Gear up for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" with a screening of "Deathly Hallows: Part 1," either at the Johns Hopkins Outdoor Film Series tonight or the Lakefront Film Festival a week from tonight. Warner Bros.'s willingness to make "Part 1" so widely available is a sign of the studio's pride in the older film and its confidence in the newer one.
David Yates, the acclaimed British TV director who made the last four Potter films, has become a big-screen master of tension, atmosphere and emotional suggestion. He's skilled enough to deliver whatever dramatic effects he wants.
A few years ago he told me, "I'd wanted 'Order of the Phoenix' to be an intense journey with a troubled young kid, more social-realist than the other films. But 'The Half-Blood Prince' is more heightened, and if 'Deathly Hallows: Part 1' is quite verite and goes back to that social-realist style, 'Part 2' should be epic and operatic."
No reviewer or fan has summed up the style of the last three Potter movies more aptly or succinctly -- and the trailer for "Part 2" does look "epic and operatic" in a most promising way.
What's kept the movies alive is Yates' affection for his actors. He loves the "gear changes" he's been watching Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson pull off as Harry and Hermione grow into adolescence. And he's particularly proud of the way Rupert Grint has filled out the part of that archetypal Brit public-school scamp Ron Weasley.
"He's always been the funny one, but he has so much more as an actor than that. In Prince, he has lovely stuff that's funny and true, but in' Deathly Hallows,' he must be defensive and haunted, and Rupert took to that like a duck to water. I'm always thankful that Jo Rowling gave us a world that allowed us to turn corners with the actors."