3 minutes, 30 seconds. That's how long I lasted in watching Harry Potter 7 Part 1 before crying. I was crying again at 22 minutes, and again at the 34 minute mark.
First, a note on spoilers. I have to assume if you're reading this post you either haven't read the books and don't care (or you would have read them by now for crying out loud) or are seeking information about the movies. If what I say next surprises you in any way or diminishes your enjoyment of the movie because it's a spoiler, well freaking leave this post til you've seen the movie and then come back! Okay? I don't want to be twitchy about not spoiling it for anyone. This is the seventh movie of the most popular book series ever (at least in my opinion) - if you don't know what's going to happen and are going to get upset about finding it out...read this later!
Okay, now that that's sorted...
One more administrative point because someone is sure to ask -- the reason we got to see the movie tonight was we were invited to attend as guests at a corporate event. Friend of a friend kind of thing. No, there weren't extra tickets, sorry.
The 22 minute mark was Hedwig. Oh, Hedwig. :(
The three and a half minute mark was something that isn't dramatized in the book at all, but was done beautifully. It's Hermione, obliviating her parents. Tears just slipped out as I watched her face, and then the blankness on the actors' faces, and as the pictures of her throughout the room fade away.
I cried again at about the 34 minute mark (by now I'm just guessing, because I didn't write it all down...) when the death eaters have caught up with Ron, Harry, and Hermione at the coffee shop in London, and the three decide to erase the memories of the bad guys (after some debate.) The look on Hermione's face as she casts the obliviate spell.
Ah, this is what we watch these movies for. Torturing ourselves with the growth, the pain, the knowledge of what that one spell means for her, what she's had to give up, what they've all had to give up, what's at stake.
Over and over, the movie rewarded me, an ardent fan whose read the books each twice, and books 1-6 somewhere north of four or five times each. The movie rewarded me with knowing more than just what was on the screen, knowing why these things mattered, how much they mattered.
It made it so that when Bellatrix threw the knife as Dobby house-elf-disapparated the crew and there was a swirl of indistinct color, I was crying already because I knew what had happened.
Yes, I cried on and off the whole movie. I cried when Hedwig died, when Ron's dad and George embraced upon returning to the Burrow early-on, having successfully evaded the death eaters, when we saw a replay of Dumbledore's falling scene from movie 6, when Hermione, with hands bloody after Ron was splinched in one of their narrow escapes, stands up to set the protective spells, when Ron left, when Cedric died. Oh, scratch that last - different movie. But even bringing up the memory makes me tear up a little. Cedric before he was Edward. The book makes me cry there, too.
How was the movie? This is a hard question to answer. I was engrossed, the whole time. I was extremely annoyed when I discovered I needed to pee about 40 minutes in (how many crying episodes did I miss with that four minute potty break?) I can't stop thinking about Hermione obliviating her parents. I love it when the filmmakers surprise me like that. It's on par with the scene with Slughorn in movie 6 where he tells the story about the fish that Lily gave him that just poofed one day (the day she died.)
The movie was wonderful. It was tremendously sad. There was a lot of action. There were some really funny bits (as is typical, Fred and George get most of the best parts.)
It was just over 2 hours. They didn't bloat it with a ton of exposition, in fact there were times where the camera lingered on one of the main character's faces and we were left to fill in the massive blanks based on our knowledge of the books. I think the movies are still probably enjoyable for people who haven't read the books, but more as a visual feast than as a storyline that makes sense. But I think it's great that the filmmakers did something that I as a writer find so incredibly hard to do - they Resisted the Urge to Explain. It's worth studying how they did pack so much content (and even with so much content there's so much that's not dramatized, the bust of Rowena Ravenclaw is in Lovegood's house but nobody notices nor makes any connection to it, for example.) into just two hours and a bit (two twenty I think?)
What's missing? What's in the book but not on film? Well, part of George (Fred?)'s ear, for starters. He gets a torn ear, but it's not missing the way the book depicts. The scene with the Dursleys at the beginning is incredibly short, and Dudley doesn't get to tell Harry he doesn't think he's a waste of space.
