Entertainment Magazine: Film: 2010: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" Part 1: Production Notes

Movie Production Notes

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" THE END BEGINS

(L-r) BILL NIGHY as Rufus Scrimgeour, EMMA WATSON as Hermione Granger, RUPERT GRINT as Ron Weasley and DANIEL RADCLIFFE as Harry Potter in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 1," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo by Jaap Buitendijk.



From the moment he was introduced, people all over the globe have thrilled to the adventures of Harry Potter, the boy wizard who changed both literary and cinema history.

For more than a decade, David Heyman has been immersed in that magical world, as the producer of all the films based on the best-selling books by J.K. Rowling, who also served as a producer on the film adaptation of her seventh and final title, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows."

But as Heyman approached the last installment in the record-breaking film franchise, he realized that it presented some unique challenges, not the least of which was how to encompass all of the series' interwoven story threads as they sped toward the climactic conclusion.

Breaking from the tradition of the film series, the decision was made to split "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" into two full-length parts. "When Steve Kloves began working on the screenplay, it became clear we would have to omit too much to do justice to Jo's book in one film," Heyman explains. "There were simply too many details that were integral to the resolution of the series."

Producer David Barron adds, "With the previous books, the decision was always to follow Harry's journey, so it was possible to pinpoint specific scenes that, while immensely enjoyable to read, didn't necessarily advance his story. However, the seventh book is all about resolution--the dotting of all the i's and the crossing of all the t's."

Daniel Radcliffe, who plays the title role of Harry Potter, offers, "The intricacy of the plot Jo had mapped out from the beginning is a fantastic feat of storytelling. It has twists and turns, mystery and romance, comedy and action...all the brilliant things people have responded to over the years. It was the only way we could tell the story in a complete and fulfilling way."

Helming his third Harry Potter feature, David Yates says that Part 1 of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" also breaks tradition by taking the central characters away from the familiar surroundings of Hogwarts. It is actually the first film in the franchise in which the iconic School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is never even seen. "I think that's one of the most intriguing things about Part 1," the director states. "We're away from the magical environment of Hogwarts, which felt very safe even when the characters were in utter jeopardy. Suddenly Harry, Ron and Hermione are trying to survive out in the big, bad world, and it's a dangerous place. They feel isolated and alone and very vulnerable. It makes the adventure much edgier and more grownup, which really appealed to me, and to Dan, Rupert and Emma as well."

Radcliffe attests, "I think it gives the film a more adult tone because it's harder to see us as school kids when we're no longer at school."

Reprising the role of Ron Weasley, Rupert Grint comments, "Away from the safety of Hogwarts and the protection of their parents and teachers, anything can happen. They can be attacked at any moment, which gives the film a different energy."

"Harry, Hermione and Ron don't have a home anymore," notes Emma Watson, who returns to the part of Hermione Granger. "They are always on the move and, worse, they are being hunted, so they don't know who to trust. But the stakes are high, so they have to be brave."

In fact, the stakes have never been higher as the fates of both the Wizarding world and the Muggle world rest in their young hands. Having learned the secret to Voldemort's power and immortality, Harry is on a mission to track down the Horcruxes: items in which the Dark Lord has hidden pieces of his very soul. If even one remains, Voldemort can never be defeated. Two of the Horcruxes have already been destroyed--Tom Riddle's diary and the ring that belonged to Marvolo Gaunt, Riddle's maternal grandfather. Harry and Dumbledore believed they had located the third Horcrux, Salazar Slytherin's locket, but it turned out to be a fake, and the real one stolen by someone with the initials R.A.B.

And the others...? The problem is the Horcruxes can be virtually anywhere or in anything. "I don't think Harry understands how little he has to go on when he sets out," Barron says. "He just knows he has a job to do, and he has to get on with it. And Ron and Hermione would never abandon him, so it becomes a huge journey for the three of them, physically and emotionally."

The trail of the Horcruxes also has unexpected consequences for Harry, as it discloses some painful truths about Dumbledore's past. The revelation that his beloved mentor and teacher, at one time, had more in common with Voldemort than Harry ever imagined causes the young wizard to begin to doubt his own belief in the man he had respected so much.

"The more Harry finds out about Dumbledore that he hadn't known or that he feels had been kept from him, the more his trust is eroded," Radcliffe relates.

"It becomes a crisis of faith for Harry," Yates confirms. "What makes it doubly difficult for him is that Dumbledore gave him this mission without a clear plan--or really any idea at all--of how to fulfill it, which is putting his friends in jeopardy. It leads to a real test of their relationship, which is another interesting element of the story."

"I've always believed that, for all the magic and action and adventure of the Harry Potter stories, at the heart it's about these characters," Heyman emphasizes. "In this film, their relationship is more complex than ever, and in exploring them more deeply, Dan, Rupert and Emma are better than ever."

Yates agrees, adding that Radcliffe, Grint and Watson felt a strong sense of responsibility towards the roles they inhabited for almost half their lives. "They knew intuitively how their characters would respond to certain things, often much better than we did. I love that about them. As a director, it was wonderful to engage with them because there were times I wasn't just talking to the actor; I was actually talking to the character."


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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)

by J. K. Rowling (Author), Mary GrandPré (Illustrator)

Amazon.com: Readers beware. The brilliant, breathtaking conclusion to J.K. Rowling's spellbinding series is not for the faint of heart--such revelations, battles, and betrayals await in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows that no fan will make it to the end unscathed. Luckily, Rowling has prepped loyal readers for the end of her series by doling out increasingly dark and dangerous tales of magic and mystery, shot through with lessons about honor and contempt, love and loss, and right and wrong. Fear not, you will find no spoilers in our review--to tell the plot would ruin the journey, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is an odyssey the likes of which Rowling's fans have not yet seen, and are not likely to forget. But we would be remiss if we did not offer one small suggestion before you embark on your final adventure with Harry--bring plenty of tissues.

The heart of Book 7 is a hero's mission--not just in Harry's quest for the Horcruxes, but in his journey from boy to man--and Harry faces more danger than that found in all six books combined, from the direct threat of the Death Eaters and you-know-who, to the subtle perils of losing faith in himself. Attentive readers would do well to remember Dumbledore's warning about making the choice between "what is right and what is easy," and know that Rowling applies the same difficult principle to the conclusion of her series. While fans will find the answers to hotly speculated questions about Dumbledore, Snape, and you-know-who, it is a testament to Rowling's skill as a storyteller that even the most astute and careful reader will be taken by surprise.

A spectacular finish to a phenomenal series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a bittersweet read for fans. The journey is hard, filled with events both tragic and triumphant, the battlefield littered with the bodies of the dearest and despised, but the final chapter is as brilliant and blinding as a phoenix's flame, and fans and skeptics alike will emerge from the confines of the story with full but heavy hearts, giddy and grateful for the experience. --Daphne Durham

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