Sunday, February 27, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One

I just saw the latest Harry Potter movie in a second-run pub theater.  Great company, good food, but the movie didn't work very well for me.  I'd read a little about pacing issues, so I didn't go in with high expectations.  Even with that in mind, though, I had serious trouble with the way the story moved.  The elements were mostly there--fine actors, beautiful special effects that didn't distract from the story, etc.  But I kept wondering what happened to the dialogue, to the ideas, and most of all, to the charm.

I was charmed by the books, and I was charmed by many of the movies.  I don't think it was a case of no-surprises.  I enjoyed watching the story I knew come to life on the big screen in the other Harry Potter movies, as well as other movie-from-book films I'd seen.  But life is precisely what was missing here, at least for me.  

For example, I delighted in the derigible plums.  At that point I reveled in that little taste of what had been omnipresent in the books and most of the other films--the color, the environment, the quirky things that belonged there despite their often unusual character, and the sometimes awe-inspiring beauty.  These things convinced me of the existence of another world as marvelous and complex as the real one we live in every day.  I had little to nothing except those plums to convince me of another world this time.

There's an important lesson here for storytellers everywhere.  The 'telling' details often mentioned in writing courses and critiques and in criticism are really important.  They ought to be called the 'showing' details, though.  Because they show us so much, without saying a word.

Bravo to actors, special effects folks, camera men, makeup artists, costumers ... and bravo to the writers, director, producer, etc. for all the hard work, but alas, I can't recommend this movie, and I'm likely to buy it only on discount in order to complete the set after the next movie has come out, assuming this next, and last, movie doesn't do the same or worse as its brother.

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