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"Deathly Hallows: Part 2" Test Screening Held Today in Chicago; Leaky's Full Report Here (Updated)

DH Film
Posted by: Edward
April 02, 2011, 07:48 PM

A working cut of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 film was test screened for an audience of approximately 400 this afternoon in Chicago, Illinois.  Leaky was in attendance and will be updating this post with full details, recaps, and information about this early cut of the last Potter film.  

Please note at the request of WB, we have taken out most of the big spoilers. There are still some small spoilers here but it is mostly what you know from the book, and our own opinion of what we saw on screen.

Update 2: Leaky's full text report on the working cut of the film is now available to read.  Enjoy!
This afternoon, I was lucky enough to be among 400 other movie fans to attend a test screening of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" in Chicago, Illinois.  Rumors had been circuiting around the internet about this screening, but confirmation that it was Harry Potter didn't come until just before the film started.  Since this was a working cut of the film, many effects and scenes were not finished.  At least 50% of the special effects were still in the CGI rendering stage, and green screens were visible throughout the film.  Also, a number of specific shots were title cards on the screen as placeholders for the full, finished shot or effect.
The film itself focuses on the battle to defeat Voldemort.  Three quarters of the film takes place at Hogwarts during the final battle for the school.  Hogwarts is torn down around us with the violence brought by the thousands of Death Eaters, army of spiders, giants, and dementors.  Even without all of the special effects complete, you can already tell how grand and cinematic the final product will feel.  The second half of the "Deathly Hallows" film is an action-packed adventure where good and evil come together for the final showdown.  The way Harry moves through the film, discovering what he needs to know in order to ultimately destroy Lord Voldemort is paced perfectly, even if the journey he takes is not what was outlined in the book.
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint continue their high caliber of performances as Harry, Ron, and Hermione from the first part of the film, but Alan Rickman (Snape) and Maggie Smith (McGonagall) really do steal the show.  Snape gets to become a fully emotional character in this film, as evidenced via the phenomenal Prince's Tale memory sequence, slipped into the ranging and bloody battle for Hogwarts.  Snape is a heartbroken shell of a man when Lily is killed, and we see every level of those emotions in Rickman's performance.  The Prince's Tale scene is one of the best moments in the entire series, and stays with you long after you leave the theater.
The look of the film suits its mood and the kind of action which takes place; the battles are raw and dark, the lighter or tender moments are warm, and the glow of the Epilogue seems radiant after an hour of nearly non-stop battles, death, and destruction.
Following a short montage of Voldemort taking the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's grave, the film opens with Hogwarts Headmaster Snape observing as students are marched, in lock step, across a courtyard in the castle.  We are then taken to Shell Cottage where Harry, following the burial of Dobby, speaks with Griphook and Mr. Ollivander.  Warwick Davis does extremely well as Griphook and gets to truly flesh out the conniving goblin part of this role.  The film moves quickly onto the Gringotts heist scene, where we see excellent work by Helena Bonham Carter who picks up on Emma Watson's nervous sighs and mannerisms as she pretends to be Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix.
After the Gringotts heist, setting off alarms as they apparate into Hogsmeade, the Trio are beckoned inside by Aberforth.  Ciaran Hinds gives an excellent performance as Aberforth Dumbledore, and even manages to resemble and emulate Michael Gambon's Albus Dumbledore.  Hinds' scene at the Hog's Head is chilling as he delivers a monologue to Harry, trying to convince him of Albus' uncaring actions towards Harry.  All the while, the portrait of Ariana sits over Harry's head, observing the scene before being sent off to retrieve Neville and reveal the passageway into Hogwarts.
While Harry searches for the Grey Lady, with some sage advice from a surprisingly forceful Luna, McGonagall and the other teachers secure the school.  Smith does a top job here, commanding the Knights of Hogwarts to defend the school... a spell she almost giddily admits to being one "[she] always wanted to do..."  A forcefield of protection domes the school, which, we later find out, has the power to disintegrate Death Eaters on contact. 
For the last hour of the film we are taken along a series of interconnected journeys and battles that are mixed in with flashbacks and mind connections between Harry and Voldemort.  It is truly impressive to see how so many different characters and sequences are tied together.  Nothing in the last hour felt either sloppy or pieced together.  It flowed so well it was as if you were panning around the castle seeing elements of everything happening at once.  There are flashes of Percy Weasley, Trelawney, Sprout, and other familiar faces fighting alongside the Order.  The entire last act truly feels as epic and thrilling as you'd want it to be.   A particular highlight is when Aberforth casts a mega patronus over the castle and grounds to repel a swarm of Dementors that are about to envelop the castle.
In a change from the book, a number of shots were added to the memory scene showing Snape at Godric's Hollow, discovering the dead bodies of Lily and James.  Snape falls to the floor upon seeing Lily's body, and then cradles her in his arms, sobbing, as the year-old Harry Potter looks on from his crib.  Rickman's scenes with Michael Gambon (Dumbledore) also hit the mark, showing the backstory of Dumbledore's search for the horcruxes and Snape's love for Lily.  Young Snape, Lily, and Petunia have been cast perfectly as well... even young James Potter seems to have been captured the way Snape's character remembers him from the book.
In Snape's death, Rickman gives a chilling performance along with Ralph Fiennes, who goes on a Death Eater killing spree as he learns the last bits of his soul are being systematically destroyed. 
As mentioned above, the Prince's Tale memory is the emotional high point for the entire film series.  It flows beautifully among the battle going on around Harry, and allows for a quick breath and dose of reality for Harry.  Lasting for about six minutes, the sequence was set to the temporary score of "Dumbledore's Farewell" from "Half-Blood Prince" which worked beautifully in this edit, even though it is sure to be changed for theatrical release. 
In the category of 'applause and cheers moments' falls Bellatrix's duel with Mrs. Weasley.  "Not my daughter, you bitch" is delivered exactly how one would imagine it, and their fight atop a raised platform in the Great Hall is a momentary show stopper.  This is juxtaposed with the heartbreaking moments when we realize that Fred, Tonks, and Remus have all been killed.
J. K. Rowling's source material is used nearly verbatim in the forest scenes. The film maintains the illusion that Harry is dead until he leaps from Hagrid's arms in the Hogwarts courtyard. 