Hogwarts is completely missing, though that matches with the book for the most part. Neville has a delicious cameo when he stands up to the Death Eaters who stop the Hogwarts Express to tell them Harry's not there.
Oddly, the Invisibility Cloak isn't there (or if it is it was only used during the scene when I had to take a potty break) - it's odd only because the Deathly Hallows are introduced late in the movie, the elder wand, the resurrection stone, the true cloak of invisibility.
There's no Krum, the radio show they listen to isn't obviously Lee Johnson, they don't meet up with Dean, nor hear about the goblin and the fake sword of Griffendor (instead, this is treated at Malfoy Manor when the kids are brought before Bellatrix and Lucius, and Bellatrix goes on one of her crackpot-got-hit-with-the-crazy-stick rages about how the sword was removed from her vault. No idea if the second movie will talk about the fake sword or not. Doubtful because by this point they have used the sword to destroy the locket.)
The movie takes us through about page 476 of the book. There's still a lot of book left, the Gringott's vault, the dragon, the battle for hogwarts, Harry dying, loads more opportunities for me to cry. But this piece did resolve well. We're left knowing it's open, but having seen closure of Dobby's death, and Ron returned. The movie ends with Voldemort taking the Elder wand from Dumbledore's grave, and it feels like the right place.
Now, a bit about ages. We were there with two 9 year olds and an almost seven year old - who have listened to all seven books on audio, though it's been more than a year since we did. The movie ran a bit past bedtime, and Anastasia started getting fidgety after about 40 minutes. I do think, though she's mature and can handle much of what movies can throw at her in terms of action and intensity, it was a bit too intense for her. There were a pair of five or six year olds next to us and I really wondered whether they enjoyed it at all.
I think a solid understanding of the books is necessary to really appreciate the plot, since much of it speeds by you otherwise. The action sequences are phenomenal, the movies have grown up just as the characters have, everything was extremely polished, very high quality. The way they portray death eaters as moving on puffs of black smoke is so cool. There's even a car chase, though this being Harry Potter, it involves Harry and Hagrid in Sirius' flying motorcycle with sidecar and swirling death eaters.
The 9 year olds did great, they sat in front of us and were absorbed the whole time, though I did hear them explain things to each other from time to time. I think if you're going to take a younger one, make sure to go early enough in the day that you're not bumping up against bedtime like we were. I do think part of what was troubling for her, though, was that she was able to anticipate the upcoming events and was scared in advance, or didn't like the idea that the characters were going to get caught momentarily. We worked through it.
There were a few spots that were startling that it's worth being aware of. When they first set foot in Grimmald place (there's warning because the building unpacks from the two next to it first) -- there's that Dumbledore scare charm that's startling. The bit in Godric's Hollow with the woman who has been possessed by Nagini. The snake comes back for a last try at getting Harry and Hermione and that's shocking as well. Early on the Muggle Studies teacher is killed mostly on-camera, and then there's a horrible anticipation after Voldy tells the snake that dinner's ready (and the snake snaps at the camera ultra-close.) Thankfully the darn thing is very obviously a computer image or I wouldn't be able to sit through the movie! There's a lot of dark stuff, even the retelling of the Tale of Three Brothers is dark, though beautifully done with a shadow-puppet style animation. It features a large towering figure of death, an implied knifing, and a hanging. Not your average Saturday afternoon at the movies fare for tots, get a sitter for the littlest ones, I recommend.
But for the rest of us? The Harry Potter fans? The college kids who started reading HP when they were 10 and 11? The people who stayed up way past their bedtime, reading "one more chapter" even when dawn started creeping? The kids who didn't like to read til they picked up a HP book? The people who've devoted days and weeks of their lives to living mentally at Hogwarts, devouring the books and movies over and over?
It's immensely satisfying.
What about you? Have you seen the movie? Do you agree? What impression did you come away with?