I’ll begin this review by explaining a term used frequently in film studies as a starting point for much of the Freudian analysis we do. Scoppophilia refers to a love of looking. The word derives from greek. Most of us are scoppophiles – we love looking, observing, and today my scoppophillic tendencies were in overdrive. Inn short, the new harry potter film is a visual joy, from the very first frame.
The first thing to note is that it is dark: this is most certainly not a kid’s film. The very mise-en-scene is almost oppressive, inasmuch as the camera seldom strays from the characters. As with Prisoner of Azkaban, Hogwarts itself is frequently shot in the rain for establishing shots. This is reflected in the characters, who are more fleshy, more ‘real’ – as in the book, goblet shows them bickering and fighting, as kids of their age are wont to do.
There was one shot in particular which struck me as especially fine. After a scene in which Longbottom’s past is alluded to, the class pass a stained glass window, on which the rain is beating from thee outside. The picture upon it is that f lady – this might be the Madonna – and she appears to cry, a particularly large drop of water descending from her face. This, needless to say, reflects the emotional intensity of the last scene, highlighting the poignancy of Neville’s situation.
Indeed, the theme of parenthood is a major source of emotion in this film, if not the whole series. Harry is, after all, an orphan. It is a subtle, but ever-present, thread. The absence or presence of Lilly and James can always be counted upon to have an emotional impact. Thus, when they appear in the denouement, the audience is elated.
This is not to say that this is a feel-good movie. This film has some very raw emotion. The sight of mr. diggory crying over his son is especially potent, as is the sheer horror in Harry after he returns from the graveyard. Thus I found this film extremely emotionally draining, mum continually having to tell me to stop squealing. There were also points, I must admit, when I felt myself welling up.
Both the shooting and acting were very impressive indeed. Daniel Radcliff, I felt, gave a fine performance (he has been criticised by some for being too melodramatic). He, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint seem to be growing up as actors just as the characters they portray are becoming adults. They portray the tension of their situation well. Michael gambon’s Dumbledore was more impressive than Azkaban.
This is not to say this film is not flawed. It is, inasmuch as it leaves out most of the detail within the book. For example, the audience have very little inkling that moody is a traitor until suddenly it is revealed to us. I suspect that it would have made little sense had I not read, and loved, the book/ however, as I have done so, I can forgive Mike Newell his little inconsistencies and enjoy the film for what it is – visually spectacular.
One last note: this is in no way a kids film. It is truly scary and highly emotive. It seems scroogesque, but it got my goat how many kids were there. It may be about children, but this is no fairy-tale. Parents shouldn’t take their five year old and expect him not to be upset.