The Book and Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

There will be spoilers throughout the review. As I’m pretty sure most of you have read the Harry Potter series, I won’t worry about it too much, but if you’re new to the series, you probably should have second thoughts before continuing.

The two movies The Deathly Hallows Part 1 & Part 2 finally show a film adaptation of a Harry Potter book done right. The last six books before Deathly Hallows had a lot in them: great character arcs, plot twists, critical scenes … and only one movie for each book.  

The Book and Movie Review Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling - Tea with Tumnus

If you have read and seen the Harry Potter books and movies, you most likely may have felt frustration at how each Harry Potter movie left out so much that was needed from the book: if you had watched the movies for the first time, you may have been clueless as to what exactly was going on; attempting to fit a whole Harry Potter book into one movie ends up pleasing only the book fans. The first movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (philosopher’s is more interesting, wake up, America) was a great retelling of the first book and was able to capture a lot of the story while keeping it at a normal, understandable pace. I still think a few movies per book or even a TV series would have been a better choice, but there’s no redoing these theatrical retellings that have so quickly become classics.  

I enjoyed the privilege of literally reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows  along with the movies Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2: Two chapters a day, twenty minutes of the movie each night, and I would be watching a scene I had read literally only half an hour before.  

It was incredible. And they got Snape right.  

 

The book is around 750 pages long. And there’s a LOT that happens. So, to keep it easy for me to write and you to read, the short synopsis is provided below; besides, I’m sure most of you are already familiar with the storyline. As for my summing up the whole book in only five sentences? I count that a feat deserving the sword of Gryffindor itself. Okay, I’m exaggerating.  

Voldemort’s Death Eaters have taken over the Ministry of Magic and now not only the Wizarding World but all Muggles and Mudbloods are in life-threatening situations. Despite these new dangers, Harry and his friends will finish what Dumbledore started; The deceased headmaster of Hogwarts has entitled several items to the Three in his will, subtle tools that would help throughout the journey. When Death Eaters invade the Burrow, Harry, Hermione, and Ron set out to destroy the last of Voldemort’s Horcruxes, learn the secrets of The Tale of the Three Brothers and the Deathly Hallows and the Elder Wand, and discover the truth of Dumbledore’s past. Little does Harry know about the heart of the mission, why Dumbledore hardly told him anything before he died, and why Snape had to kill Dumbledore … until Harry sees into Snape’s memory using the Pensieve and discovers the whole reason behind the story from his parents’ death up to the point where he must surrender to Voldemort for the greater good.  


The Storyline

Book: The storyline was so intense and complex. Reading through the book, it was often confusing as there were so many plot twists and side scenes that had everything to do with the main plot. The last few chapters of the book were among the best story wrap-ups I’ve ever read; when Harry sees into Snape’s memories and recognizes who Snape really was, whose side he really was on, why he treated Harry the way he did and yet invisibly helped Harry along the way. After reading what Harry saw in Snape’s memories, there were many flashbacks to certain scenes from the earlier books, and how these otherwise confusing pieces of the plot finally fit in perfectly; I’m not aware whether Rowling wrote out the entire storyline of her Harry Potter series before she started writing, or if she just came up with the ending when it was time to write the last one. Either way, it was an entirely genius technique to end the book, and it left me feeling like my heart was taken out, beaten, squeezed, and put back in (come on, it’s an emotional analogy). It was amazing and I wish I could write like that.

Movie: David Yates certainly knew what he was doing when he decided to split the book Deathly Hallows into two separate, feature-length movies. The earlier movies, except the first few, failed to masterfully retell the story from each of the books, particularly The Goblet of Fire. These books are loooooong, and I personally think a TV series would have been the best way to go. Both movies Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 did a much better job with the book’s storyline and sticking to it accurately (except for minuscule details). And some of my favorite scenes from the book were cut out of the movie, but I understood that was simply proof that Deathly Hallows was so wonderfully complex, not even two movies could completely suffice.  

As for the very end, which I was concerned wouldn’t get enough attention as the book did, it was brilliant. Harry’s witnessing of Snape’s memories in the Pensieve was pulled off very well … a little fast for my liking, but there’s a lot going on, and it still left me with almost as much emotional pull as when I read it.


Character Arcs

Harry – Book and Movie: Harry’s character was still poorly done; I still felt that he had no unique quirk or personality, unlike Ron, Hermione, etc. I thought maybe this was because since he was the main character, we were already hearing a lot about his thoughts, but not exactly his personal, unique perspective. We only see what he’s seeing, and how he reacts with dialogue or action, but that still doesn’t tell us a lot about his character, besides the fact that he has an introverted, temperamental, confused, and easily ticked-off demeanor. But perhaps I am missing the big picture and the books themselves are pieces of Harry’s personality.  

