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Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Deathly Hallows and My (lack of) Catharsis


I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 today.

Throughout the whole movie, I felt like something was ending, something BIG. Later I said to my mum that it didn’t just feel like something had ended. It felt more like a part of ME had ended as well.

I wouldn’t say that any other piece of art has ever quite made this lasting impression in my life. If my life has been a beach walk, the Harry Potter books would be seven footprints behind me, the ones that will never be washed away by the tide. The books have always been –and will always remain- a safe haven. Just like Hogwarts, they’re always there, should I ever need to escape to a familiar and safe place. And the movie I saw today concluded this journey.

Throughout this journey, I have cried and shouted at the books and movies whenever I had felt that someone had cheated me out of something. I protested when they didn’t make a good scene out of Snape’s Worst Nightmare in the Order of the Phoenix. I got mad at the way they tossed Remus and Tonks’ big scene where they profess their feelings at the end of Half-Blood Prince. I even got mad at Rowling herself when she didn’t give my favorite character of the ENTIRE SERIES the courtesy of a decent death scene. Dumbledore, Sirius, and Snape had theirs. So why didn’t Remus Lupin?

So it’s always been a rollercoaster for me: most of the time I loved the whole experience, but sometimes I hated it as well. I let those disappointments bottle up inside because it’s not a big deal, and after all, nobody else complained. But first things first…

What I liked about the second part of Deathly Hallows was almost everything. I cried for the most part because it was not only sad, but emotional as well. End of an era and all.

I cried when Fred died. I cried when I saw Hogwarts falling apart, and everyone fighting to survive. I cried when Remus and Tonks lay down, all frozen and gone. I even choked up when the Snape/Lily scenes rolled, and I got as emotional as the book scene had made me. (You do have your mother’s eyes… Look at me!) Finally, I cried when Harry died, because it didn’t feel like a temporary death. I sat there in the cinema thinking, ‘What if he had died in the books? What then?’ So naturally, I held back the hysterical crying for later because I didn’t want to bother the only other person in the cinema.

What did make a negative impression on me wasn’t the fact that some scenes were rushed or the fact that some transitions were missing. It wasn’t even the fact that I’d decided to drag my mum, who kept asking me who everyone was and what they were doing every 5 minutes. And I didn’t mind the completely different scenes. After all, it’s a movie; it’s supposed to be more visually impressive.

What really stunted my excitement was the scene where Harry kills Voldemort.

I may be alone in this. Most people don’t even remember the part I will refer to in a second. The first time I read the book, I missed the part about how one can save their soul from ending up the way Voldemort’s does eventually. And because it was linked to that final battle scene, I had to go back and read it again. When it all clicked, I was stunned. Speechless. I had never in a million years expected to read something as meaningful and heart-wrenching as this… But first, the explanation:

Harry, Ron, and Hermione are talking about Tom Riddle and his horcruxes:

“Isn’t there any way of putting yourself back together?” Ron asked.
“Yes,” said Hermione with a hollow smile, “but it would be excruciatingly painful.”
“Why? How do you do it?” asked Harry.
“Remorse,” said Hermione. “You’ve got to really feel what you’ve done. There’s a footnote. Apparently the pain of it can destroy you. I can’t see Voldemort attempting it somehow, can you?”
“No,” said Ron before Harry could answer.

--Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, p. 103*, Am. ed., 2007.

Suffice it to say that I had gone back to fish out this gem because I was enthralled with something Harry said to Voldemort just before it was all over, while they were still circling each other:

“Dumbledore’s last plan went wrong, Harry Potter!”
“Yeah, it did,” said Harry. “You’re right. But before you try to kill me, I’d advise you to think about what you’ve done… Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle…”
“What is this?”
Of all the things that Harry had said to him, beyond any revelation or taunt, nothing had shocked Voldemort like this. Harry saw his pupils contract to thin slits, saw the skin around his eyes whiten.
“It’s your one last chance,” said Harry, “it’s all you’ve got left… I’ve seen what you’ll be otherwise… Be a man… try… Try for some remorse…”

--Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, p.741*.

Obviously, it wasn’t in the movie at all.

Okay, maybe it’s a highly subjective scene and not everyone got what I did from it. However, Rowling herself stopped and said ‘nothing had shocked Voldemort like this’. Of course nothing did. Can you imagine someone actually feeling pity for Lord Voldemort? If it were you, would you care about what happens to him? Would you urge this man who had taken so many innocent lives and not blinked to try for remorse? Am I the only one who’s hearing how ridiculous that sounds? And yet, our hero did just that. He said the one thing nobody, and I mean nobody, expected to read at that precise moment of clarity in the book.

Try for some remorse.

