Harry Potter Comes to an End
by Tom Donelson on July 21, 2011 at 1:17 PM
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 concluded the adventure of the boy wizard versus the evil Lord Voldemort. The movie does not follow the book faithfully at every point, but it does follow the book theme of good vs. evil. Through the book series and the first seven movies, J.K. Rowling details the story of Harry Potter and his nemesis Lord Voldemort. Voldemort was born Tom Riddle and like Harry Potter, suffered rejection as a youth, but Potter reached out to the good in others and Riddle turned into Lord Voldemort. In some ways, one is reminded of the transformation of Luke and his dad Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars series. Luke turned to good whereas his father turned to the dark side. Evil is a choice that is made, but so is good.
Each movie, like the books, builds upon the previous episode as each movie moves through the teenage years of Potter and his two friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, but each movie see a maturation of the main characters as they move out of their teenage angst. However, the world they live in is changing as well. Each movie sees the evil increase and multiply as Lord Voldemort's power expands and threat to the wizard world increases. In the sixth book, the course to final conflict begins in earnest as evil spreads beyond the wizard world to the human world as muggles (wizard word for humans) start disappearing and natural disasters proliferate. In a wizard world divided by class and blood, Lord Voldemort raises the ante as he begins a purification campaign in the final installation of the movie, but as long as Potter is alive, Voldemort control of the wizard world remains in jeopardy.
The movie, like the book, does have a tonic for a culture that is often divided as Rowling, in her books, and the directors, in their films, introduced timeless virtues of friendship, loyalty, and the price of defeating evil with many favorite characters killed. The movies, like the books, shows the flaws of the good guys, in particular, Dumbledore, who never allowed himself near power for he feared what he would do with the power due to his own weaknesses, and Harry Potter feared that he could become like Voldemort. Both build their lives around the idea that modesty and love for others represented a necessity. Voldermort has no modesty and no fear of power, for it is all that he seeks, nor did he have love for his fellow wizards.
One of the characters in Deathly Hallows 2 tells the story of three brothers, the first seeks the most powerful wand, the second a resurrection stone and the third a cloth that allows invisibility to escape death 's clutches.The first brother uses his wand for evil intent but is killed when he loses the wand. The second brother goes mad when he can’t truly resurrect the dead to their former selves, but the third brother's invisibility cloth allows him to escape Death’s clutches until the time he is ready and he joins Death as a equal after giving the invisible cloth to his son.
At various points in the movie, one is reminded of the three components of the Deathly Hallows, the elder wand that Voldemort steals form Dumbledore’s grave, along with the invisibility cloak and the Resurrection stone. The belief is that possession of all makes one the master of death.
In the final installments, along with Half Blood Prince, we find that Voldemort has hid his splintered soul in Horcruxes, hiding places created by committing murder. Harry, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley try to find Horcurxes, for destroying them is the only way to kill Voldemort. The search for Horcruxes and their destruction produces tense movement in the films; setting up the final confrontation. The story of the Deathly Hallows foreshadows the ending confrontation between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, as well as its outcome.
As the series comes to its conclusion, the young heroes forsake teen angst, and begin their march into adulthood; including blooming love as close friends find that there is more than friendship among some of them. We see courage among friends as the final battle begins including the self effacing Neville Longbottom. Throughout the series, Longbottom proved plain and always overlooked, but in the final books and movies, he shows moxie and valor to match the main heroes.
The movie also reveals the story behind Snape, who is killed by Voldemort in a brutal way. As he is dying, he tells Harry that Harry “has his mother’s eyes” and Harry learns the truth about Snape and his relationship to Dumbledore, his mother and Harry himself. We find that Snape did not deceive Dumbledore but Voldemort, and his murder of Dumbledore was preplanned by Dumbledore himself for many reasons. Over the years, Snape has been Harry’s protector; due to his love for Harry’s mom and told Dumbledore never to reveal his true feelings for the boy.
Before his confrontation with Voldemort, Potter finds the resurrection stone where he sees his mother, father, along others killed in the past struggle. It is a moment where he learns about the communion of souls that unites the living and the dead, but Potter has one final revelation from Dumbledore after being seriously wounded by Voldemort. Dumbledore teaches Harry final lessons of life, death, and heroism. Throughout the series and in the movies, Potter never truly wanted others to die for him, but he learns that the willingness to offer up one life is a key in conquering death. While he is willing to do that, he learns to accept that others are willing to do die for him as well; an example includes Longbottom's final speech against Voldemort as Voldemort ask for the surrender of the remaining wizards opposing his rise.
J.K. Rowling showed that evil diminishes one including Voldemort; who became a shriveled shell; kept alive by horcruxes and a parasite who survives on the blood of unicorn; seeking a body to resurrect himself. It is appropriate that Voldemort is shown as a parasite for maybe Rowling is making a point that evil must be a parasite to survive. Like the Deathly Hallows story, Voldemort sought power but Harry sought more, gaining his life at the expense of Voldemort. Harry managed to extract the Elder Wand from Voldemort, which he uses to defeat Voldemort. After the battle and while holding the wand, Harry decides to destroy the wand; killing off the symbol of eternal life, wealth and power. In the final scene, Potter finds a more modest life that removed from the center of power.
Another aspect of the movies was the refusal of the wizard establishment to accept Voldemort’s comeback, evil was never talked about, and Voldermort's name could never be mentioned. The final installment saw that many in the establishment were perfectly willing to cooperate with Voldemort but some will see that the price would be high. Draco Malfoy and his family viewed Voldemort as their ticket to power, but when it becomes obvious that the price would be high; they made their own decision at the end. The reign of power under Voldemort reminds us of actual history whether it is Stalin’s purges or Hitler’s final solution. Rowling reminds us that for evil to win, it needs cooperation of ordinary citizens willing to tolerate their loss of freedom and dreams of power over others. Her point of modesty among leaders being essential to a good society is reinforced by the last scene.
Rowling’s books were her contribution to the culture as millions of children rediscover the art of reading and shared that art with their parents and adults. In reviewing the audience for the movie, patrons of all age were there to share the experience of Harry Potter. The Harry Potter series, like Lord of the Rings, showed that Hollywood can produce classics that will stand the test of time. Years from now, the Harry Potter series will still inspire and thrill just like Star Wars classics still thrill audiences some thirty years after it was first produced.
Great movies, like great books, tell great stories with timeless themes of good vs. evil, valor, friendship and loyalty. The Potter series, as a movie, reflected the themes of Rowling’s stories; the valor of Harry Potter and his friends finally winning over evil.