A Dreamer Walking

Weight and Consequence

Posted in Uncategorized by Jacob on October 16, 2011

It seems like I was one of the few who was not too impressed with the last Harry Potter films. To be honest I was not too impressed with the last two Harry Potter films. The reason is because the director David Yates seemed to not be interested in expressing the weight and consequences of the last chapter of the Harry Potter story. Oh yes there was plenty of fighting, flying, and spell casting, yet all of it seemed to be for little cause. They wanted to destroy the evil Voldemort because he wants to destroy all the good in the world and become Lord of all. However, we are not given much of a reason why Voldemort is so evil. He is like so many other cliche villains, only fighting against the protagonist because that is what the story requires.

The weight of the last two films was taken away because David Yates was not interested in concentrating on the actual consequence of Voldemort’s action and the cost of killing him. What David Yates seemed to want when it came down to it was a entertaining blockbuster that would not frustrate his broad audience. He sacrificed many of the needs of the story for the comfort of the audience.

Most audiences like to watch cool action sequences full of explosions and people dieing all over the place. In Harry Potter it’s an added bonus that the action is taking place in a wizard world where their are fantastical monsters and spells being cast all over the place. Yet, few like seeing the consequences of fighting. Sure someone dieing from a distance is cool but when you actually know that person and you need to see the results it has on his or her family and close friends, its a different story.  The last battle in Harry Potter is full of consequences, the school is destroyed, many main characters are killed, and the world the wizards live in will never be the same. However, all of this loss was underplayed in the  film.

The school and characters killed were neither set up or cherished much after they were loss. In reality (Spoiler alert) when Fred died we only had one scene mourning his loss. After the battle when Ron is talking to Harry he seems to have forgotten all about his brother Fred. The movie barley acknowledges (watch out another spoiler) the death of Professor Lupin, one of Harry’s most cherished teachers. It even seems like the main characters are not too interested about the damage done to the school they spent the last seven years living and studying in. It is a typical mistake in high budget films for the filmmakers to get so carried away with blowing things up that they forget the value of the things they are destroying. I just wanted one or two scenes of someone like Hermione walking into her old corridor where she used to live and seeing all the graceful carvings and paintings she used to admire as a child destroyed. I wanted the camera to concentrate for just a few seconds on the ripped up banners and blood stained tables in the banquet hall. I wanted to actually see an honest reaction from Harry, Ron, and Hermione on the things that were lost during the “last battle”. However, hardly any of this came to be so when Harry moves on it isn’t a very big deal. The consequences were so distant I didn’t really care about the victory at the end.

It is not the action that creates the entertainment, it is the characters. The action in a story should only further our connection with the characters. The reason why I needed to understand the motives of Voldemort is because it gives validity to the actions of our hero’s. When we can understand Voldemort’s obsession with power, we become much more respectful of Harry’s fight against it. The objective for the last battle should not have been to give us a visual effects feast, the objective should have been to bring to completion the journeys we had been observing in Ron, Hermione, and Harry. Even though it doesn’t feel good to see the true results of what war and fighting brings, allowing us to see these things gives the stories and characters substance that impacts us far greater then a few cool special effects.

If you truly want to impact an audience give them a reason to truly feel for the story and characters you express on screen. In the last chapter of Harry Potter we didn’t get to the bottom of why Ron and Hermione fell in love with each other. We were not allowed to truly get to the bottom of why Harry was so set on fighting against the evils of Voldemort. The weight comes when you set these things up well. You must give us a reason to why characters are doing what they are doing. When we know what the characters are truly fighting for and what they have to lose, the stakes get higher. When the stakes are high you have an audience who is truly involved with the story that is being told. Consequence is one way to make the story more real and it gives us a contrast that is needed so we can better understand and appreciate the light at the end of the tunnel.

I am not saying the last chapter of Harry Potter was a total bust. It had elements I truly liked. However, the focus was for the most part not in the right places and thus the movie became less memorable and less impacting. You must give your audience a reason to remember your movie. Any film can create cool effects. However, there will never be another character exactly like Fred or Professor Lupin. And there will never be a school quite like Hogwarts. The heart of the film is often found in the quite moments, the time between the action and dialogue. It’s there where you will find the weight of the movie. Sometimes consequence is needed to validate that weight. The most important thing is to stay a servant to the story no matter how great of a budget you have or large your audience might be.

One Response

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  1. minnow said, on October 16, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    I forgot–when did Dobie die? Was that book 6 or part 1 of 7? Anyway, they did give that relationship more focus which I think was helpful.
    Great post and I agree with you about both these films.

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