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The Fellowship of the Horcrux

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 (2010)

Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros. Pictures

The beginning of the story’s end comes to life in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1,” the seventh and penultimate entry in the cinematic juggernaut. Less a conventional “H. P.” film than a road movie rocked by physical and hormonal turmoil, David Yates’s third crack at the franchise goes to a dark, interesting place, even if the whole enterprise feels rather played-out, so last decade.

Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermoine (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), as well as the good-guy members of the Order of the Phoenix, are on the run, with Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his Death Eaters in hot pursuit. Our heroic trio sets out to locate and destroy the Dark Lord’s four horcruxes, hidden vessels containing pieces of his soul, before the entire world becomes “a wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Oh, wait — wrong franchise.

While the first six films followed a predictable pattern — exploring the interpersonal and academic conflicts through a year at Hogwarts melded with the villainous scheming overseen by Voldemort and Harry’s gradual uncovering of his destiny — “Deathly Hallows” deviates from the norm. Our heroes, hunted by Voldemort, traverse a scorched earth terrain that hurdles them into extended confrontations with their mortality and all the complications and confusions of burgeoning sexuality.

For the first time, Harry’s narrative is shed of childlike Hogwarts wonder, casting aside such standards as innocuous scenes of magic displays and Quidditch matches. The “family film” sensibility of the Chris Columbus entrants (the series’ first two movies) is rubbed out, replaced with the sincerity of the first stirrings of big, fateful doings. This is still “Harry Potter,” so there’s a limit to the severe tone; but the stakes have been sufficiently raised.

Essentially an epilogue to “Deathly Hallows — Part 2,” when stuff really goes down, “Part 1” drags a bit, while suffering from the sort of middling middle film feel that comes from the story’s most important events happening before and after those depicted onscreen. Still, the movie achieves its primary tasks: building anticipation for what’s sure to be a slam-bang finale and finally winding down a venture that's past its sell-by date.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1

Opened on Nov. 19 in the United States and Britain.

Directed by David Yates; written by Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J. K. Rowling; director of photography, Eduardo Serra; edited by Mark Day; music by Alexandre Desplat; production design by Stuart Craig; costumes by Jany Temme; produced by David Heyman, David Barron and Ms. Rowling; released by Warner Brothers Pictures. Running time: 2 hours 26 minutes. This film is rated PG-13 by M.P.A.A. and 12A by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger), Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix LeStrange), Robbie Coltrane (Rubeus Hagrid), Ralph Fiennes (Lord Voldemort), Michael Gambon (Professor Albus Dumbledore), Brendan Gleeson (Alastor Mad-Eye Moody), Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley), John Hurt (Ollivander), Rhys Ifans (Xenophilius Lovegood), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy), Bill Nighy (Rufus Scrimgeour), Alan Rickman (Professor Severus Snape), Fiona Shaw (Petunia Dursley), Timothy Spall (Wormtail), Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge), David Thewlis (Remus Lupin), Warwick Davis (Griphook), Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), Toby Jones (Dobby), David Legeno (Fenrir Greyback), Simon McBurney (Kreacher), Helen McCrory (Narcissa Malfoy), Nick Moran (Scabior), Peter Mullan (Yaxley), David O’Hara (Albert Runcorn), Clémence Poésy (Fleur Delacour), Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks), Julie Walters (Molly Weasley), Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley) and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley).


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