Friday, July 15, 2011
On 'Hallow' ground
Fourteen years ago, I opened to the first page of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and fell in love with the rich universe J.K. Rowlings created. Since then, I’ve read every novel and seen each film—some of which have brought some good God-talk into these open spaces. This morning—with butterflies in my stomach—I walked into the theater to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, assured by the film’s 98% "fresh" rating at Rotten Tomatoes that this last chapter would be amazing. Indeed, I encountered something powerful—but it wasn’t the film. Or, at least, it wasn’t simply the film itself.
I first became aware of it when the film began: the silence. I can’t remember ever experiencing such an utter stillness in a theater before. And it remained just as powerful and consistent as the film went on—which is the second place I noticed it. Long moments of silence are woven throughout this film itself. And as those moments occurred on screen, I was repeatedly struck by how everyone around me was still. No one moved. All was hushed. (And something that made the silence so much more palpable was an older child who would cry out or clap his hands in the midst of some of those moments. It was apparent to everyone that he couldn’t control his actions and his sounds were involuntary—and not once did I hear anyone utter a complaint or ask him to be quiet, another new experience for me.)
This silence was, I think, a kind of reverence.
And, if you think about it, perhaps that’s appropriate. After all, the story we’ve watched over the years, and this final chapter in particular, echoes some powerful divine and profound truths in our own Story. Like this world is broken, evil seeks to do us in, and death stalks us all—but none of us, even in dark shadow of death, is alone. And it is not the dead we should pity but the living, especially those who don’t know love. For this life is just the beginning and, faster than falling asleep, we will go oh-so-much further on.
And, best of all—yes, best of all—love wins.
Thank you, Ms. Rowlings, for giving us such a story. And thank you, Mr. Yates, for giving us such a reverent final chapter.