You see? All of those moments of honor and good and bravery in Harry’s life suddenly summarized into one sentence. Of an entire manuscript. To me, that line held everything together. It was the perfect moment, and perhaps only I perceived it as such. That’s okay.

What’s not okay was to skip it in the movie. I am aware of the need to cut dispensable scenes or information, and I have never complained… out loud. But this time is different. It would have taken no more than 10 minutes to include it. By failing to do so, it is my belief that they cut the power source of the series out of the movies, and served a dismembered story to the audiences. I sincerely apologize if this is offending to anyone, and I certainly don’t want to be a party pooper, so I’ll say it again: maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m overreacting. 

But when I was watching that final battle I was a mess: crying, popcorn everywhere… So I waited for my catharsis, the end which would conclude MY journey into the world of the boy wizard. Then suddenly, abruptly, I was stripped of this catharsis. The line never came. So I’ll say it here yet again, just to reassure myself that I’ll always have it in my book at least… and now on my blog:

“Be a man… try… Try for some remorse.”

(To quote Dumbledore, You wonderful boy. You brave, brave man.)


And remember:
“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
-J.K. Rowling, 2011.

3000 people camping in the rain for 5 nights. Wow.

*All rights belong to J.K. Rowling. 


Lisa Gail Green said...

Just so you know, I'm crying right now. You know, I saw it last night. And it's funny, I felt wronged in the final battle scene, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Maybe because I'm exhausted. IDK. But you said it so beautifully. It doesn't mean I didn't LOVE it. It doesn't mean I didn't think they did an amazing job. But that VERY IMPORTANT piece was missing.It may sound corny, but it's there though. In our hearts.

Lyn Midnight said...

Awww, it sure is in our hearts! There's no corny when it comes to that. :) And I'm glad I'm not the only one. Same here, loved the movie, just not the final battle. Isn't this the whole point though? *sigh*

Thanks for commenting, Lisa. :)

Ava Jae said...

I think you were perfectly fair (and totally not offensive in the least).

True, they missed what could have been a great moment, but I suppose they felt they couldn't include those extra ten minutes for whatever reason. We'll never know.

Loved the movie, loved the books, though I didn't like that they completely cut little Teddy Lupin out (did you notice Tonks never even got the chance to announce her pregnancy? She was interrupted in mid-sentence in Pt.1 when they were going to announce it.)

Oh well. Overall, I think it was still wonderful.

Nice, fair review. :)

Jen said...

I've hardly watched a book turned into a film that didn't have a pivotal line like this missing. In my former life (where I was Twilight fan) I was severally disappointed in the end of eclipse. The Reason? Bella says the one thing to Jacob that makes him realize they can never be together, she says "I saw it all, and it was perfect, we had kids, a life, but it's not what I want" (of course I'm paraphrasing here.)

But that line to me made the end of eclipse worth reading, but there was no mention of it in the movie, so I suppose I just expect something like this to happen in Harry Potter. I haven't seen it yet (I'm going tonight) but I'm glad I read this so I could be prepared to not care during that scene. At least we still have the books!

Leslie Rose said...

I didn't miss that moment, but now that you point it out I wish it had been there. We see Harry's remorse when Voldemort taunts him about letting friends die for him. Harry heads into the forest to sacrifice himself and rectify that. I would have liked to have seen Voldemort pass up the chance at remorse as a contrast.

Lyn Midnight said...

@Ava Mhm, I'm not even surprised about Tonks and pregnancy. See, that's my issue. They take the human element and cut it out because Hollywood wants action? What kind of logic is that?! Anyway, yes it wasn't that bad, lol. Thanks, Ava! *hugs*

@Jen Ah!!! Sorry for spoiling the movie, Jen, but you shouldn't have read this! *poke* Yeah, this seems to be similar. I have read the books but absolutely hate the movies, so I haven't even watched Eclipse. Today, my mother said I'mm too critical, so I should be a critic. If I had a nickle...

I suppose we all take different things from books and it's virtually impossible for Hollywood to please everyone. That's why we have the books in the first place. Yes, okay. I keep reassuring myself. I just... wished to SEE the story too, you know? Oh well.

Thanks ladies! And enjoy the movie, Jen! It's really not bad... :)

Lyn Midnight said...

@Leslie Yes, exactly! Because sometimes reactions are so important, and not just action and effects. I suppose I just needed more... emotion, you know? Oh well, thanks for stopping by! :)

Executiveredhead said...

Great post and I agree.

I thought the ending was anti-climactic. In the book didnt Harry kill Voldemort in front of everyone? It was a huge deal-they were circling each other, the final showdown-everyone was there in the book. And in the movie he dies and then Harry is just walking around-theres no cheers of the bastard is finally dead!
Thats the part that disappointed me-I wanted to feel more at his demise.

Lyn Midnight said...

