Lucy Healy-Kelly takes up arms in Dumbledore’s Army just in time for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
The film’s US release date was Friday July 15th. The day before, the Regal Theater in Union Square had sold out 14 of its 16 screenings (which began at one minute past midnight) and lines had started forming early on Thursday evening. Cheery bunches gathered along 14th and Broadway, setting up camp with their wands and capes and (toy) owls on a balmy summer night. This was not a ‘family’ film event and there were no children in the audience, but instead it was primarily made up of the 20-somethings who grew up alongside Harry, Ron and Hermione. Many came in costume; home made t-shirts with the Deathly Hallows symbol drawn on, lightning bolt earrings, Gryffindor scarves. There was a Dobby the House Elf wearing a large sheet, two menacing Death Eaters, a rather brilliant Professor Trelawney, Luna clutching a homemade copy of the Daily Quibbler and a distinctly Bowie-styled Draco Malfoy. With everyone in their seats 2 hours before the screening began, munching popcorn and kitted out in special Potter shaped 3D specs, there was palpable excitement long before the opening credits (as a friend commented ‘even the Warner Brothers logo is exciting.’)
The books had the advantage of length and scope over the movies to allow the depth of character development which I feel is at the heart of what kept us all hooked for so long. But it is to the credit of some truly talented actors that each character retains such a strong identity and evokes such reaction in the midst of a sprawling plot and a large ensemble cast. Helena Bonham Carter’s gloriously unhinged Bellatrix, Ralph Fiennes channeling pure evil with obvious relish, Alan Rickman’s painfully conflicted Snape – they’re all superb. They were brilliant characters in the first place, and they’ve been realized on screen with such relish and love. Maggie Smith’s MacGonagall and Julie Walter’s Mrs Weasley both have marvellous moments which could draw an air punch of pure pleasure from even the most Harry-weary. This movie really belongs to the young ‘uns though, and our central trio and their friends have come a long way since their Sorcerer’s Stone days. Luna, Ginny, Fred and George and Neville are all a little older (if not necessarily wiser), but it’s sheer joy to watch them have their moments as the Battle of Hogwarts rages. At the Regal’s 12.02 screening, each triumph or downfall is deeply felt, and shared by an enraptured audience in a way that is rare in such a behemoth Summer blockbuster.