Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows chat

Nov 18, 2010

KidsPost Editor Tracy Grant -- who has seen 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-Part I' twice and who interviewed Tom Felton, who plays Harry's nemesis Draco Malfoy -- will be online Thursday, Nov. 18, at 1 p.m. ET to answer questions about the penultimate film in the series.

Let's talk about what Ann Hornaday called in her review today the beginning of the end.  The first part of "Deathly Hallows" is a wonderful, if incomplete, movie. I'm happy to take questions on the movie, which I've been lucky enough to see twice. I also interviewed Tom Felton who plays Draco. So let's get chatting

I notice the trailer shows scenes that are obviously for Part 2 (if you've read the book, they are fairly easy to spot). I dislike the practice of movie trailers showing scenes that you aren't going to see in the movie being advertised. While it may be excused in this case because the trailer itself (or at least the one connected with these reviews) appears to be advertising both Parts 1 and 2, other movies show scenes in trailers that don't end up in the final cut. Can this be considered false advertising?

You're quite right. But I guess since just about everyone who will see Part I is also going to see Part II, I'm not sure I feel awfully cheated by it. What do others think?

One of the comments to the movie review on washingtonpost.com mentioned something about the book series being satanic and ruining the lives of children. While it seemed like a random rant, I've not heard this particular rant before - are there some who think the series is a problem from a religious standpoint?

Actually, the Potter books are among the most challenged in the country by parents who  feel that because of the wizarding content, they should not be on library shelves. I think every parent should make these individual decision for themselves obviously. But I think the reason that my kids will, as parents, read the Potter books to their kids, is because they are fundamentally about the battle between good and evil. They provide a road map for dealing with adversity ... although one can certainly hope that none of our kids ever encounter as much adversity as Harry and his kin do. I think Rowling includes many literary references in her books, including biblical ones

Of the three main child characters, which has the best chance of having a legitimate acting career post- Hogwarts? I just haven't seen any of them in anything other than Potter movies or tabloids.

I have to say that the three of them are AMAZING in this movie. It is not a film about affects or action, really. It's a character driven vehicle and if any one of them had been cheesy, it would have fallen apart. It is played in close-ups and they are so affecting. There's a moment very early on when Hermione is leaving her parents and the look on Emma Watson's face is riveting. The problem, of course, is to what extent can you see Radcliffe and not think Harry. But the three of them have pulled off TERRIFIC, nuanced, sublte performances that show they are actors worthy of careers.

Anyone who read the books and watched the movies knows that details from the books have been changed or omitted from the movies. Some of those details play important roles in the seventh book. I am curious to see how they manage to bridge the differences.

This was a rich topic with the kids I saw the movie with. There are favorite scenes from the books that don't make it into the movie (I wish the scene where Dudley and Harry say goodbye had been included), but I think the movies stand as works with artistic merit. The first two were literally true to the books. I think since Prisoner of Azkaban, they have been aesthetically true to the spirit of the books. So, are there scenes you will miss; sure. But I don't think many people will feel that the movie doesn't do justice to the book ... or rather the first 2/3 of the book.

How do you feel about where they decided to cut the story off to end Part I? Does it work as a good climax of a movie or is it too abrupt?

I gotta be honest. I saw the movie the first time last Thursday in advance of my interview with Felton and I saw it in a screening room, not a big theater and I spent the rest of the day feeling bereft because it is such an emotionally draining movie and it ends without the payoff. It's as if someone gave you the book, let you read 2/3 of it and then took it away from you. But when I saw it on Monday in a theater full of people, there seemed to be a greater sense of being on a journey. All I can say is that Part II has so much good stuff to cover that I hope they do it justice, but I'm sure they will.

Actually, Emma Watson is attending Brown and Daniel Radcliffe has done a few movies and had a well regarded stint on Broadway in Equus. They seem to be doing fine beyond the Potter series.

And Rupert Grint has done a few movies. And of course Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman and others had rich careers before the series. I do think part of what is so affecting about this movie, at least to me as a mother, was to see these kids fully grown. Should have said this before, but Radcliffe is great in the graveyard scene. It would have been so easy to overplay it.

