'Deathly Hallows' by the numbers

July 18, 2011

A wise co-worker approached me to talk about the final installment of The "Harry Potter" films, "The Deadly Hallows: Part 2."

Even though he's well into his 50s, his eyes were beaming like a child's as he gave his (favorable) opinion. I draw such comparisons because I have just started reading the first book to my children who have recently made all things "Potter" their latest obsession (I won't go past the second book or film with them, though, as things get far too complex for their young minds to wrap around.). They, too, light up when they hear the wizard's name called out on a commercial or see his visage on a billboard.

But amidst all this talk of record-breaking first days ($92 million) and opening weekends both domestically ($168.5 million) and internationally, ($476 million), and with many more records that I'm sure will come, the real "effect" of this phenomenon truly hit me. The span of generations that have grown with the Hogwarts clan and the overwhelming necessity to spend just two more hours with them.

Stephen King once again said it best in a recent quote that compared "Potter" to another popular fantasy franchise that is simultaneously sweeping bookstores and multiplexes: "'Harry Potter' is about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity. 'Twilight' is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."

"Deathly Hallows: Part 2" concludes this epic journey in grand fashion. It's still broodingly dark with only threads of hope, tragic, sweeping and moving. We pick up exactly where the painfully abrupt "Part 1" left off, with the evil Voldermort (played by Ralph Finnes)  taunting our young hero with his prophetic fate.

His siren song is also a call to arms for Harry (played by Daniel Radcliffe, who's weathered on-sceeen adolescence uncharacteristically well to full-fledged hero), Hermione (played by Emma Watson) and Ron (played by Rupert Grint), who return to Hogwarts for a climactic showdown with Voldermort's ever-enlarging minions.

It is the fitting backdrop for the confrontation that picks up "Part 1's" pace, balancing it with just the right amount of emotional resonance to give purpose to the chaos and consequence of battle.

By spreading the book over the course of two films, director David Yates was able to provide us an insight of a hero struggling and ultimately accepting his destiny ("Part 1"), then digging in his heels as he prepares to meet it face to face ("Part 2"). It also allows us to welcome back many secondary characters that have made indelible marks on Hogwarts (and readers) through seven books.

And while Finnes gets to relish the role of supreme villain in "Hallows," it is perhaps Alan Rickman as the tortured Severus Snape who is given the film's most commanding performance. For his dubious actions and questionable behavior have kept fans guessing throughout the years and Rickman provides just the right amount of piteous outrage and sneering compassion that has made Snape so fascinatingly complex for the last decade. This is certainly no easy task, and Rickman deserves much acclaim for shouldering it so effortlessly over the course of the films.

Like "Toy Story 3's" parting shot, "Deathly Hallow's" conclusion is marked with the inevitability of life's cyclical nature, but etched with hope on the horizon.

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