Okay, this is getting kind of insane with the blogging-practically-every-day thing. I mean, you would almost think I had no life or something, right? Oh wait... you already know that to be fact.
What's prompting this is Deathly Hallows Part 1. I just got back from seeing it in the theatre. Which... well, I'll get to the reaction in a minute. Typing that just put this thought in my head that I want to pursue for a moment: tonight I went to the film with Aimee and Christina Gable and Christina's boyfriend. But who did I see the other films with for the first time?
Sorcerer's Stone was with my family. I remember, because my brother Zach fell asleep halfway through and started to drool. I also saw it with Rebekah, because she thought the way Dumbledore clapped was funny and we mimicked it many a time afterward.
I think Chamber of Secrets must have been with my family too. I couldn't drive then, so it wouldn't have been a midnight showing.
I don't remember prisoner of Azkaban. I suspect I saw that one with my parents as well. I think that was the one where we walked out of the theater and met Mr. Calloway going in to another movie, and he seemed surprised (perhaps even scandalized?) that "good Christian people" would have watched such a movie. (He didn't say that. I'm just inferring.)
Goblet of Fire I saw while at Elon. I saw it first at the theater up the road from the school (it was my first Harry Potter midnight showing!) then later on a group trip in which the school provided a bus for us to go see it in IMAX.
I went to the Order of the Phoenix midnight release by myself here in Charlotte, but I met some of my coworkers on the way out and had an awkward exchange where they kindly said, "We would've had you sit with us if we'd known you were coming." (They wouldn't, but it was polite to say so.)
Half Blood Prince I did not see on opening night, much as it pained me, because I was up visiting Rebekah in Montana. Instead, we went the second or third night I was there. She wore a "Mischief Managed" button pinned to the front of her very pregnant belly.
And then tonight - Aimee and Christina surprised me by inviting me to come with them. I wouldn't have pegged them as midnight release type fans... at least not for Harry Potter. But it's always nice when people surprise you. Christina's boyfriend (I think his name is Chris. Can't remember) has never read the book but has seen the movies. He seemed blown away by this one, and I don't blame him. It was... whoa.
Which gets us to the review. Only, I don't want to review it. I want to just like it. Because I did. I feel like because they had extra time, they didn't cut out details they might have (which made the plot less confusing) and they gave us some much-deserved quality time with the trio, who actually acted like real people for once and not like the cartoon characters they sometimes came off as. Sorry... I like the other movies, but it was always almost out of a sense of obligation. This one earned it. That goes for the emotional gravity too. When Cedric dies in Book 4, I was very upset. But in the movies, I couldn't cry. When Dumbledore died in Book 6 I was beside myself. I cried legitimately and with real grief for this fictional character. And since Coldplay's album had just come out that summer, I played "Fix You" on a constant loop, finding special meaning in the line "tears stream down your face / when you lose something you cannot replace." My first time watching the movie, I did not cry. In preparation for the Deathly Hallows release I watched all the films back to back, and this time I did tear up a bit - not at the scene where Dumbledore fell, but at the point when they all raise their wands in the air and the light overtakes the Dark Mark in the sky.
But Deathly Hallows is a whole new class of Harry Potter film. From the first death at Malfoy Manor, to Hedwig's demise and the sudden absence of Moody... I did not cry at these, but I felt them deep in my gut, emotional grief manifested as physical pain. But Dobby... I cried the most for Dobby in the book, I think, and I cried for him here as well. They earned every tear. It was real. It was powerful. It was beautiful. It was tragic. It was everything it needed to be, and I was grateful for that.
"Such a beautiful place here, with friends."
I think maybe Dobby's death hit me hardest for the same reason that it's Colin Creevey, out of all the list of the dead in the Battle of Hogwarts coming in part 2, that hurt me the most. That name stuck out in my head and wouldn't leave. Not Colin. Moody was a tough old warrior. Tonks and Remus were skilled wizards and knew what they were signing up for. Fred's loss was tragic, but again - he was an adult. He signed on for this.