Do you know of any theaters that will offer adults-only showings? I know it is a 'kids' movie (although from what I hear this one is pretty significantly more mature), but adults like the series, too. And unfortunately, even going to a 10 p.m. or later showing does not guarantee a child-free experience. (I went to see the Passion of the Christ at 11-something-pm, and was shocked at the number of children, I don't mean teenagers, but under-10 children, in the theater.)

I'm not sure that you can technically have an "adults only screening" although there are some theaters having 3 a.m. or 3:30 a.m. screenings tomorrow morning. Probably a safe bet that you won't have too many 10-year-olds there.

On that subject, it is rated PG-13 mostly for the themes of loss and despair that permeate the movie. There are laugh lines to be sure (the seven harrys is wicked). But it's not a movie for 7-year-olds, not because of violence or the necking or anything like that, but just because it's too profound for them.

Do you know if part two was filmed consecutively with part one, the way three Lord of the Rings movies were all filmed in one go?

They were filmed back to back. Although they are still tweaking Part II and David Yates has said that he may bring everyone back to shoot a few scenes in December. But by and large the second movie is in post production.

Do you want them to include the epilogue? I thought it was tacked on in the book, and I think they will/did for part 2, but my feeling is that they should exclude it.

Oh I think they have to the epilogue, in my  humble opinion. (What Harry and Ginny named their son totally got me!)  And I think they'll find a very creative way to handle it. (The way they render the Tale of the Three Brothers as a fairy tale is truly lovely.

Hi Tracy, thanks for taking my question. I love the Harry Potter books and movies. I am going to the midnight showing tonight and so excited about it. I been reading the reviews and sounds like it's emotionally charged film. Should I bring tissue to the movie? :)

I sobbed through much of it the first time I saw it. But again that was not in a full theater. It was a very limited screening. So it may not be a three-hanky movie for everyone, but definitely tuck a tissue in your cape pocket!

What are the chances of being able to watch both parts of the movie back to back in a theater when part 2 comes out?

I believe there are some theaters that tonight are screening movies 5, 6 and 7 back t0 back to back. So I'm absolutely certain that they will re-release Part I for an uber double-feature experience. My 14-year-old son has predicted (correctly, I'm sure) that the two movies will be released in one DVD combo pack. For what it's worth, when I talked to Tom Felton, he said that he and the entire cast thought the "two movie" approach was the right one because there was no way they could do justice to it in one movie. (Certainly not in one movie of less than 4.5 hours!)

Tracy--in your opinion, who stands out in your mind as being the best, or maybe most memorable, performer in this particular entry of the franchise? Why?

Tough question, but I think that Ann Hornaday makes a compelling point in her review today that Emma Watson comes into her own in this film. But it's just by a nose. This is a Harry-Ron-Hermione vehicle. Nobody else is in more than two scenes. The success of the movie rested completely on their ability to make us believe their relationship, their pain, their kinship.

I've heard conflicting things about part 1 - is it true that it has way more snogging than the previous movie and is a bit more explicit as to ... relations? And does this mean it's darker than the last movie or not?

Actually, I think there was much more snogging in six, with the Harry/Ginny story line. There's one Harry/Ginny snogging scene but that scene is completely stolen by Fred (or is it George?). There's a very tender dancing scene involving Harry and Hermione in the forest but it is the definition of "just friends" and then there's the "necking" scene that plays out of Ron's fears as he's trying to destroy the horcrux. It's very stylized.

It's darker because there's no escaping that this is the windup for the epic battle. And while we all know how it ends, everyone in the movie does a darn good job of convincing us that THEY don't know how it ends. The time in the forest and the visit to Godric's Hollow is just bleak and sad and painful to watch. But it's all those things because you care so deeply about the characters and because the actors and director and screenwriter have been so true to the heart and soul of the story.

What would you suggest for children who are new to the Harry Potter universe do: read the books first or watch the movies first?

This is a total no brainer for me. You read the books first. It's the source material. I think the movies are terrific but let's not forget that this is J.K. Rowling's world. I have twin sons and we started reading the first book as a read-aloud when they were 7. We finished the last book the summer when they were 11 and I wish every kid could have four years of their childhood's defined by the excitement of what was happening next. I think part of the problem is that many 7-year-olds can read the first book on their own but because they are all published now, they are reading the later books as 7 or 8-year-olds and they haven't had the chance to grow up that harry has.

