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
Like Harry Potter, Lord Voldemort is also on a mission: to end the life of "the Boy Who Lived." Yates says, "Voldemort is on the cusp of absolute power. He's been hiding in the shadows, biding his time until he could come back and impose his will on the rest of the world. Everything else in his master plan has come together; he just needs to deal with this one tiny detail. Voldemort doesn't understand how this 'child' has become his strongest adversary, but he does know he must be the one to kill Harry Potter. First of all, it was destined and, secondly, there is the sheer satisfaction of it after being thwarted so often. It's beyond personal at this point."
Photo: (L-r) RALPH FIENNES as Lord Voldemort and JASON ISAACS as Lucius Malfoy in Warner Bros. Pictures' fantasy adventure "HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS - PART 1," a Warner Bros. Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
Ralph Fiennes, who is virtually unrecognizable in the role of Lord Voldemort, says that his character is "driven by a deep rage. The only thing that fires him up is power and more power--the ability to control, to manipulate and to destroy people. It's his addiction."
Yates remarks, "Ralph is very scary when he's playing Voldemort. He has the capacity to tune into some very dark places as an actor; you can literally feel the temperature in the room drop as he inhabits the character."
The Death Eaters regard the Dark Lord with a mixture of reverence and fear, knowing he needs little provocation to turn on even his most loyal followers. If they need a reminder of that threat, it is there in the companion always at Voldemort's side--and the only living creature Voldemort treats with actual tenderness--the great snake named Nagini.
Voldemort has summoned his most elite Death Eaters to Malfoy Manor to plan when, where and how to ambush Harry Potter. The last to arrive is Severus Snape, played by Alan Rickman. "Every time I watch Alan as Snape, I am amazed at the complexity and all the nuances of his performance," says Heyman. "He can convey humor and venom in the same breath. And in this film, you begin to sense the tremendous burden of the secret Snape is carrying."
Snape informs those assembled when Harry will be leaving his Privet Drive home, warning them that he will be "given every protection" by the Order of the Phoenix. Nevertheless, Fiennes states, "Voldemort believes he is finally going to defeat Harry Potter. He is enjoying his rule, emperor-like."
However, Voldemort has discovered that he cannot kill Harry Potter with his own wand. He has extracted from wand maker Ollivander (John Hurt) that his and Harry's wands are "twins," possessing the same core and thereby robbing them of their power against each other. In a voice dripping with thinly veiled malice, he suggests that Lucius Malfoy have the "honor" of giving up his wand to Voldemort.
"Wands are an important part of the story in 'The Deathly Hallows'--wand law and how personal they are to wizards," Yates specifies. "The properties of wands make them almost like characters in their own right. In the very first book, we learned from Ollivander that 'the wand chooses the wizard'; to them, losing a wand can be like losing a part of oneself. So when Voldemort took Lucius Malfoy's wand, it was like taking his manhood, something that was vital to his self worth."
When we met Lucius Malfoy in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," he was a pompous wizard who did not bother to hide his disdain for most everyone he felt was beneath him, and who was raising his son, Draco, in his image. But he has returned from a brief imprisonment at Azkaban a shadow of his former self. He must now silently endure the fact that he has been replaced at the head of his family table, and his own home has been commandeered by Voldemort as his headquarters.
Jason Isaacs, who again assumes the role of Lucius Malfoy, says the loss of his wand may be only the latest comeuppance to befall Lucius, but it is, by far, the worst. "To take a wizard's wand is to completely undermine him, and not only does Voldemort take it, but he also snaps off the snake head--a flashy, personal family adornment--and flings it on the table like a piece of dirt, which emasculates Lucius in front of all the other Death Eaters. Lucius had always been an incredibly vain and arrogant peacock; he'd always assumed he'd stand with Voldemort as his right-hand man. But after being broken by prison, after Draco failed in his mission to kill Dumbledore, and after this public humiliation, he has no idea what the future holds for him...if he has a future. All-in-all, a just reward."