I know both Dobby and Colin signed on for it too. They knew the risks and they took them anyway, knowing that the cause they were fighting for was more important even than their lives. But they are innocents. They are small, hopeful, silly, kind, enthusiastic. You never want a bad thing to touch people like that. So when they are taken from us, it seems that much harder. But Dobby went out a free elf. He was brave and so very good there at the end.
I'm glad Harry dug his grave. I'm glad he did it by hand, to honor him. I'm glad the filmmakers ended there, too, because we need time to process that death. At least I do. There will be many more of them, but this seemed like the best possible place to break off and I'm glad they did.
Smaller things: I was sad they left out the transformation we see once Harry treats Kreacher with kindness. I loved the scene where they were Polyjuiced in the ministry with Umbridge. The story of the Three Brothers was AMAZING. A-MAZ-ING. Xenophilius Lovegood was wonderful. Draco Malfoy in this movie is SO GOOD. He's not in a lot, but you can see it written all over his face. You can see that he's not a Voldemort fanboy anymore, that he realizes he doesn't want to kill people - even Harry, his worst enemy. It's one thing to taunt him at school, or even to kick him in the face and leave him to bleed under an invisibility cloak. But it's another thing when it comes down to you, when you're the one who has to put the name to the face and identify him and you know that doing so will mean certain death for him. He won't identify Harry. He's obviously uncomfortable when his aunt is torturing Hermione. When Bellatrix says "Call the Dark Lord!" he could have done it, but he steps back, grim-faced, and lets someone else.
The Bathilda Bagshot scene had people in the theatre literally screaming with fear at points. Ron rescuing Harry then destroying the Horcrux was phenomenal. Harry comforting Hermione with a dance was a beautiful addition. The other point in the movie that made me cry was Harry at his parent's grave. Dan played that so well. I wasn't bawling, but a few tears did slide down my cheek. And Neville - I think he had literally one line in this movie, but he OWNED it. Total bad-ass motherfucker! (I know the abbreviation is BAMF, but he deserves the uncensored version. BAD-ASS to the core.) The Death Eaters storm into the car looking for Harry and Neville stands to his feet and stares him straight in the eye and says in a voice sharper than Gryffindor's sword: "He's not here, so you can stop looking for him." BAM! I am so psyched for some snake-killing action in movie 2!
They earned it. They EARNED IT.
I forced myself to like the other films because they're Harry Potter, dammit, and I could see they meant well with their adaptations. But this one EARNED IT. I actually DO like it, very much, and of its own merit. Thank heavens.
Movie two is going to be action packed. They still have to track down Hufflepuff's cup, Ravenclaw's diadem, and of course there's the epic showdown with the snake. The dragon scene, the fire in the Room of Requirement, Snape's redemption, the whole Battle of Hogwarts. All of that squeezed into one little movie WHOA.
July, man. Seems so far.
And that reminds me of one other thing this movie has done. It's reinforced for me, again, that need to leave. To be done. I got excited this past week, with that blog post I put up a couple days ago, reminiscing, realizing I really do love this fandom. Reading the HPA emails in my inbox. Listening to all the wrock songs. Even seeing Darren Criss on Glee. Fandom stuff, and I love these people, and I think what has been accomplished in Harry's name is incredible. And I'm grateful to have been a part of this phenomenon.
But once a while ago I was a girl who loved a story. That's all. And in the rush of fandom stuff, I lost that.
Don't get me wrong. I'm going to revel in my wizard-ness these last few months. I'll help the HPA out. I'll go to wrock shows. I'll buy merch. I'll save up for that epic trifecta of awesome that will be happening next July. I'll write Jo a letter, because somehow this whole stage of my life wouldn't seem complete if I didn't let her know what her books have meant to me.
But when LeakyCon is over and I come home from the park and when I watch the movie (and potentially rewatch it with friends at home as well), that's it. I'm packing up my trunk with all my wizard gear. I'm taking the fansites off my favorites list on my computer, unsubscribing (maybe?) from many of my Potter peeps. I'm returning to my Muggle life. No Wrockstock 5 for me. No more.
"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live," a wise man once said.
Jo's story has had its time in my life, and I am changed for the better because of it. But now it's time to find my own story.
Maybe my heart will open at the close.