Ron and Hermione – Book and Movie: In the last several books, I would constantly get annoyed whenever Ron and Hermione bickered back and forth time and time again. So of course they’re going to end up together, that’s how all stories are. But this is what’s so genius about Rowling; she takes that relationship and makes it real. As the characters mature, so does their perspective of one another, and they don’t fight so much in Deathly Hallows like before; rather, they complement and compliment each other. It’s a relief.  

Hermione surprised me a bit in this book; she’s always the nerdy, slightly stuck-up bookworm know-it-all, and I love her for it. But she had sudden outbursts and very un-Hermione-ish instances when she either appeared tongue-tied, at a loss of how to act logically and with authority, or uncharacteristically humble dispositions. For example, her outbursts at Ron when he decided to come back after getting angry (for reasons you may already know) really wore on me. But I guess we’re seeing more of her character conflicts and it’s really quite interesting. As for this same scene in the movie, I’m very happy to say it wasn’t as drawn out as it was in the book, and was thankful for the following event. All I can say about Ron is that he’s alright, but seemed a little out of the spotlight, both in the book and movie. He was my favorite earlier on.

Snape – Book and Movie: Snape. Ah, Snape, my favorite, for always and forever. We all know how he appears to be the ultimate villain besides Voldemort, and we are constantly incredulous as to how Dumbledore could trust him at all … until we see his memories and we cry and hit ourselves against the wall for not knowing before and taking back all our muttered curses against him. Snape’s character is one of the best, if not the best I’ve ever seen or read of. From the start, he appears to be a foreboding, suspicious, and grumpy person to avoid, sometimes even seemingly a spy for Voldemort. And yet in Deathly Hallows we realize that Snape was suffering, protecting Harry, the son of the girl he loved, and yet appearing to hate him, believing he acted too much like his father, whom he hated. And at the same time, he was acting loyally towards Dumbledore, doing his bidding, and yet was a Death Eater, obeying Voldemort’s commands. In the end, Dumbledore, who placed Snape in such a position, said that Snape must kill him (for complicated reasons) and yes, I could keep going.

Reading the whole series just to hear about Snape at the very end is worth it.

The thing that really hit me, though, was that the doe Patronus (which led Harry to the Sword of Godric Gyffindor so he might destroy the Horcrux) was the same kind of Patronus as Harry’s mother’s. But this Patronus was Snape’s, and his was a doe because he loved Lily Potter and had sent the patronus to Harry because he had sworn to protect her son. After all this time. Always. *grabs a tissue*

Luna and Neville – Book and Movie: Luna will always be my second favorite right after Snape. Her oddities are even more unique and lovable in the book and I enjoyed seeing her get more screentime and page attention. This strange little girl has always had a special place in my heart because she is a role model of a person full of hope, faith, and perspective, and is not afraid to be different; in fact, she quite enjoys it. Her best friend, (a Hufflepuff, so of course she was never mentioned) is living a Muggle’s busy life blogging on Tea with Tumnus.  

Remember the clumsy, chubby-cheeked boy who kept forgetting where his Remembrall was? Neville wasn’t put in Gryffindor House for nothing; he becomes a true hero in this book as he and Luna keep up Dumbledore’s Army, and leads a revolt against the Death Eaters at Hogwarts while Harry is away playing hide and go seek with Horcruxes. It’s amazing to see how his character changed from a trembling, unconfident kid to a heroic fighter who wasn’t afraid to stand up to Voldemort and destroy Nagini, the final Horcrux. He is the only one who challenges Voldemort when his Death Eaters bring back the supposedly dead Harry. He is the perfect picture of one who eventually fought fear to stand in the end with courage.  

I was a bit disappointed, however, how the movie only slightly portrayed that Luna and Neville could end up together. They NEED to! In fact, I can’t imagine them just not. Their kid would be best friends with Loki and Darcy’s future child; okay, I see a fanfiction idea coming on.


Book vs. Movie

So, as I’ve mentioned before, there were a lot of scenes from the book that didn’t make it into the movie that I wished could have. Towards the end in the book, when Voldemort’s voice is amplified, telling Hogwarts to hand over Potter, I could just imagine the epic shot in a movie version of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw all slowly, eventually, standing up to solemnly communicate that they would fight with and for Harry to the last. Besides Snape’s memories, this was the second scene that really tugged. I could just imagine the music that could go with the scene.

The Battle of Hogwarts was just as epic as I would have imagined for the movie. However, Fred’s death was very lost in the movie’s story, and we never get to feel the pangs of his death as we did in the book. Also, Voldemort kills Snape in the Shrieking Shack, but in the movie, it happened in some boathouse close to Hogwarts.  