Seated next to his father, Draco Malfoy is dealing with misgivings of his own. Once the arrogant young bully of Slytherin, he is now faced with the cold-blooded reality of being a Death Eater. Tom Felton, who plays Draco, offers, "In the last film, we saw that, despite wanting to be the protégé of his father, to be the evil 'Chosen One,' if you will, Draco doesn't have it in him in the slightest. He's realizing that these are not the sort of people he wants to associate himself with, but he doesn't really have a choice in the matter. Make no mistake; Draco is not a nice guy by any standards. But he's definitely questioning what he's witnessing, and not even he has a clue what he's ultimately going to do. We have a few opportunities to explore that in the story, which was really interesting for me as an actor."
Draco's aunt, Bellatrix Lestrange, has no such compunctions. Returning to the part, Helena Bonham Carter declares that Bellatrix is in her glory as Voldemort's most obsequious and bloodthirsty disciple. "She just loves his supremacy, his superiority and particularly his no-nose. It's so sexy," she laughs. "Bellatrix is a fanatic, not to mention completely mad. She has no limits; she's always full-out so she took all my energy. It could be quite exhausting, but that's a big part of why she was so much fun to play."
"Helena had a ball with this character," Barron says. "I think it's a testament to her skill that she makes us love Bellatrix even though she's a nasty piece of work."
With Voldemort in control, the danger reaches beyond Harry Potter to everyone associated with him, as well as their families. Being wizards, the Weasleys are able to fight magic with magic, but Harry's and Hermione's Muggle families are especially vulnerable.
To save her parents, Hermione makes an impossible choice. In a scene that is only alluded to in the book, she leaves her home behind, taking her parents' memories of their only child with her. Watson says, "Hermione knows that by siding with Harry she is putting her parents in danger. The only way she can protect them is by completely cutting them off, so she removes their memories of her, which is tragic because she is losing her mum and dad forever. I was really charmed by the way Steve Kloves wrote the scene. It was moving and also brings home the magnitude of the sacrifice Hermione, and also Ron, are making for their friend Harry."
While it is decidedly less of a sacrifice, Harry must also say goodbye to his Muggle family: his insufferable Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin, Dudley. As the Dursleys drive away from their now-empty home on Privet Drive, Harry doesn't have long to reminisce about his childhood spent in the cupboard under the stairs.
A noise at the front door alerts him to the arrival of his security escort: Ron and Hermione; Arthur Weasley; Mad-Eye Moody; Tonks and Lupin; twins Fred and George Weasley; their oldest brother, Bill, and his fiancé, Fleur Delacour; Mundungus Fletcher; Kingsley Shacklebolt; and last, but never least, Rubeus Hagrid. They have all come to transport Harry to a safe house.
There is no safety in numbers when battling Death Eaters, so Mad-Eye has devised a decoy scheme. Six of the group will take Polyjuice Potion, resulting in seven identical "Harry Potters" departing in seven different directions. "The name of the game is confusion," states Brendan Gleeson, who plays Mad-Eye Moody, the leader of the group. "Mad-Eye may be a bit daft, but he's a force to be reckoned with. He's a man of limited sentimentality, but there is a certain poignancy to the fact that beneath his gruff exterior, his heart has always been in the right place."
The scene presented both a filmmaking and acting challenge. As Hermione, Ron, Fred, George, Fleur and Mundungus morphed into six counterfeit Harrys, Radcliffe had to portray their individual personas. The actor clarifies, "The Polyjuice Potion transforms them into Harry on the outside. It doesn't change who they really are, so I had to do a bit of impersonation of the other characters."
"We had each of the actors play out the scene so Dan could observe them," Yates adds. "For example, we discovered that Andy Linden, who plays Mundungus, walks as if he's on skis, so I asked Dan to exaggerate that slightly. Normally, I prefer actors to look for the truth--be natural and the camera will find the performance. But in this instance, I realized it would be more playful to push it. So the truth took a backseat," he smiles. "I kept telling Dan, 'Just work it.' I think he really enjoyed that."
From a technical standpoint, Yates, visual effects supervisor Tim Burke, and cinematographer Eduardo Serra utilized a Motion Control rig to capture multiple passes as Radcliffe portrayed each of Harry's "doubles." The shots were then melded together to complete the illusion that seven Harry Potters were occupying the same room at the same time. The director recounts, "It was very time consuming. The whole thing took about three days and almost 100 takes to complete."