Right! That's the issue I forgot to add. Why the HELL weren't there any cheers? Everyone looked dazed, like they were on drugs or something. *shrug* Anti-climactic is right. And yes, it was a big show in the book, but I guess the movies had to serve some unknown purposes. *sniff* I might never let this go, so I should go back to my book. *cling*

Thanks for stopping by, hon! :)

Angela Wallace said...

I haven't seen the movie yet, so can't comment on the atrocious missing elements, but I've found there's always something missing in movie versions of books. Missing or changed. I was quite disappointed with some of the liberties Peter Jackson took with Lord of the Rings. Actually, I was about as incensed as you are now, so I guess your strong protests will fade with time. ;-)

Alivia said...

Lyn. You are amazing.

When I started reading your review, I was thinking maybe you were holding a gripe with the battle scene on the same level I was; how it was all smoke and big bangs and lacking the detailed, draw out emotion JK Rowling so delicately put between each sentence and every underlying meaning. But you just awakened a part of the book I, with regretful honesty, forgot. I had completely forgotten about that piece of information on the horcruxes!

And now, I'm even more annoyed with the movie's Harry/Voldemort battle scene. They totally could have cut out the bandy sleeves event to make room for this piece of information. UGH.

Emily Moir said...

I understand what you're saying about them passing up those really human moments. Personally, I'm a Neville fan. I've always been disappointed in the way the movies have handled him and was sad to see them forgo the power in the scene where he takes out Nagini for a more "action filled" end. Anyhow, I'll stop here because I could really rant on the subject.

Sean said...

Wow. All of this has put into words what held me back from fully enjoying HP7. I knew I wasn't the only one! Thanks, guys!

I'd add that all of the characters were distant for me. I explain in more detail at

Lyn, this doesn't overlap with my guest post. The guest post is about the books, not the movie.

Carissa Elg said...

You just had to put that video in there... *sobs*

There are always nuances left out in an adaptation. For me, I deliberately didn't reread the book so I could enjoy the movie. They are separate works of art.

If people want to grasp all the little details, I feel they need to take the time to actually read the books. Go to the source. Understand Rowling's message straight from the source.

That said, an extra 10 minutes wouldn't hurt. ;)

Sonia Quinones said...

That's it exactly! I just saw it last night and was wondering why I felt the final battle scene and the moments immediately afterward felt so, well, blah.

@Clarissa, I refused to re-read the book for the same reason. Movie adaptations need to be viewed on their own merit.

Lyn Midnight said...

@Angela Haha, I know I know. I usually never give voice to those because they are in different formats. I just made an exception this time because believe this was the whole point... Again, maybe just me.

@Alivia Aww, I'm sorry to add to your angry list. I'm a bit over it now, but I watched the first part of Deathly Hallows last night and realized how GREAT it was, which only makes me wonder why they did what they did with the second part.

@Emily Oh yeah, I noticed that too. See, there are always those things we are fond of that they butcher in the movies. I knew that. I suppose maybe watching movie adaptations isn't always the best idea...

@Sean I read the post you refer to, and I agree. The human element was lacking, which was absolutely present in the first part. Maybe they just wanted to make the final battle what it was: action. Thankfully, Rowling did not do this in the books. Bless her. ^_^

@Carissa I know what you're saying. Really. And if I had to list the little details that were different, I'd be a fool and go crazy. ;) But I truly believe that this is not a little detail, and that's why I wrote about it. Hmm, I reckon everyone had a catharsis-moment in the book they wanted to see in the movie. Oh well. Moving on. :P

@Sonia Good point. I didn't read the book either. And was still disappointed. It goes to say that some moments remain with us forever. This is the true strength of the series. Again, bless Jo for giving it to us. :)

Thank you all for commenting. I learned a lot from each of your perspectives! And there will be more Potter this week (not to mention Pottermore), so stay tuned. *grouphug*

Erin said...

I don't think you are overreacting at all. I was just thunderstruck that, to my mind, they completely changed the ending and stripped it of half its power. In the book, Harry had, in effect, already won. There was no fury or panic; it was just him calmly offering Voldemort one shot at redemption before his inevitable defeat. It was the ultimate expression of the power of love over hatred.

Then again, I wasn't that surprised because so many of my favorite moments to that effect had been omitted, like the tiny reconciliation between Harry and Dudley and Harry's powerful rebuke of Lupin after he scolded him for giving himself away by not killing Stan Shunpike in the Seven Potters scene: "I won't blast people out of my way just because they're there. That's Voldemort's job." Early in the book he's grudgingly accepting his former tormentor's peace offering, shortly followed by risking his life to spare someone unwittingly in league with his enemy, and finally at the end of the book we see him willing to extend mercy to the man he spent the entire series fighting against. Yes, I needed that catharsis too. Beautifully expressed. :)