“Hey man. Do you … have a cape I could borrow?”
That phrase was uttered, texted, Facebooked all day on Wednesday. As a person who isn’t a superhero and who doesn’t engage in Viking metal type escapades, I don’t generally have a need for a cape. As such, I was not sure how to obtain one. The reason, on that fine Wednesday afternoon of frantically trying to get my paws on a cape (or a stripy scarf, guys!) was that I was going to attend a midnight screening of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 … or HP7Pt1.
The reason for my choosing to go to a midnight screening, the stomping ground of the die-hard fan, was thus: I thought it would be completely fascinating, and that the atmosphere would be absolutely infectious. Simple as that. I’ve been to midnight screenings before, namely for the Star Wars prequels, resplendent in Jedi tshirts and about to burst with excitement. Harry Potter and I however, have a rather less intense relationship. I have read a grand total of two and a half of the books, and my excitement for the films’ release was minimal at best until the last couple (which, in my opinion, have been a vast improvement of the earliest few). As such, a large part of me was worried about being a fraud, surrounded by people in Dumbledore beards and hoards of lightning bolt’d fans. The rest of me was merely excited about the prospect of most likely being swept up in the excitement of the night. After all, I enjoy attending an event film as much as the next person.
I arrived armed with a wand (read: stick), and a friend who was dressed as a fashion-forward Dementor (a baggy hooded top). Throughout the car trip Brian attempted to fill me in on necessary plot-points I’d probably need to remember for the film. I obviously hadn’t read the thickest of the books (so thick that it warrants two films), and my memory of the last film had nearly faded into a cloud of Voldemort smoke. Apparently Harry has to go find some Horcruxes? Voldemort’s getting stronger? Ron’s getting hotter? Okay. At that point I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be confused, with my brain scrambling to catch up throughout much of the film.
Upon saying hello to another friend who was in attendance, I let slip that I hadn’t read past halfway through The Prisinor of Azkaban. His eyes widened in horror.
“I don’t understand how ANYONE of our generation could have NOT read ALL of the books!” he exclaimed very loudly, as I inwardly cringed. Feeling like a fraud? Check.
Almost everyone at the cinema was dressed up. Lightning bolts on foreheads, glasses, scarves. Prom dresses with cloaks over the top of them. Wizards everywhere. Everyone eagerly talking, hands gesticulating crazily. People rushing around, admiring costumes. And this was at about 11pm, an hour until the film was due to start. Brian, actually being a huge fan, was getting more and more excited as the minutes ticked towards midnight. I will say this, the atmosphere in the cinema was definitely contagious, infectious. I had been excited to see Deathly Hallows throughout the day, but now I absolutely could not wait.
Finally, we entered the cinema. It was full, needless to say. As the trailers played, most people continued to whisper to each other excitedly. The trailers finished, and silence descended. Cries of “ONYA, HARRY!” “WHOO! HARRY!!” and whoops of joy peppered the theatre, and the film began.
While Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 has been reviewed endlessly by now, I’ll keep my musings to a minimum. I’ll say this though, I wasn’t wrong when I resigned myself to probably spending much of the film being confused. I found myself trying to remember what happened in the last film, who was in the last film, then only realising about twenty minutes in that “Oh! They’re not going back to Hogwarts!”. As far as the film’s plot and structure itself goes, I found myself split into two minds. The first is aware that the book is dense. Very dense. There’s a lot to cover, and as a result, certain scenes go by without the context and detail that they’d obviously been given in the book. Certain characters I found myself wondering about, wishing I’d read the book, so I’d know a little bit more about them. Or so I’d know a bit more about why exactly Harry, Ron and Hermione were doing what they were doing. At the same time however, the film is over two hours long. Obviously, because there’s so much to cover. The film is narratively quite complex, scenes seem to whizz by, yet the second act seems to get somewhat bogged down. This is a little puzzling.
These thoughts however, only occurred to me on the drive home. While in the theatre surrounded by adoring Potter fans, I was still well and truly enjoying the ride. Given the atmosphere, and the obviously young crowd, there were hollers of approval when Ginny asked Harry to zip her dress up, even more so when George – or was it Fred? – walked in on their quick make out session. Choruses of “Awww!” when Ron would gaze longingly at Hermione (and my, hasn’t Ron grown into himself nicely?). Any moment of awkward teenage sexual tension, now that I think about it, was met with claps and giggles. Throughout the film there was applause, shouts, and collective Harry-love. How could one not get swept up in that? A superb British cast, lots of action, some great humorous moments, and improved acting from the three leads. I tip my hat to this latest installment. Next to a scene of [SPOILER ALERT?] Harry dancing, the biggest audience reaction was undoubtedly left for the end scene. It arrived after a particularly moving scene without much in the way of lead up, but it soon became clear that it marked the beginning of a nine month wait for any sort of filmic closure. And believe me, closure is needed. A lot happens in Part 1, but at the same time, not nearly enough. The end credits rolled, and as one, the audience groaned in pain. Brian flailed in the seat next to me. “But I WOULD watch a five hour film! I want it NOW!”
I have to admit, I felt exactly the same. For this fan however, it means I have nine months to read all seven books, to get up to speed. I’ll be damned if I go into the last instalment as confused as I did this one. Harry Potter really is the franchise of our generation, with readers having grown up with the characters and becoming emotionally involved in the journey. More so than Twilight, HP is something that every Gen Y-er can embrace, with a global event every year for the past seven years making our connection to the story that much stronger. I suppose in part thanks to Deathly Hallows, this writer will be one more fan by the release of Part 2. Let’s hope there’s buckets of closure in that film. We’re going to need it.