As soon as all of the decoys are identically dressed and appropriately bespectacled, each Harry is partnered with another member of the team as his protector. Bringing him full circle, the real Harry is paired with Hagrid, who had delivered him to Number 4 Privet Drive as a baby. Once again playing the part of the beloved half-giant, Robbie Coltrane comments, "It was Hagrid who brought him there 16 years before. It was Hagrid who told Harry he was a wizard and informed him of his very important place in the Wizarding world. They have always had a very special relationship, so it's only fitting that he be the one to take Harry away."
Some of the pairs fly away on brooms, others on the winged horse-like creatures called thestrals, but Harry is relegated to the sidecar of the same motorbike in which Hagrid had brought him to Privet Drive years ago. Almost as soon as they take off, the Death Eaters are upon them, leading to a breakneck chase through the air and down onto the streets, careening in and around cars.
Muggle drivers are completely oblivious to their presence; otherwise, they would be astounded to see the gravity-defying motorbike reeling up and along the walls of traffic tunnels. The tunnel section of the chase was filmed at two separate locations: Dartford Tunnel, in London; and the Mersey Tunnel, in Liverpool. Accomplishing the action-packed pursuit involved a close collaboration between the director, the cast and the behind-the-scenes team, including Tim Burke, second unit director Stephen Woolfenden, special effects supervisor John Richardson, and stunt coordinator Greg Powell.
Powell himself served as the stunt double for Hagrid, admitting, "I volunteered myself for the job because the other stunt guys are not as big as me. I started to regret it though when I put the costume on because it gets so hot. We'd have to turn the fans on because the goggles would steam up and I couldn't see."
Richardson and his team configured several motorcycles and facsimiles, based on how they were going to be utilized, with the comfort and safety of the actors coming first and foremost. He details, "We had motorbikes that could roar down the road, others to fit onto Motion Control rigs, and another for the scene where it turns upside-down in the tunnel, which was rigged to revolve against a green screen. We also built a bike to sustain the crash landing into the reed bed at the Burrow. Several of the motorbikes had padded seats with harnesses that were securely mounted to the frame so that we could throw them around without any risk to life and limb."
The seven Harrys and their guardians head for the Weasley home, which was burned by Death Eaters in the last film. In rebuilding the Burrow, production designer Stuart Craig and his team made sure to preserve the family's eclectic style. "It has new timbers and it's freshly painted, so it's less eccentric than it was before...but only slightly," Craig grins.
Arriving at the Burrow, Harry is reunited with Mrs. Weasley, played by Julie Walters, and Ginny Weasley, whose relationship with Harry has blossomed into an unabashed romance. Bonnie Wright, who reprises the role says that, despite her concerns, "Ginny has an understanding of what Harry has to do, and she is willing to let him go and to wait for him to return to her."
When only six of the seven pairs that left Little Whinging make it to the Burrow, it becomes apparent that the escape has come at a high price. Two friends have been lost and George Weasley badly wounded by a blast that took off his left ear. The twins handle it, however, with their trademark humor. "They always try to make the best of things," confirms Oliver Phelps, who plays George. "The good news is people can now tell the difference between them."
"It could have been worse. Actually, I think it's quite an improvement on him," teases James Phelps, who portrays Fred.
The Weasley family and friends can't dwell on tragedy as they gather to celebrate the wedding of eldest son, Bill, and the lovely Fleur Delacour. A newcomer to the cast, Domhnall Gleeson, who plays Bill, already had a familial connection to the franchise, being the son of Brendan Gleeson. Clémence Poésy appears as Fleur, who competed in the Tri-Wizard Tournament in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire." Another newlywed couple attending the wedding are the werewolf Lupin and his wife, Tonks, played by David Thewlis and Natalia Tena, respectively.
The wedding is held in a magnificent tent, magically raised by Arthur Weasley (Mark Williams). Juxtaposed with the Burrow, the elegant affair is in obvious contrast to the Weasleys' tastes. "But," Craig counters, "we came to the conclusion that the wedding would have been paid for by the bride's family, so it's more in the French Delacour style. Of course, there are also magical elements, like the champagne glasses that fill themselves."