I read somewhere that the actor who plays Dudley has gotten all trim and fit in recent years, to the point of requiring a fat suit, so maybe that's why they skipped the goodbye-to-Dudley scene. It's a shame, though, as it is very eye-opening to see that even such antagonism can fade away as kids grow up.

Dudley's in the movie, for the blink of an eye. Actually, it's Neville (who is also in for just the blink of an eye) who looks like he's grown about two feet and slimmed down.

Is it true that all the ultra scenes are kept only for those characters with red hair, and does that mean that gingers win in Part I - will this make Part II revenge of the gingers?

I'm not sure I agree. It is ultimately Harry's movie and I don't consider him a ginger. But Fred and George (who again are only in a handful of scenes) do steal the ones they're in. (You may never think of a toothbrush quite the same way after seeing this movie).

They arleady filmed the epilogue, and actually are going back to refilm parts of it again because they couldn't get everything the way they wanted the first time, since it was filmed at the train station while the station was operating.

That may in fact be one of the scenes that Yates wants to redo and that scene would probably be easier to reshoot than say the battle. (If Mrs. Weasley doesn't get to use the b-word when she's fighting Bellatrix, I will be totally bummed).

" But the three of them have pulled off TERRIFIC, nuanced, subtle performances that show they are actors worthy of careers." I saw Radcliffe in Equus two years ago--he was incredible. A very, very assured, strong performance. He is going to do just fine, pos-HP.

A number of people have written in to say that Radcliffe was great in Equus. And I really hope he has a great career, but let's face it, we all know what's the first line of his obit.

Not sure where Where to Watch is located, but there are some over-18-only theaters in the U.S. -- generally the more upscale places or the theaters like the Cinema and Drafthouse in Arlington (assuming it's still there). He might want to check out places like that.

Just checked and Cinema and Drafthouse, which is still around, isn't screening it. I understand the anti-kid sentiment but honestly, I think once the strains of the music kick in, everyone will be glued to the screen

I read somewhere that J.K. Rowling wrote the epilogue very early on in the series, maybe even when she was writing the first book. I don't think it was tacked on, but I think that Rowling developed as a writer over the series, so it was kind of jarring to see read her polished work (the last book) and have it end with something comparatively immature.

The epilogue was definitely not the last thing she wrote. And I have to say that I think the beauty of these books is how tightly woven they are. How a seemingly passing reference in book 2 becomes an integral part of book 6. I think lots of people were worried that book 7 couldn't possibly live up to expectations and the fact that it exceeded them speaks for her talent as an author. Is she capable of a clunkily turned phrase? Yes, absolutely. But if there's anything more beautiful or moving or satisfying than the Snape chapter in book 7, I'm not sure what it would be.

It's in part II. Rupert Grint gave an interview where he said they filmed a scene where everyone was grown up, and how Daniel Radcliffe "aged" the best.

I can see where that would be true. Harry seems to have shed all vestiges of boyhood in this one. That's not quite true of Ron, but that's part of his charm. You think that Ron will never quite really grow up.

Regarding the future of the three main actors, I saw Dan Radcliffe in Equus, and not once did I think "Harry " He's grown a lot in his acting abilities and is taking on new challenging roles, and I think he'll do just fine. Rupert, as well, has taken on roles that vary greatly from his character in HP and should do fine with his career as well. Not sure about Emma because she hasn't done as much outside HP, but she has a lot of other irons in the fire.

We'll see. But for now, go and enjoy these really fine young actors truly inhabiting their characters.

I'd much rather find the movie theaters where no cell phones get reception!

Amen. I think there would be a riot if someone's cell went off during this movie

... for everyone who joined in today. Enjoy the movie tonight or this weekend or whenever you see it. And if you're into dressing up, send us your photos. We'll have a gallery of users in costume!

And remember: "Harry is the best hope we have. Trust him."

In This Chat
Tracy Grant
Tracy Grant is editor of KidsPost.
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