The Harry Potter franchise has been entertaining audiences for decades now. And while it all began witH J.K. Rowling's books, for some fans it’s all about the eight-movie film franchise. The last few movies were helmed by David Yates, including the two-part finale. The Harry Potter director recently explained why Deathly Hallows - Part 1 was a “great challenge.” And that movie ended up being one of my favorites in the whole franchise.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 was released back in 2010, and offered a very different installment in the Wizarding World. Our trio of heroes weren’t at Hogwarts, and instead embarked on a cross country adventure to try to locate and destroy Voldermort’s horcruxes. The movie had a unique visual language including a stunning animated sequence and Harry and Hermione’s emotional dance. Filmmaker David Yates recently spoke to Collider about the challenges of capturing and editing that film, offering:
Oh, that's a good question. Probably [Harry Potter and the] Deathly Hallows: Part 1]. The great challenge of that film was it didn't actually have a third act. It kind of ran out of steam halfway through, and Mark [Day - the editor on the final four Potter films] and I would often sit there kind of figuring it out and saying, ‘This movie doesn't have a third act. How are we gonna…? Hang on, this is crazy. It doesn't have a third act.’
Well, my mind is blown. While I was a big fan of the pacing of Deathly Hallows - Part 1, it seems it actually gave David Yates and company reason to pause. Specifically worries about the direction of the movie and its third act. Let’s break it all down.
The ending of the seventh Harry Potter movie was an emotional sucker punch,with Dobby sacrificing himself to save Harry and his friends from Malfoy Manor. This was preceded by a magical battle, but it sounds like there were concerns that the third act wasn’t exciting enough. After all, the movie was ultimately setting up Part 2’s Battle of Hogwarts, which lasted most of its runtime.
I always say that loving Deathly Hallows - Part 1 so much is my hot take for the franchise, as some fans took umbrage with its change in format. But after seeing the novels’ contents being condensed to make them movie length, the stillness of the seventh movie is super satisfying. And I found each of the visual risks effective. Later in that same interview, Yates explained how difficult it was to complete the project, saying:
Those two movies, Part 1 and Part 2, the idea was the first one was a road movie that was very sort of, like, take the kids out of the school, put them in jeopardy outside of that safe place, and see how they grow up and their relationship is tested. But then you go straight into the climax and the fireworks to the final one. So, we noodled Part One to bits to try and feel that the end of the movie had an escalation when, in fact, it's Jazz Hands. [Laughs] There's not much going on at the end in the second half of the movie, and I say that with great– People still say to me, ‘My favorite film is Hallows: Part One, mate. That was so amazing. It felt like a European road movie.’ And I’m going, ‘Yeah, but the work we did in the edit was unbelievable.’
In my opinion, that work really paid off. Both Deathly Hallow movies were wildly successful with the events of Part 1 perfectly setting up the epic Battle of Hogwarts that would come in the eighth movie. And there are some fans who re-watch the entire series annually.
Potterfans will soon be returning to Hogwarts thanks to the developing Harry Potter TV series. Each season is expected to cover one year of Harry’s time at school, just as the novels did. Not much is known about how far its development is, especially amid the ongoing strikes.
The Harry Potter franchise is available with a Max subscription. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.