Before the wedding gets underway, an uninvited guest arrives: the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, whom we first see delivering a rallying speech to the Wizarding world at the start of the film. Cast in the role of Scrimgeour, Bill Nighy jokes that his addition to the ensemble was long overdue. "For a while, I thought I would be the only English actor of a certain age who wasn't in a Harry Potter film. It was sweet to finally be a part of it, but the fact that David Yates was directing made it doubly attractive. He's one of the smartest and coolest directors around, so I'm always eager to work with him."
Yates was equally delighted to welcome Nighy to the cast. "Bill is such a versatile actor, and I've always wanted him to be in this world. When the part of Rufus Scrimgeour came along, I thought, 'That's Bill!' The way Jo describes the character, he's like a rusty old lion of a soldier, and I knew Bill could play that so well."
"Rufus had been an Auror and therefore a soldier, and now he's been required to adapt uneasily to the world of politics," says Nighy.
Scrimgeour is not there for the nuptials. He has come to deliver presents of a different sort: the final bequests of Albus Dumbledore to Harry Potter and, perhaps more surprisingly, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
"It's somewhat puzzling," Emma Watson affirms, "because Ron and Hermione never really had a close relationship with Dumbledore, other than when Harry, Hermione and Ron were in trouble. He left Hermione a children's book, The Tales of Beetle the Bard, which would, on its face, appear to be because he knew she likes books."
To Ron, "Dumbledore leaves a thing called a Deluminator," Rupert Grint reveals. "You click it and it sucks all the light out of the room and when you click it again, it sort of shoots the light back out. Ron thinks it's cool, but none of them are quite sure what to make of it."
Finally, to Harry, Dumbledore leaves the Snitch, the golden, winged orb he caught in his first Quidditch match at Hogwarts. But that's not all. Professor Dumbledore also bequeathed to Harry the sword of Godric Gryffindor. Unfortunately, the sword is missing, and it appears the Minister would have been reluctant to hand the valuable artifact over to Harry even if he'd had it on hand.
"As they receive the bequests, all three believe there is some meaning behind them...something that is going to be of great significance," Radcliffe observes. "For the time being, they are left with more questions than answers, which is particularly frustrating to Harry."
In the meantime, there is a wedding to attend, which reunites old friends and introduces some new ones, including Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna's father and the editor of The Quibbler, "an underground publication that bravely champions Harry Potter and his cause," offers Rhys Ifans, the actor cast in the role. "He lost his wife, so he is a single father and he dotes on his daughter. They both inhabit the same kooky, creative world."
David Heyman notes, "Evanna (Lynch) brought such an idiosyncratic and original approach to the character of Luna that we needed someone who could mirror her eccentricity. As soon as Rhys's name was mentioned, we knew he'd be wonderful in the part."
At the reception, Harry is drawn into an exchange between two of Dumbledore's peers: Elphias Doge, who wrote his obituary for the Daily Prophet, and the Weasley's Aunt Muriel. Their conversation soon turns to Rita Skeeter's unauthorized and unflattering biography, The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, which begins to let Harry in on some unknown, and somewhat disturbing, facts about Dumbledore's history, including that he had lived in Godric's Hollow, the same place Harry was born and where his parents were murdered.
Barron remarks, "Harry learns that there's a side to Dumbledore that he'd never suspected, and may not be particularly likeable, and it's uncomfortable for him. Harry knew Dumbledore was fallible, but he's starting to realize how much was withheld from him and can't help but wonder why."
Before Harry can get answers to his many questions, the stunning news arrives:
The Ministry has fallen... They are coming.
The reference to they needs no explanation. Within seconds, the Death Eaters begin their attack, and Harry, Ron and Hermione are barely able to escape.
NOWHERE IS SAFE
The trio Apparates to Shaftsbury Avenue in the heart of London's bustling Piccadilly Circus and the West End theatre district. The scene was shot on the actual site, which Watson says was "surreal. It was incredible to see traffic at a standstill on one of the busiest streets in one of the biggest cities in the world."
Although the filming was done in the pre-dawn hours, hundreds of fans turned out to catch a glimpse of the cast. "The fans were terrific," Heyman states. "They didn't intrude and really got into the spirit of it. Shooting in such a busy location was not without its challenges, but we also had a great time."
