Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

J. W. Eagan once famously said ‘Never judge a book by its movie.’ If he has watched Lord of The Rings trilogy, he would have thought differently. Unfortunately, more often than not, book after book, as Hollywood decimates the literary world with its insipid high-octane action-oriented films that ruin the experience for the avid reader, Eagen is proved right. Again and again.

There are good exceptions though. The spectacular example of LOTR aside, I recently saw The Namesake, a very poignant film by Mira Nair, adapted from an equally simple and earthly novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. In every sense, the movie was a fitting tribute to the emotional depth the novel evoked. Watching the film, you knew that Mira Nair had the same experience as you whilst reading it. If that can be true of Nair, if that can be true of a culturally and emotionally complex novel like The Namesake, what could go wrong with Harry Potter, you would wonder.

The difference is, simply, the director. Yates isn’t Nair. His only credit being that he was signed up to do Potter films when no director worth their salt would touch Potter with a ten foot pole. Don’t ask me why. That analysis may require a separate article by itself.

Armed with nothing but a huge budget from Warner Brothers, David Yates delivers just that: a high budget spectacle. The movie utterly lacks the charm, the emotional connection, the tension, the love, the anguish, the banter, and finally the triumph of good over evil of the book. The triumph wasn’t easy, if you will. It took 3400 pages of countless adventures, overcoming unbelievable barriers, winning several battles, big and small, and finally an audacious quest for the horcruxes that seemed absolutely impossible when Dumbledore first proposed the idea to Harry. Whilst reading, I literally screamed out aloud, ‘You’ve got to be joking, professor!’

Well, to everyone’s relief, the battle turned quite a cakewalk in the movie. We all knew Harry would make it, what with millions of dollars from WB and countless CG artists at your disposal. So how does it matter that in the book every tiny bit of plot strands were sewn together carelessly to make such a quest possible and every second turn, Harry was left to face a block of wall that stalled his progress, (where his friends helpfully came to his aid, depending on what was required, whether Ron’s wit or Hermione’s erudite snippets). That she was the Google of magical world never came through the movies. Ron never uttered a memorable line, except ‘You’re mental’ which also he had forgotten in the final part. Understandably, with such an enraged war breaking out in the background!

Those who have read the book quite ardently had their own varied reactions to the films. From the final climax, the much awaited battle between Harry and Voldemort to the secret of Elder Wand to….people keep rueing over the much loved plot revelations that they were excited to discover in the books. The movie recklessly ignores all of them and delivers a B-movie experience from Hollywood that’s reminiscent of those assembly line superhero films you get during summers, that neither has emotional connection nor has a clever script. They are there because someone in Hollywood thought that people are eager to watch action spectacles in summer. Why? Don’t ask me.

In my view, personally, Harry Potter is one of the greatest achievements in English literature. That one writer could hold the attention of the readers for nearly 3400 pages over a period of ten years and finally succeed in satisfying every one of the readers, closing every loose end, answering every question the characters (and readers) had and produce some of the most loved fictitious characters, is incredible. Harry Potter, Ron Weasly, Hermione Granger, Albus Dumbledore, Reubus Hagrid, Sirius Black, Neville Longbottom, Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood, well the list can go on. As someone who has just finished writing a novel, I know what it takes to write a book. Writing seven books of the same story, requires superhuman achievement. Frankly, I am saddened that somebody as ordinary as Yates had to take up this monumental challenge which would have been hugely challenging even for the stature of Steven Spielberg. Thinking on these lines, it’s futile to try to criticise Yates for this fiasco. He is clearly unfit for this and (perhaps) tried his best to deliver what he could. If anything, Warner Brothers must be blamed for its lust for profits and its urgency to make the most of the hype. They could have waited for the right director to come along. At the top of my head, Guillermo Del Toro of Spain would have been an excellent choice but he works at his own pace. That doesn’t bode well for the profit hungry assembly line mentality of Hollywood.

On the consolation side, there’s a thought though: not many would know that a small-time director called Ralph Bakshi made Lord of The Rings at the budget of $8 million in the late seventies. No one was amused. In the light of Peter Jackson’s mind-boggling trilogy, it’s totally forgotten now. My hope is, there would be one remake of Harry Potter in another ten to fifteen years’ time. Hopefully, by a highly talented director with a deeply enshrined love for the book, just like how Jackson started with his love for Tolkein more than anything else.

Then, that love might translate into a really impressive movie.