The final battle between Harry and Voldemort spans the last fifteen minutes of the film, which is intercut with Ron and Hermione's attempts to kill Nagini.  They do not deprive Neville of his moment, however, who stands up to Voldemort and gives a rallying cry to keep fighting for Harry even after it is thought Harry is dead.  Neville steps in to kill the snake seconds before it is set to pounce on Hermione and Ron.
Harry and Voldemort's final duel is as wide-ranging and epic as the rest of the film's action. 
Following the screening I was able to speak with David Heyman who commented that they may tweak some elements for the sake of clarity, such as the succession of the Elder Wand occurred in the story.  These alterations, Heyman said, could happen in a flashback or memory sequence.
The working cut of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" showed the talents of the filmmakers and actors involved in the creation of this film, even without every element being 100% complete.  I can only imagine how much more amazing the finished cut will be when it premieres in theaters this July.

Update: A special episode of PotterCast is now available on iTunes and via this link talking, in detail, about this early cut of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 film.

Here is a preliminary bullet-point list of the main points from the screening [Please note that WB has requested that we remove the major spoilers from this article, so our point-by-point summation has been removed. Please see our slightly spoilery review above.]

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98 Points

That’s the spirit HalfbloodPrince08 =)

Posted by HarryLoony on April 03, 2011, 01:01 PM report to moderator
534 Points

Wow. It sounds amazing. I am soooooo gonna cry when it comes out!

Posted by hermioneginnyluna on April 03, 2011, 01:08 PM report to moderator
104 Points

“I think Beazle is making the point that Jackson actually cares about the characters and didn’t do anything that’s out of character.
Do you remember is 6 when Harry was written to just stand and watch Dumbledore die? Yeah, that’s massively out of character for him. The book Harry would’ve been up in front of DD, defending him. That’s why Jo wrote him to be bound by a spell.
Kloves, WB, Yates, they just don’t care about the characters.”

Two words: “Faramir” and “Gimli”

Posted by Fastbak on April 03, 2011, 01:16 PM report to moderator
110 Points

I can honestly say i got goosebumps reading this and nearly started to cry. The days can not pass quickly enough to see this epic masterpiece come to and end.

