As a family we’ve pretty well lived and breathed Harry Potter over the last 10 years. And there are few greater pleasures than listening to the audio versions read by the utterly brilliant Stephen Fry.
And one of the big events of our recent road trip was to finally get to see HP7b in a wee retro cinema in a village in Wales (where they had an interval selling ice creams after the ads and before the film – must be a Welsh thing).
Scot McKnight over at Jesus Creed has linked to an interesting interview with J K Rowling where she talks about these two Scripture verses Harry finds in the graveyard in Godric’s Hollow [“The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26) and “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19)]
I think those two particular quotations he finds on the tombstones at Godric’s Hollow, they sum up — they almost epitomize the whole series.” (J K Rowling)
And especially in light of her comments, here is I think a compelling and persuasive theological analysis of 4 major themes of The Deathly Hallows, which, the author Brad Littlejohn argues convincingly, are downplayed if not written out of the film itself.
The Four themes are ‘Death of Death’, ‘Life of the Age to Come’, ‘Atonement’ ‘and ‘The Last Judgement’.
This isn’ to say the film isn’t excellent, I think it is one of the best of the series. Alan Rickman especially is given more scope to be superb as the conflicted Severus Snape. I could watch him act all day.
Here’s a clip of what Littlejohn’s saying – on the ‘Death of Death’. See his full article for the other 3 themes. In our family debrief afterwards, we agreed that the failure to explain Harry’s resurrection and defeat of death was one of the major holes in the movie.
What was your verdict on the Harry Potter finale?
The Death of Death
…. In short, in Harry’s death, we witness the death of death in his own death. Like Christ, “death has no more dominion over him.” What this means is more than just the destruction of another Horcrux; Harry has not just struck one more blow, but in fact the decisive blow. But to bring this decisive blow to completion, Harry must be resurrected. Death must be publicly exhibited as overthrown, its powerlessness before the power of love must be displayed and enacted, Harry must tread the powers of evil underfoot, must reverse the sentence of death that Voldemort has enacted on him by returning it upon Voldemort. And this resurrection must be no mere “rescuscitation,” it must be the return to life of someone over whom death no longer has hold. All of this, I think, is clear enough in the book, although generally hinted at rather than openly set forth.
In the film? Nope. In the film, the conversation between Dumbledore and Harry is abbreviated so as to omit any sustained reflection on the significance of what has happened, and Harry simply asks, more or less, “So, can I go back?” To which Dumbledore replies, more or less, “Well, if you want to.” Why should he be able to go back? On what basis? Can the story just conveniently break the rules of its own world whenever it wants to? No, as in Narnia, what we have here is not the normal rules of magic, but a deeper magic at work. Thus far, the departure in the film is primarily one of omission, not commission, but the ramifications are still significant.