So. I had to sleep on this a couple of nights because two hours of standing, one hour of waiting in seats, two hours of movie, and not going to sleep until 4 am wiped me out, for some reason. I'm also having trouble getting rehydrated, as a result of 1) sweating out on the street for two hours in line and 2) not drinking enough to compensate, since I didn't want to have to bolt out of the auditorium mid-movie or die of a burst bladder. So... I'm going to blame dehydration for the fact that I did not have one single urge to cry during Deathly Hallows. And here I literally broke open a box of Kleenex, pulled out the whole stack of tissues, and stuffed it in my purse. I had actually cried through the possession scene in Order of the Phoenix (omg you guys the flashbacks, look at the kids, they were babieeeeees) both times I saw it in the theater, so I fully expected to bawl through the entirety of this one. And yet... for some reason, I felt very detached from the whole experience. Maybe because if I had started crying, nothing but table salt would have sprung from my tear ducts. It was probably better this way.
These are my thoughts. These are not All the Thoughts, just mine. (In fact, having spent two days on this entry, I think I'm going to just cut it off here and save some of My Thoughts for the podcast that we're recording on Sunday.)
1) If nothing else, David Yates can film an action scene. I think his take on the wand duels--to shoot them like crack-bang gunfights--is really wonderful, and they were my favorite parts of the first Deathly Hallows movie. I was also kind of distracted from an emotional connection (maybe, personally) by how beautifully shot and framed the whole movie was. Or that was what I focused on instead of making a connection myself. I don't know--keep in mind, I have been trained to watch with m15m in mind. That might be the reason for my emotional distance.
2) I was a little surprised, though, that the Final Confrontation was so expanded. (I had purposefully tried to avoid as many clips and trailers as I could.) I had always liked the simplicity of that scene in the book--yeah, Harry talks at Voldemort forever, and I'm okay with less of that, but it's one spell, one shot, and the spell each character chooses is so emblematic of their personalities and their story arcs. But in the movie, it's dueling all over the place, it's running around the ruins of Hogwarts, it's the snake chasing everyone around, it's Neville showing up at precisely the necessary moment to kill Nagini and weaken Voldemort--I understand in terms of storytelling why they drew it out like that, why they pushed Neville's big moment as late as they could, but I was still struggling with that fangirl sensation of NO IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE THIS. (Which I don't actually have that often, Half-Blood Prince aside.) I think I'll enjoy it more when I see it again.
(My mother, hearing about the movie the next day: "So what was the part with the pact with the devil?" "What?" "The part with the back and forth and the spells, they cast spells at each other!" "MOM! IT'S LIKE GUNS!")
3) There's a lot that retroactively colors the previous movies, particularly the Snape flashbacks--and it was interesting how those were interwoven with memories that could only be Harry's, as if we're getting to see not only Snape's memories but how Harry is processing them. Alan Rickman generally got really funny yet one-note moments to play in the previous movies, but now that we actually have the visuals of the final movie... watching, say, Order of the Phoenix again is going to be a different experience.
(I was talking with Kevin last night about this--the interesting thing is that, while Snape is played more for reliable humor in the movies, Alan Rickman generally plays him as having more gravitas. Because... Alan Rickman. The thing about Snape in the books is that he is just filled with childish rage, stunted and consumed by it. And you really see the difference in that HBP I complained so much about, the part where the Death Eaters run away in triumph. Book!Snape is all frothing "HOW DARE YOU USE MY OWN SPELLS AGAINST ME!!!!!1!" Movie!Snape brings forward the element of "I'm trying to knock you down for your own good so you don't get your ass beat." There's a genuinely protective, more mature quality to the movies' Snape that you don't really have in the books--like that bit in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie where he actually puts himself between Lupin and the kids, and it looks like sincere, paternal instinct. I just really can't visualize Book!Snape doing that. I like both versions, but the memory sequence in this movie fleshes out the "sincerely protective" interpretation pretty consistently. So both versions have a nice complexity: One is a childish, spiteful man, mentally stuck in grade school, who still manages to spend his life doing incredibly patient, heroic things, even if it's for selfish reasons. The other seems to have some genuine maturity and goodness that is just completely poisoned by his hatred of Harry's father and bitterness at what could have been. The key to both is the idea that a bitter jerk can still do great things, while still also continuing to be a bitter jerk, and that's what makes Snape such a great character. TEAL DEER; IN CONCLUSION, ALAN RICKMAN.)
4) I completely convinced myself that there was supposed to be a boathouse, so I didn't miss the Shrieking Shack at all. Even though that was... kind of thematically important for Snape. Uh. But it was a really well-chosen location, because we were able to see so much more of what was happening through the glass--and yet also less. Also-also: dear God, that was creepy.
5) Speaking of creepy--Jesus, poor Lavender Brown. I love that scene with her on the train in HBP, but I don't think I'm ever going to be able to watch it the same way.