Posted by hopieg on April 03, 2011, 01:27 PM report to moderator
1921 Points

What bothers me most, as Melissa comments on, is the running around casting spells at each other in that final scene. Harry wouldn’t have tried to kill Voldemort if he didn’t know that all the horcruxes had been destroyed—and Neville doesn’t destroy Nagini until the last moment. Plus, Voldemort’s wand wouldn’t have worked its spells against Harry (thru all that romping) because it knew that Harry was its master. Obviously done for a movie-only audience, one which doesn’t know the intricacy of the Elder Wand’s ownership or Harry’s bravery. Do they bother to tell us that Harry was the 7th horcrux? Probably not.

Posted by izziewitch on April 03, 2011, 01:28 PM report to moderator
149 Points

One more point on comparing Jackson’s LOTR to Potter :

In the book how many Orcs actually made it through the gates of Minas Tirith ?

Answer : One

How would THAT have made for cinematic filming of a battle ? Not too well.

The point remains, don’t compare adaptations. To the HBP point of Harry not being under a spell ? We NEEDED to SEE Harry’s horror , on his face, in his eyes, not a frozen Harry incapable of showing emotions !!

This film will be fine, beyond fine. It will be amazing and it will tug at our hearts. Singing the old song of " that’s not in the book " probably makes Jo Rowling laugh and say " Of course not ! This is a film !! "

Posted by Hinkypunkmum on April 03, 2011, 01:33 PM report to moderator
98 Points

Oh boy! The one thing I definitely WON’T MISS about the whole experience is the whining and the complaints!! Unfounded and one sided only!!

Posted by HarryLoony on April 03, 2011, 01:35 PM report to moderator

My complaint-as was Melissa’s was not based at all on so called “book purity” which is irrelevant when one speaks of a film. What the complaint really concerns is the lack of respect for the source material (come on, Harry and Volde wrestling off a cliff ala Holmes and Moriarty or Raiders III !) and the implicit lack of respect for the core audience by as one of the podcasters said “Turning an adult book into a little kids movie”

And don’t get me going on Lord of The Rings, the producers of which and the cast and crew, formed a close alliance throughout the making, with the “one ringers” fan group / website (Leaky equivalent) leading up to the big night when they shared their 12 Oscars at THEIR party and not the posh Vanity Fair party !

Thats what I call love of the core fan base. And then, the crafted beautiful extended length versions of their films -mainly for the core fan base.

So, please, please- don’t embarrass yourself by trying to say WB care even the slightest about us compared to Jackson and crew.

Posted by Beazle on April 03, 2011, 01:39 PM report to moderator
98 Points

Like I said, won’t be missed!!

Posted by HarryLoony on April 03, 2011, 01:42 PM report to moderator
803 Points

is it just me, or is no one talking about THE KISS? was it that bad?

Posted by abandonedboyjon on April 03, 2011, 02:08 PM report to moderator

“is it just me, or is no one talking about THE KISS? was it that bad?”

Well-it could not be any worse then the worst kiss ever captured on screen-Harry and Ginny .

Posted by Beazle on April 03, 2011, 02:15 PM report to moderator
71 Points

I’ve been dying to know how they’re going to work out the whole Ron/Hermione kiss since no house elves were mentioned throughout the entire thing, except Kreacher and Dobby but we never saw Hermione go crazy for them. :(. Oh well. They’re super talented and they have good chemistry so I think it’ll be done beautifully. The whole film will be amazing, although I think I may have to throw something at David Yates if he messes up the final battle. It’s just a test screening with a lot of work to be done, there’s still hope for it to be as epic as it should.

Posted by hermioneweasley17 on April 03, 2011, 02:34 PM report to moderator
4481 Points

Amazing! Thank you so much for the descriptive play-by-play. Spoilers abound or not, it only increased my anticipation for the film! That is such an incredible opportunity. Just one question – how much did you cry? :)

Posted by Smitch on April 03, 2011, 02:59 PM report to moderator
11771 Points

They’re supposed to be teenagers kissing, not Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor!

Posted by Valeria-Johanna on April 03, 2011, 03:01 PM report to moderator
98 Points


Can you please let the others enjoy the remainder of our time with our series without complaints!? PLEASE!!

Posted by HarryLoony on April 03, 2011, 03:05 PM report to moderator
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