The latest installment of the Harry Potter universe, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, gives one a distinctly sinking feeling. Not because it means there’s only one more episode left, but because one begins to wonder if the films will be able to wrap up the series in a remotely satisfying way.
There’s still a popcorn kind of glee in watching a Harry Potter flick, but of late it’s seemed trickier for the films to capture the whimsy of the books, something present even in the later, darker chapters. Hallows, Part 1, for example, sees the appearance of Mundungus Fletcher (Mundungus being word that means “foul smelling tobacco”), one of the many fantastical character names author J.K. Rowling rolled out. The movies have just seemed to have lost the ability to have fun with them.
It’s been interesting to see them evolve. As Harry has grown older, the stories have become more sinister and ditto the movies, beginning with the genius stroke of allowing Alfonso Cuarón to direct the third installment, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. That film shed the twinkly quality that Chris Columbus brought (appropriately) to the first two flicks for a darker, hipper vibe. Suddenly Harry and company wore street clothes more often and felt more like real, modern tweens. It swerved visually away from the book in the small ways that movies should, without derailing Rowling’s narrative.