Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows For Those Who Came In Late
It draws heavily on events of episode six, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, and brings together plot threads from earlier outings right back to The Chamber of Secrets.
While following the J K Rowling storyline closely, The Deathly Hallows is very different from the earlier films of the franchise. Events take on a bleaker more pessimistic tone, there are elements of horror rather than fantasy and characters, including Hermione, experience torture. With echoes of political totalitarianism this film is complex and meant for adults rather than children.
Events from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince weigh heavily on the opening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Dumbledore is dead, killed at the hands of Severus Snape, who has openly gone over to the side of the Death Eaters (Followers of Voldemort). Harry, Ron and Hermione receive mysterious items as bequests from Dumbledore’s will.
Voldemort has taken control of the Ministry of Magic which more and more resembles the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler. There are hints of Hitler’s theories of racial purity and his extermination of the Jews in the ministry’s attempts to weed out and exclude mudbloods (witches or wizards from muggle or non-magical backgrounds) from Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic.
Our trio of heroes has resolved not to return to Hogwarts for their final year of studies but go on a quest for the remaining horcruxes of Voldemort (these bewitched items have enabled him to live on after the destruction of his physical body when his killing curse was reflected back on him upon killing Harry’s parents way back in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – alternative title Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone)
Horcruxes: What Are They?
Viewers or readers of instalment six, The Half Blood Prince, will know that two horcruxes have already been destroyed and our heroes have clues to the location of other horcruxes, making a total of six. The Half Blood Prince dealt largely with Dumbledore’s quest for a locket, the locket of Salazar Slytherin, which was another of Voldemort’s horcruxes. At the end of the story Harry, Ron and Hermione have a locket in their possession but have discovered it is a counterfeit of the original, taken and replaced by a mysterious person with the initials R.A.B. If they can find out who R.A.B. is they can track down the next horcrux.
But what is a horcrux? It is a physical object into which a part of a wizard or witch’s soul has been placed for security reasons. If the wizard is killed his soul can live on in its horcrux, allowing the possibility for the wizard to be reincarnated in another physical body at a future date. Horcruxes are devices of dark magic and can only be created through the act of murder. Voldemort had six horcruxes so he had to commit six murders, the first was that of his father. Only such a heinous act has the power enough that it, “rips the soul apart.” (Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.)
Destroyed Horcruxes: Tom Riddle’s Diary
One horcrux is vital to the plot of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets although it is not identified as a horcrux at the time. It is the diary of Tom Riddle. Before Voldemort was the dark lord he was ordinary Tom Riddle. His second horcrux was created while he was a student at Hogwarts. Originally in the care of Lucius Malfoy, the diary came into the possession of Ginny Weasley in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Anyone in close possession of a horcrux can be influenced by that object, especially if the object is regarded as important by its owner. Ginny became possessed by the piece of Voldemort’s soul in the diary and through her the contents of the Chamber of Secrets were unleashed on Hogwarts. Harry, Ron and Hermione know that basilisk venom has the ability to destroy a horcrux as Harry destroyed the diary with a basilisk fang.
Destroyed Horcrux: Marvolo Gaunt’s Ring
In The Half Blood Prince Dumbledore’s right hand has been permanently maimed. This was as a result of his encounter with the first horcrux created by Voldemort, Marvolo Gaunt’s ring. Only the swift intervention of Severus Snape prevented the horcrux from killing Dumbledore after he placed it on his finger. This reveals another characteristic of horcruxes, they have some consciousness of enemies and of danger directed towards them and can defend themselves.
When Harry, Ron and Hermione find the real locket of Salazar Slytherin, the locket wreaks undesirable consequences on the trio of heroes. To prevent themselves from being overcome by the horcrux they take turns in wearing the locket around their necks. However, this becomes too much for Ron in the film of The Deathly Hallows. He develops paranoid delusions, believing that Harry and Hermione are becoming romantically linked, at one stage seeing a vision of Harry and Hermione naked.
This is the major difference between the novel and the film which for the main part is faithful to the original storyline. In the novel Ron also abandons the quest for a period but out of his frustration at the lack of progress in their endeavours while events become ever more dire in the outside world. After Ron leaves, the film adds a completely new scene in which Harry and Hermione dance together to the music of O Children from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One is a film for adults rather than children. Characters, including important characters, die. Towards the end of the film our trio of heroes are captured and Hermione is tortured for information. While young viewers will enjoy the action and special effects, these events will be uncomfortable. Adults will be more able to understand the political allusions of the film but if they have come in late to the storyline they will have trouble coming to terms with the essential magical elements of the story, such as horcruxes.