Year Released: 2011
Directed by: David Yates
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes
(PG-13, 130 min.)
"Let’s finish this the way it started. Together." Harry Potter
This final showdown between Harry and Lord Voldemort – we can actually say his name now – will keep you on the edge of your seat with its nonstop action and unraveled secrets. But there is very little of the early magic that penetrates the gray darkness casting its pall on this ultimate battle between good and evil.
Maybe that’s as it should be when the stakes are this high. Not much time for Quidditch tournaments and high-speed broomstick shenanigans. Nor a minute to spare gaping in pleasant terror at Hagrid’s latest adopted beastie. Way too busy to sit down at the candlelit long tables in Hogswarts and worry over which elegant pudding to choose. Not a moment to set back and ponder life over a pint of cold butterbeer. And even Professor McGonagall’s awkward dance lessons are distant memories now.
Perhaps that’s why I when look back upon an early picture from the first Harry Potter film with Hermione (Emma Watson) all snub-nosed innocence, Ron (Rupert Grint) not much more than a mop of red hair and a silly grin, and Harry himself (Daniel Radcliffe) all but lost behind his owlish glasses, I feel like a mom looking at the family album after dropping off the first born at college. These little moppets with magic wands instead of three wheelers had to grow up and meet the dark cruel world, but we can’t help but mourn their lost innocence and yes, ours, as well. Perhaps Robert Frost said it best:
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.
Yes, most of the old friends and foes are there, but there’s not much character development now. Theirs are mostly cameo performances in this film. Maggie Smith comes in to awaken the giant warrior statues surrounding Hogwarts to put their symbolic protection in more tangible form. Giggling that she has always wanted to perform this incantation, she provides one of the few lighter moments in decidedly darker events. And we know times are bad when Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) is reduced to mute immobility at the terms of his captives. We’d at least have hoped for a good growl of two.
Helena Bonham Carter still lights up the screen in disheveled malevolence as Bellatrix Lestrange, smiling behind blackened teeth and Medusa like locks. We even get the pleasure of hearing Molly Weasely (Julie Walters as Ron’s mother) call her out as the female dog we know her to be.
Both Dumbledore (Michael Bambon), his legend alive even if he is not, and Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), personally my favorite character of the series, are shown to be more complex than we might have been led to suspect, while Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes playing the great noseless wonder) finally strides fully onto the screen instead of eating up the edges of it.
Up close and personal, even with his horrible slithering snake companion Nagini, Lord Voldemort is less frightening now. Perhaps that’s because Harry is succeeding in killing off some of the horcruxes that secretly hide pieces of his soul. But he is even more loathsome in the way of a sniveling villain. His face, once a handsome one when he was Tom Riddle, is now serpentine and is the perfect manifestation of his evil soul.
In a twist where fiction echoes reality, Neville Longbottom (Matt Lewis), the bumbling boy wizard with an unfortunate name, chubby cheeks and bad teeth, becomes a sort of hero in this finale. When he approaches Lord Voldemort, who has entered Hogwarts, the evil one thinks he has a new follower. He is soon disabused.
Lord Voldemort: "You show spirit and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom."
Neville Longbottom: "I'll join you when hell freezes over!"
Perhaps most remarkable is the physical transformation of the actor himself, who has lost the baby fat, had his teeth straightened, and emerged as perhaps the best looking of the bunch.
What the film does nail, however, is the inevitability of evil, its insatiable thirst and our obligation and duty to battle it to the very end. The battle will leave behind innocent lives and well-deserved deaths, but it is a battle that we as well as Harry are compelled to join.
“Ron's mum, Mrs Weasley, is a great baker and one of her favorite cakes to make are Rock Cakes. Rock cakes are delightful spicy, scone-like cakes and lovely warm from the oven spread with a little butter. They are one of the quickest and easiest cakes to make.” Brooke Dunbar
These delightful confections are really light and delicious, not to be confused with Hagrid’s version of such, which really are like rocks and so hard one could actually break a tooth on them. The name for them comes from their resemblance to rocks when dropped on a cookie sheet.
Enjoy with the final installment of the Harry Potter series. They may be the only light and sweet thing about this ever darkening saga.
Here are a few more delicious English sweets:
Mrs. Weasley’s Rock Cakes
“Ron's mum, Mrs Weasley, is a great baker and one of her favorite cakes to make are Rock Cakes. Rock cakes are delightful spicy, scone-like cakes and lovely warm from the oven spread with a little butter. They are one of the quickest and easiest cakes to make.”
- 2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup of butter (refrigerated)
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1/4 cup of raisins or dried fruit
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 egg
- 2 Tablespoons whole milk
- coarse sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line pan with wax paper.
- Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.
- Use hands to add butter until mixture is crumbly.
- Add sugar and dried fruit/raisins.
- In a separate bowl, mix together vanilla, egg, and whole milk.
- Add to mixture and stir (preferably with hands) until mixture comes together in a ball.
- Separate into 2 inch balls (slightly larger than a Tablespoon). Dip half of the ball in a separate bowl of course sugar and place on wax-paper lined pan at least 2 inches apart.
- Bake for 12-16 minutes until tops of cakes turn to a golden color.
- Cool before eating.
Recipe Source: examiner.com