By Shea Frazier, Arts & Entertainment Asst. Editor
In a film where half of the plotline concerns an extended camping trip, a bit of magic is necessary to keep things interesting. Fortunately, Harry Potter has magic to spare. Told with a beautifully cinematic eye and a keen sense of mood and pacing, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One is a brilliant beginning to the wizarding world's final dark chapter.
Imagine a world where the Ministry of Magic — the government — has fallen, where Voldemort's power reigns and his followers, death eaters and snatchers alike, hunt freely. That is the world in which Harry, Hermione and Ron are forced to survive after an attack on the Burrow spurs them to flee into the wilderness in search of safety and Voldemort's horcruxes, the keys to the antagonist's soul and defeat.
Any non-Harry Potter enthusiasts are most likely confused just by that summary, but if it seems bad, it's nothing compared to the movie. Though it's truly a sleek, sophisticated showing, the film is essentially a prelude; this means that there is a great deal of plot laid out to pave the way for Part Two, scheduled for release in July, and the information is not always revealed smoothly.
Harry's visions, important plot-informants, are purposefully chaotic; vital characters missing from previous installments are hastily introduced and then tossed aside. From the Hallows to Dumbledore's secrets, much needs explaining quickly, and those not familiar with the story may feel like they've apparated half-a-dozen times by the time the credits roll.
None of this should bother loyal fans, though, and the atmosphere and staging are some of the strongest the franchise has ever seen. The trials of the three protagonists and the bleakness and tension associated with a life on the run are carefully and emotionally depicted in one of the most accurate book-to-movie adaptations yet.
This of course means long periods of isolation for the trio as they camp and plan, which may be tedious to those who are only watching for the sharp bursts of horror, action and even comedy that punctuate the film. Still, the quiet struggles are the realest, grittiest and most beautiful segments and to dismiss them is to disregard the movie's very heart.
The end may be nigh, but at least the end of witches and wizards, potions and friends is going out with style. The movie has its faults, but the sum of its parts: the absolutely wonderful animated section, the solid acting and the richly textured emotional environment, to name a few, create a whole that should entertain fans and the curious and reluctant tagalongs alike.