Yates agrees. "It was actually very touching that there were so many people standing out there for so long at that hour of the night. It was a wonderful thing."
In a nod to Radcliffe's recent stage work, astute moviegoers might notice an "Equus" poster on the wall of the café where the three briefly stop to regroup. But their respite is short-lived, as they are nearly ambushed. Hunted in both the Wizarding and Muggle worlds, they go to the only haven Harry can think of: Number 12 Grimmauld Place, the ancestral home of the Black family, as well as the former headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.
The Grimmauld Place set that had been constructed for the fifth film had long since been torn down, so it had to be recreated, but this time made to feel even older and mustier, and abandoned. Set decorator Stephenie McMillan says, "We wanted to maintain the impression that it's a very tall, thin house, but we also added space to it, like the drawing room. All the rooms have been ransacked and everything is covered in dust because the home doesn't have Mrs. Weasley there to keep it clean."
Under the cobwebs and dust remain memories of friends and family, including Harry's godfather, Sirius Black, as well as Sirius's brother, Regulus Acturus Black. R. A. B.
The three no sooner make that critical connection when they discover they are not alone. Spying from the shadows is the house elf Kreacher, who is forced to divulge vital information about the location of the genuine Horcrux locket. Kreacher also brings about a reunion with an old friend: Dobby, the elf who owes his freedom to Harry Potter.
Bringing the elves to life involved a combination of visual effects and the human performances of Toby Jones, as Dobby, and Simon McBurney, as Kreacher. Visual effects supervisor Tim Burke explains, "Dobby and Kreacher have to be distinct characters, and shooting real actors helped us achieve that. We filmed Toby and Simon acting out their roles and then used their facial performances as a reference to relay all of the emotion and personality they delivered back to the little CG characters."
"David (Yates) and Tim are great collaborators and went above and beyond to help me enrich the character beyond just the lines," Jones says. "Dobby has always had a vulnerability and humility, and I think that has endeared him to audiences. It also fits within the hierarchy established in J.K. Rowling's books. Dobby, in terms of his size and authority, is very low on that hierarchical scale, but that isn't related to the level of his bravery and loyalty and his capacity for good."
Thanks to Dobby and Kreacher, Harry, Hermione and Ron learn that the real locket is in the possession of one Dolores Umbridge, who is now the head of the Ministry's Muggle-Born Registration Committee.
Imelda Staunton says she was thrilled to be back in the pink for the part she calls "delicious," adding, "Dolores loves to make the most of what little power she thinks she has, which means clearing out those people who are not true wizards and witches because the world will be a better place without them. She considers herself to be pure and right and proper and has no tolerance for anything less. Her mind is completely closed; there's no empathy, no soul, no heart."
Dolores Umbridge has only one color scheme in life, so costume designer Jany Temime dressed Staunton, from head to toe, in pink outfits. Similarly, Stuart Craig refers to her office as "another essay in pink."
The rest of the Ministry maintains the polished, black-tiled corridors that Craig had originally based on an old London Tube station. The most significant change is to the massive atrium, where the centerpiece is a towering sculpture, depicting the supremacy of wizards over the cowering Muggles they are crushing beneath them, and engraved with the words "Magic is Might."
But there is a more insidious change to the Ministry. An atmosphere of oppression hangs over everything, as good wizards do their best to avoid being noticed. Uniformed guards and mercenaries, known as Snatchers, are constantly on the lookout for those deemed "Undesirable."
Nevertheless, in order to retrieve the Horcrux, Harry, together with Ron and Hermione, will have to risk going into the Ministry, although it will be especially difficult for Harry, whose face is on Wanted posters, naming him "Undesirable #1." With the help of some Polyjuice potion, the trio take on the more innocuous identities of wizards Albert Runcorn, Reg Cattermole and Malfalda Hopkirk and head into enemy territory.
By the time they find the locket--hanging around Dolores Umbridge's neck--their disguises are starting to melt away. With no time to spare, the three go on the offensive, snatch the Horcrux, and flee.
© 2010 Film Entertainment Magazine / EMOL.org. All rights reserved.
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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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