At long last, J.K. Rowling's epic saga of a cute little fellow with the odd birthmark and even odder glasses has reached its end. The reading and viewing worlds owe an amazing debt to the author who turned on kids to almost addictive reading and movie-goers to a superb series of movies based on the books.
The last film, Part II of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, is one of the finest of the group, despite its being weighted by the daunting task of bringing back so many of the fine characters and character actors for a last hurrah as well as tying up all the loose ends. But essentially it all boils down to one major climax--Harry's last face-off with his dreaded enemy Lord Voldemort. Ralph Fiennes' embodiment of pure, slithering, soulless evil almost dominates the film, though he is closely followed by a harrowing performance by Alan Rickman as the ambiguously cold Professor Snape. Watching Rickman and Fiennes is akin to seeing the best in the world in any field. They are that good!
And the film almost matches them. It has stunning effects, gorgeous music, and a moving story. And what most people want to see is the fate of the three protagonists Harry Potter, Hermoine Granger, and Ron Wesley. When these roles were cast over a decade ago, the actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint were green kids with more charm than ability, but by the third film, they were becoming their characters, and in the last two films they have a gravity that makes them real people and adults. So it is with some sadness that we watch them leave the world of magic for the world of reality, the one we have to face on a daily basis. Perhaps that is the major reason the series has been so popular with adults as well as youngsters. It is more than escapism that fuels such success, more than special effects. Our strong need for the verification of good triumphing over relentless, soulless evil can't be easily found in the world we see on the news, but it still exists. Often it has its fulfillment in art. The Harry Potter phenomenon is a great example of a populist desire for a better life.