As for King’s Cross Station, it was white and surreal, just as described in the book, when Harry and Dumbledore talk on the line between life and death. In the movie, the whole scene was very accurate to the book, and that made me happy. Of course, they had to skimp on a lot of the dialogue, but it came over understandable to me. I was especially glad that Dumbledore’s quote still got into the movie: “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” Hey, Fandoms, I’m having second thoughts.

As for Voldemort’s death, it was not at all like the book. With no one but Harry to witness it, his body turns into a bunch of ashy butterflies that disappear into thin air, just for some more movie special effects. In the book, however, everyone watches in suspense as the truth of Draco’s wand is told and Harry finally kills Voldemort to cheers.

At the very end of the book, Harry repairs his own wand with the Elder Wand. In the movie, however, I found it hilarious that he did not repair his own wand at all; he simply went ahead and broke the Elder Wand in half … dang, I guess it’s too late.

As for the very last scene, when Harry’s and Ginny’s kids (along with Ron’s and Hermione’s) climb aboard the Hogwarts train at Platform 9 ¾, it was slightly confusing as to who was which in the movie, unlike the book; except we were able to tell exactly who Albus Severus Potter was. Other than that, they did a pretty job making the actors look older and it was so fun and nostalgic at the same time. Oh, the ending.


Themes and PG-13

The themes throughout the book were, of course, wonderful, and they showed through in the movie. Faith, love, hope, the good winning against evil, etc. But there was something that I had to bring to attention that happened in both the book and the movie …

One of the Horcruxes the Three take with them on their mission to find/destroy the rest is on a chain, and Hermione, Ron, and Harry have to take turns with it on their neck; if one of them wears it for too long, their temper and doubt rises and it makes them a very hopeless, disagreeable person. You’ve heard this before; The Horcrux and Harry is just like Frodo and the One Ring; both can and will eventually destroy the person destined to wear it … and it’s up to them to destroy it in the end. The only difference here is that it’s Harry Potter, and he destroys this certain Horcrux halfway through the book, and the whole legend of Lord of the Rings is that when Frodo throws the Ring into Mount Doom, the story’s done. There are even character similarities —Hey, IT’S A MIX-AND-MATCH! Harry/Saruman/Dumbledore/Wormtail/Voldemort/Frodo/Gandalf/Gollum. Moving on.

The darkness in the movies were just like in the book, but of course it’s more extreme as we’re watching the stuff happen on the screen, in front of our eyes, rather than imagining it in our heads while reading. Deathly Hallows is not extremely dark, but I wouldn’t recommend it for children under the age of 10 for certain scenes.

The creepiest part from all the Harry Potter books and movies is Bathilda Bagshot. Before Ron returns, the two of them journey to Godric’s Hollow to look for Godric’s Sword of Gryffindor, the only object that can destroy Horcruxes. Voldemort’s snake Nagini was planted in an animated corpse of Bathilda Bagshot, a disguise to attack Harry. Yes, so there’s a supposedly dead woman walking around, demented by a snake; if there’s any reason I wouldn’t want my hypothetical kids reading Harry Potter, it would be because of that very scene. It grossed me out reading the scene just as much as it scared me watching it in the movie.  

Harry Potter gets darker and darker.
The movies get darker and darker.

 

Quality of Movie and Writing Style of the Book

The writing style of the book is definitely more mature than the one before, The Half-blood Prince. There’s much more detail and mature content as far as Harry’s thought trains go in the first couple chapters and it makes the story more interesting and important.  

The movie was, I think, a lot better done than the earlier ones, except for the first. I’ve already mentioned that both Part 1 and 2 were able to capture the story and the important events from the book very well with a low level of confusion. The special effects were great, the acting was so-so (the actors are the same) and choice of shot was pretty good. As for Daniel Radcliffe’s performance, it’s just as can be expected with his earlier Harry Potter movies, but it was very entertaining to watch him actually act when the Polyjuice Potion is used in the beginning and Hermione, Ron, Fred, George, and Fleur all become identical Harry Potters for diverting and deceiving the Death Eaters on the aerial journey to the Burrow.

 

Summed up, this is the best film adaption of any Harry Potter book, from staying true to the story and the themes to the CGI and choice of events. Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2 were a perfect way to end Harry Potter’s adventure. Have you seen or read Deathly Hallows? What did you think about the book and/or movie? Don’t forget to comment with your thoughts below.

 

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5 thoughts on “The Book and Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

  1. I totally agree with everything you said. Especially the Bathilda Bagshot scene being one of the creepiest. I had to look away during that part. Very creepy. Question: What is your favorite Harry Potter book?

    Like

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