6) Still speaking of creepy--man, Ralph Fiennes is having the time of his life. "There is only one more chance for me to play a fungus-green snake-nosed dude in a black magic hospital gown. This is my time." I mean, God bless an actor who's willing to fully commit.
7) I was okay with Fred not getting a full death scene. I just really hated the way he died in the book--which I'm sure was the point, to have a joke interrupted by this sudden tragedy, but I just really didn't think it would work in the movie. Apparently they didn't either. And, in a way, it made the reveal of poor Lupin and Tonks less throw-away, because they were given as much/little time as Fred. It was more about people Harry loved dying so senselessly in general, rather than, "Also, those guys."
(I realized that I never got the first movie on DVD, so I haven't seen it since it was in theaters--did they even mention that Tonks and Lupin had a kid before Harry was like, "Sorry you got dead and stuff"?)
8) You know... I'm either really, really generous and forgiving with adaptations or I'm a total backseat driver. Because that scene in the forest, I really wanted a specific shot of the four adults walking together behind/around Harry, and we just... never got it. They didn't even stand next to each other. Look, I understand Gary Oldman's busy and what-all, but even if you have to film the actors separately, composite that shit together!
9) I am not a Slytherin fan. As written/filmed, the Slytherins are two-dimensional and almost comically blatant in their evilness. That's not great, but I also don't read more into them than we're given. They're two-dimensional villains because that's how they're intended to function. I mean, you can read more--I just wouldn't mistake that for what is actually there and try to argue that the Slytherins outside your own head/fanfic/forum are so wonderful.
That said? That shit at the beginning of the battle was cold. "Lock them in the dungeon"? Damn. I don't know, maybe they just didn't want to spend time on the questionable logistics of evacuating kids who didn't want to side with Hogwarts, but DAMN. Couldn't you at least have the Slytherin kids just go, "But Hogwarts is important to us too and that's why we're still here! We're going to fight! *HEARTWARMING MOMENT OF AWESOME*"? and deal with it that way? ("Well... fine. But stick Pansy in the broom closet anyway.") That whole business just really underlined how stupid and counterproductive and self-fulfilling-prophesying it is for a school to have The Evil House and not take the "united we stand, divided we fall" theme to its logical conclusion.
Sorry. I'm just saying, that shit was cold.
10) Neville is a BAMF. I mean, we all knew that. And it's really helpful of Matthew Lewis to have obligingly grown up into a young Clive Owen doppelganger, to that end.
10b) I'm really pleased that they went against JKR's final relationship plans for Neville. (Or with her original plan, if I remember the first things she said right after the last book came out.) That was really kind of how I'd wanted it to end up. BAMFness aside, there's a certain courage and gentleness they both have in common, I think.
11) You know what? I LIKED the epilogue in the book, because I'm sentimental like that. But we got to it in the movie and I literally facepalmed myself in the glasses. It just does not work visually, unless you get older actors who look like the characters, and then we're robbed of ending the movie with the actors we watched grow up for ten years, so we can't do that. I will say, I think the aging was most effective on Daniel Radcliffe, fortunately enough. Although, yeah, I smacked myself again when I finally heard "Albus Severus Potter" spoken aloud. Jesus God, I could have dealt with just plain "Severus Potter" better. At least that's less of a verbal speed bump. Besides, "Severus" is kind of badass. Oh! Oh! You know what? Mashup name. Severdore Potter. With that English pronunciation where they partly wouldn't say the R in the middle? Think about it.
Anyway. The thing is, I STILL like the epilogue. I was mulling it over again today, and I think I've figured out why. People tend to hate the epilogue because it's cheesy, I guess, but also because it takes away a lot of their fanfic license (if you can say such a thing)--it decides things they'd rather decide for themselves, and differently. But to me, at the end of this movie, it wasn't really about the main characters' futures and how many kids they had and what they named them and which ones got the red hair. It was about us. I was in college when I first read the books (the first movie came out when I was 22), so I didn't exactly "grow up" with the Harry Potter series the way a lot of fans did. But I grew older with it, and I grew up as a writer, if nothing else, and in part by watching what I thought Rowling did well. The movies, certainly, have been with us for ten years, and each fan has taken a different journey, in some way, with them. They came to love reading fantasy, or just love reading again, or just love reading for the first time at all. They made new friends in fandom, maybe they began writing or drawing or making music in a way they hadn't ever before. And this is the end of that, its completion, and we're standing on the platform, in the middle of other, different, separate journeys now--but we're on that platform watching all the young kids coming up and getting on that train for the first time. And they haven't taken this journey yet; they still have it in front of them, generations of kids to come. Almost all of my college friends and friends-of-friends have babies and toddlers now, and those children haven't gone to Hogwarts yet, but all their parents have, and someday these kids will be reading their parents' worn hardbacks under the covers after they're supposed to be asleep, the hardbacks we stood in line for ten, fifteen years before. They don't know what they're in for yet, or what the stories will bring to their lives, what books will bring to their lives, that magic, but we do. And thinking about that was the first time tears actually came to my eyes. That's why I like the epilogue. What can I say? I'm sentimental.