Now that the cast have trodden a rather rain-sodden red carpet in Leicester Square, CMCI’s Dr Richard Howells is able to reveal his thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” Part One) which premiered on November 11. Howells has so far been keeping deliberately quiet as he actually saw the film at a cast and crew preview screening four days before the official opening, but like everyone else there was sworn to secrecy.
Warner Brothers take this all very seriously. Even before the producers and director took to the stage to introduce the Sunday morning preview, they were preceded by a company man who warned everyone that there must be no blogging, Face-booking, Tweeting or anything else for that matter before the film was shown to the public. The audience had already handed in their mobile phones and gone through airport-style body scanning for hidden recording devices on the way in, and were finally warned that security guards with night vision glasses would be patrolling the cinema aisles.
Clearly this is serious stuff –as Stephen Fry found out when he ill-advisedly “Tweeted” photographs from the studio set the previous week. Howells, too, has toured the Harry Potter set, but neither took nor distributed photographs because as part of his agreement with the studio, had promised not to.
Oh yes –the film. Howells can now reveal that he liked it very much. It’s darker and much more serious than its predecessors. There is no Hogwarts here -this is no longer a ripping boarding school adventure. There are underlying themes of state Fascism in response to the terror unleashed by Lord Voldemort, and there is more than a nod to Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” in places. Yes: the film is in danger of dragging in places (“the wilderness years”) and it certainly helps already to know the books (or at least the films). It’s certainly popular culture rather than art-house, but there are still some effective moments- look out for Harry and Hermione’s touchingly awkward teenage dance.
Of course, Part One is primarily a set up for the franchise-concluding Part Two. This will be especially interesting as Howells will tell anyone who will listen that, in his opinion, JK Rowling wimped out on the ending to the final book. But even if he knew how it worked out in the film, he would not tell you. Yet.