For many readers and film enthusiasts, it will be the end of an era when the much-loved characters of the Harry Potter series grace the screen one last time in the second part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
On a superficial level, the Harry Potter series might seem simply a story of good vs. evil. Voldemort is a villain that everybody loves to hate, and that seems a good basis for a story. However, J.K. Rowling goes deeper, using a fantasy setting to explore class structures. She makes parallels to supremacist groups in the way the magical folk lord it over the Muggles. When inside the Ministry, Harry, Ron, and Hermione see a monument that features humans holding up a pillar that reads "Magic is Might". Rather horrifyingly, this is meant to show "humans in their rightful place".
There is also a second class division – pure-bloods vs. half-bloods and Muggle-borns (so charmingly called "Mudbloods"). At Hogwarts, the Slytherin house is by far the snobbiest and nastiest. Not surprising, given that the house's symbol is a snake and that Voldemort himself was sorted into Slytherin.
Another theme parallel to class divisions is government. The Minister for Magic is always in collaboration with his Muggle counterpart, the Prime Minister. As the books become darker, we see more hostile government takeovers and corrupt politicians fighting their way to power.
With the new ‘evil' Ministry, Voldemort is not the only bad guy. Dolores Umbridge manages to make the colour pink, kittens, teacups, and even bows creepy. She is evil... in pink. Another strong evil female character is Bellatrix Lestrange. She's evil, unhinged, and possessed of intense bloodlust. Those three are probably the cruellest characters, who provide Harry, Hermione, and Ron with plenty of challenges.
However, that's not to say that good vs. evil, class struggles, and corrupt governments are all there is to Harry Potter. There's close friendships, finding love, loyalty in adversity, and family too.
Harry accumulates a lot of allies along the way, but the focus is still on the threesome of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Rowling very neatly ties up loose ends in the epilogue of the seventh book, showing them as married, happy, and parents to boot! Speaking of parents, there is a strong theme of family running throughout all the books. Harry lost his parents when he was very young and therefore lacked the essential guidance and nurturing that all children need. After not getting love from his aunt and uncle, Harry turned to external sources of comfort. The strongest of all his "surrogate mothers" is Mrs Weasley, his best friend's mother. In fact, Harry is pretty much an honorary Weasley.
It's hard to pick the strongest father figure. Many have appeared throughout the books — most notably: Mr Weasley, Sirius Black, Dumbledore, Hagrid, and Remus Lupin.
By the start of the seventh book, that list is shortened to three, because, with love and family, comes sacrifice. The previous sacrifices of both Dumbledore and Sirius continue to haunt Harry, as well as the loss of his owl, Hedwig, who dies trying to save him.
Dobby, the brave and mischievous elf, dies helping Harry and his friends escape from the clutches of Bellatrix Lestrange. In Harry Potter, as in life, good things must come to end, and existence is fleeting.
There are many deeper themes to Harry Potter and in this first part of the epic finale we see battles, evil governments, loyalty, love, and sacrifice.
The cast performed brilliantly, really drawing the audience into the story. A lot of people, myself included, have grown up with Harry and his friends. Some people only really got into reading because of Harry Potter. Now that it's almost at the end, we're reluctant to let go. It's like the loss of some good friends.
If at the end of reading this, you haven't guessed that I'm recommending watching this film, then you obviously haven't read it closely enough! My major complaint is only that we have wait until next year for the second half. It's a fantastic film peppered with the good, the bad, and the funny. So, treat yourself to a few hours with Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One.
2 December 2010