Alex: Let’s start with a great big *SPOILER ALERT*. Be aware we will be discussing the plot and ending of the latest Harry Potter movie.
Rosel: So, I enjoyed this one a lot, which was a relief, because I was really bored by the first half of “Deathly Hallows” – too much angst and not enough action!
A: I’ve never been a big fan of the Harry Potter series, but I was satisfied with how this film brought everything to a close.
R: I agree. Obviously, many fine details from the book didn’t make it to the film, but that is just a problem of literary adaptations in general. I still think the main actors weren’t great, but the supporting cast really shined. Especially Maggie Smith, who plays Professor McGonagall.
A: She was the highlight of the movie. She was the only actor that truly bought into the role, as opposed to playing it. But that might just be my theatre snob self showing. I almost teared up when she brought all those statues to life; weird, I know, but she was so sincere. I haven’t read the books… is anything missing from them that the film should have addressed?
R: One important detail that got lost in the films is Snape and his loyalty. In the books, we constantly wonder who Snape is and where his allegiance lies, but he was so vilified in the film that those who didn’t read the books felt confused when his “real allegiance” to Dumbledore at the end was revealed. The movie could’ve done much more with Alan Rickman – another great actor – by having the camera linger on his face a bit longer to show the conflict he was feeling.
A: He wasn’t a sympathetic character at all. I don’t see how anyone who hadn’t read the books would care about him. One thing we need to talk about is whether or not you think there’s anything in this film, or the series in general, for a LGBTQ or feminist audience. Does that get usurped by Potter fandom? I know J.K. Rowling has “revealed” that Dumbledore was homosexual, but that really doesn’t count to me.
R: Yeah, the whole Dumbledore thing just reeked of publicity stunt to me, because the books didn’t indicate his homosexuality at all. The only positive thing from a feminist angle is Hermione’s intelligence and her ability to save Ron and Harry, but she gets sidelined too often. The books focus so much on Harry the male hero’s journey, so there isn’t much room for anything else. But is it just me, or does his special power (being protected by his mother’s love) seem a little flawed? Shouldn’t more people be gifted with extraordinary powers then?
A: The alternate title to the series should be “Harry Potter’s mom loved him more than anybody else’s mom.” The gay blogosphere is having a love affair with Matthew Lewis, the actor who plays Neville Longbottom at the moment. Maybe that counts as gay payoff in the film. Is it just me or does he have a touch of the gay face? Or is that just wishful thinking?
R: He did seem pretty adorable in this film, and I’m glad the series gave him a chance to do something truly heroic for once. I don’t know if you remember, but weren’t people obsessed with Tom Felton (who plays Draco Malfoy) a few years ago? That seems to have died down. I also found it weird that Malfoy and Harry do their awkward limp-wristed wave at the end…
A: Apparently Draco Malfoy is one of the top slash fiction characters in Harry Potter fan fiction. Awfully big of Harry to forgive Draco for trying to kill him all those times. I take it you weren’t a fan of the “everybody waves at each other” ending?
R: It just seemed way too perfect. But how do you end a series like Harry Potter? Plus, having their kids go off to Hogwarts gives Rowling an opportunity to write sequels. Speaking about the movie specifically, I liked how they at least tried to make Harry and Ron look somewhere in their 30s, while they did nothing with Emma Watson, except putting her in a trenchcoat. I guess women in their 30s who gave birth don’t change much, except wear stylisth coats.
A: I didn’t mind the ending. Except the Emma Watson thing, I did notice how she “aged” much better than the men. Sexist double standard? Was there any literary evidence she should look that way?
R: I can’t say I remember the book saying she looked the same, but it was 5 years ago when I read it…I think Ginny also looks about the same, no? Maybe women are just immune from bad haircuts and slightly bloated guts.
A: I was thinking about this…in the Harry Potter universe nearly everyone ends up married to someone they grew up with. It seems a bit incestuous to me.
R: You’re right. I tried to calculate when it is that the Harry Potter gang had children – if they were about 17 when the series ended and they were sending their 11-year-olds to school 19 years later, they must’ve had children in their early to mid-20s. But speaking of…children, one thing I found really disturbing was the image of aborted Voldemort at that very white-washed train station. My partner leaned over and asked, “is this a secret pro-life message?” I wouldn’t take it that far, but I didn’t know what to do with that image.
A: You could also read the opposite: if the “fetus Voldemort” represents his soul locked inside Harry then getting rid of it was a good thing. For as much as I think Rowling is a progressive/inclusive thinker, the whole series does kind of fall back on more traditional narratives and the queer characters are essentially neutered.
R: Not to mention the rather cliche message of “love conquers all.” Although I will say that after flipping through a few pages of the Twilight books at Chapters, I’ve come to appreciate J.K.Rowling’s storytelling skills as well as her ability to craft women as something else other than empty vessels that need protection.
A: I think it’s fairly obvious we both enjoyed the movie enough to recommend it. So instead, what do you think people should watch or read next now that the Harry Potter series is done?
R: This is for adults only, but I recently finished watching the new HBO series “Game of Thrones” and enjoyed it a lot. It’s very unclear who’s “right” or “wrong.” So if you’re looking for a fantasy series with less cookie-cutter messages, I highly recommend it. There are even some gay characters in it too – though they’re minor characters so far…
A: People should give the movie Howl’s Moving Castle a watch. It’s an animated feature directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It’s got witches and wizards, is visually beautiful and tells a really engaging story. It’s kind of sad two English students recommended things to watch instead of read… Readers! Why don’t you let us know in the comments what you’re reading or doing to replace the Harry Potter shaped hole in your life?
About the Authors
Alex | Alberta born, currently living in Montreal. He keeps busy by taking care of his vegetable garden and finches. Otherwise he can be seen putting his MA to work by watching TV, playing video games, or reading something postmodern. If you want to for some reason, follow him on Twitter: @alexkristof
Rosel | Hailing from Seoul and Vancouver, Rosel’s settled in Montreal (for now). She writes book reviews for the Montreal Review of Books, and discusses gender, sexuality, and race on her personal blog, What Are Years?. Follow her on twitter @jroselkim