Below you will not find any complaining about changes made from canon, etc. Because. Well, frankly, I don’t care about that. Really at all. Everything below is, of course, only my opinion.
This film was so beautiful, I hardly know where to begin. This was an absolutely gorgeous adaptation of the book. The heart of the book was there, but the director did not hesitate to cut and add and move things around in order to make a really good film. I know I’ve ranted here plenty of times about how important that is to me… that if I want a book, I’ll read a book, but if I go to the movies I want to see a brilliant movie, not something that tries to be what it can never ever be, which is to say a book. This was a truly brilliant movie. Cuaron clearly had a vision for this film, and he followed through with it boldly, none of this wishy-washy bland crap we saw in the first two films. The first two films made me want to go home and read the books again. This one made me want to go back in and force them to show me the movie again. I would actually say (please don’t throw things) that this is a better movie than the book is a book. If that makes sense. I love JKR, you know I do. I love this series with my whole heart. But I thought this film was real art on a grander scale. JKR is a wonderful storyteller. Cuaron is an artist.
We have thankfully left behind the bright colors and shiny Hogwarts of the past, with its self-conscious display of magic and manufactured “wonder”. Everything in this movie was dark and muted. The castle looked actually old, worn, but still beautiful. It felt so much more enormous than it had in the first two films, filled with hidden nooks and murky shadows. This feeling extended to the characters as well. Nobody was shiny, not even the mostly immaculate Draco Malfoy. People looked like people, not like movie stars. They had bad hair and blemishes. They had faded clothes that had been worn more than once. The magic was just there as a part of their daily lives, and the filmmaker didn’t feel the need to point out every wondrous thing. It felt gritty and real, yet utterly beautiful in a way that the first two films couldn’t have dreamed of. Every moment was perfect and deliberate, including the transitions between scenes. There was no filler. Everything was there to add to the mood of the film. Even the closing credits are perfectly beautiful and just plain perfect. I felt that I was watching a real work of art. It is just brilliantly crafted.
It wasn’t all about color and mood, either. I felt real emotional connections with these characters that the first two films completely missed. Nothing was certain. We’d lost that “everything will be all right in the end” feeling, and I think that had a lot to do with the way Dumbledore was portrayed. We saw real emotion, real caring, we felt real loss between Remus and Sirius (more on that in another entry, I’m sure). Also, as my husband pointed out, JKR has been one of the few fantasy/sci-fi writers to get time travel RIGHT. We only saw the final timeline, even the first time through. Because that is all there is.
Yes, I might have liked to know that Lupin was Moony. Yes, I might have liked to know that the stag was James’ animagus form. But I’m not sure I would have thought of these things for a while had I not already read about them from other people.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say as the week goes on, and I’m hopeful for a second viewing somewhere in that time. A few random details that I really liked:
Neville in Gryffindor face-paint. So. Perfect. And so understated. They didn’t make a joke out of it or feature it in any way. It was just there and you noticed it or you didn’t.
Hermione slapping Harry’s hand away from the time-turner.
Emma Thompson. omg.
The new Dumbledore. Darker. Stranger. Love him.
The Fat Lady smashing the glass on the wall while the students looked away.
The fabulous little scene in the boys’ dormitory where they are just hanging out being boys.
Harry: “You tell that spider, Ron!” (or whatever that line was exactly)
Hermione: “Is that really what my hair looks like from the back?”
The trio in general… their dynamic and the sexual tension every frickin’ where. Wow.
“You’re supposed to stroke it, Neville.”
Buckbeak. Dude. I want to ride a hippogriff.
The floaty globe-thingies in the room where Harry is learning to cast a Patronus. That is a perfect example of what I mean about things looking old, and the magic not being so shiny and full of fake “wonder”. They were gorgeous and completely understated.
Remus Lupin. I loved this characterization more than I can say. And his scenes with Harry just moved me.
Snape. Snape Snape Snape.
Hagrid skipping stones when he’s upset. I really cared about him here.
Did I mention Dumbledore?
My friends. There is so much more. I just need to stop now.
ETA: Like. A million things. I keep going back and adding things. Heh.
ETA: random wild speculation…
So. I’ve shot down people in the past who have said to me that they think Ron will end up betraying his friends. I never believed it. After watching this movie, I suddenly think it might happen. I know it isn’t the canon, but JKR has said that they accidentally foreshadowed things for the sixth and seventh books in this film, and I felt like that was seriously foreshadowed in this movie. I hope I’m just crazy but… gah. On second viewing I’ve decided this is all in my head.