop, thought Harry …let him kill us…end it Dumbledore…death is nothing compared to this…
And I’ll see Sirius again…
as Harry’s heart filled with emotion the creatures coils loosened, the pain was gone…
It is later on that Dumbledore explains to Harry that Voldemort could not possess Harry’s body because he has too much love and good in him and Voldemort’s maimed soul cannot tolerate it (or something to that effect) Now there was not the luxury of later explanations in the film. Yates, however, portrayed it perfectly.
While we see Harry writhing on the floor in great pain in the book and the film, in this scene Yates introduces visuals of Voldemort, snatches of his voice so we can see what Harry is battling and see the torment he is enduring at the hands of his archenemy, visions of Harry and Voldemort blending as one, and Harry’s memories of his friends and loved ones. In this brief moment we see so much more than Voldemort possessing Harry’s body.
Yates encompasses Harry’s terror of his similarities to Voldemort, his deep love for his “true” wizarding family, the pain of losing his loved ones at the hands of the Death Eaters and his incredible strength of character, themes explored in the earlier books, and crucial to the integrity of both Harry and his quest. In these brief moment Yates brings us Harry and all that he is. It is outstanding.
And it chokes me up every time I see it.
At a later point, we were actually having dinner at Mel’s when we were browsing the net and found out that David Yates would be directing the final three films. There was many whoops and shouts of delight, the best director of the Potter films so far would bring us the final chapters of Harry Potter.
He delivered, of course, with Half-Blood Prince. And we have two more sleeps, for the geekiest of us will be seeing the midnight screening on Wednesday, until he brings us the magic again.