Preview of The 57th BFI London Film Festival


Today the full programme for the 57th BFI London Film Festival was announced, which runs in the city from 9th to 20th October, mainly in Leicester Square and the BFI’s home on Southbank, but also featuring screenings all over London.

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Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part I

The books and movies are THE series of my childhood. I remember being read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in Year 4 (3rd grade you Americans) at school, and now its all coming to an end.

Unless something was horribly wrong, there was no way I couldn’t love this. David Yates will probably become the director people associate with the movies, given he’s made four of the eight, and the last two. He’s done well with the less interesting and less exciting half (or two thirds) of the book; its stays pretty faithful to the book, so much so that the travelling bits go slowly like they do in the book. But I think the breaks in action are kind of necessary. A high paced film would have changed the mood of the film, which I thought worked very well.

There were some quite indulgent shots in the film – beautiful to watch, but often pointless. There was definitely one in the beginning where nothing happened at all! The idea of being able to go shoot on location probably went to everyone’s heads a little bit.

The trio (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint) have all improved massively in terms of acting. The girl who plays Ginny, Bonnie Wright, though hardly in it, was kind of painful to watch. Not looking forward to her in Part 2. I also thought Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort wasn’t evil enough in the meeting scene. I got that everyone was intimidated by him, but if I didn’t know why I would’ve thought they were all overacting.

My two favourite moments of the film are two Harry and Hermione moments: the cemetery scene, before Bathilda shows up; and the dancing in the tent. I thought I’d find it horribly cringe worthy but it was sweet. Definitely a good addition to the story, and something that probably never would have worked in the book. But Daniel should probably take lessons before he dares to dance on screen again…

I have a couple of issues with the film. One: the casualness of Hedwig’s death. Dobby had a much more emotional death scene, and though I like him just as much as anyone, Hedwig was a much bigger loss. And two: the end. I liked where they ended it, but it was abrupt, and it didn’t have to be. It didn’t have the big epic cliffhanger feel, which it desperately needed. It felt more like closing the book halfway through. And talking of the end, was it just me or does Dumbledore’s tomb seem a little too futuristic for the wizarding world? Plain white is a little too minimalist and modern in my eyes for the great wizard that Dumbledore was.

Talking of Dumbledore, I would have changed the beginning of the film. I loved how it has the emotional thing going, with Hermione leaving her parents, and the Dursleys leaving, but it was too short. It almost felt like a different movie started when the ‘Harry Potter’ title came up. For most of the movie, at the back of my head this was bothering me, and then it came to me. They should have started with Dumbledore’s funeral, something that was so major in the sixth book, and yet left out of the adaptation. A big part of the story is Harry realizing that however close he felt to Dumbledore, he didn’t actually know him that well, and starting with Dumbledore’s funeral would give that strand something extra. I don’t remember too well how the Half Blood Prince film ended, but in the book it is after the funeral the three of them decide to go searching for Horcruxes, so following that with the scene with Hermione and her parents, Harry and the empty house, and pensive Ron, would have been perfect.

Understandably, the film seems a little incomplete, but it only makes me more impatient for Part 2, which comes out in July. Part of this part being so good is in knowing what is to come can only be more awesome. Unless they completely screw it up.