Saturday 27 February 2016

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2 (David Yates, UK | USA, 2010 | 2011)

In one of the most beautiful and disturbing moments of recent cinema, Harry Potter – defeated by the evil wizard Voldemort with a killing curse – awakens to discover himself dead. Apparently… Yet all
is not as it at first seems. Harry walks in his own limbo-construct. Curiously, he encounters a dying version of the evil Dark Lord, curled up foetus-like. This bloody abortion is a horcrux, torn from its host – Harry. As Harry explores the immense brilliant-white dream environment (‘like King’s Cross Station, only cleaner’), he stumbles upon a manifestation of his old mentor Dumbledore, and – finally – learns the truth. Harry is not dead. Rather, Voldemort has unknowingly destroyed a part of himself that was hidden within Harry, and Harry is now free of his horcrux function. His body in the real world is merely unconscious.

Horcruxes are magical objects that host a quantum embodiment of one’s soul, effectively making the owner immortal. If you have transformed an object into a horcrux and your body is destroyed, you can be resurrected through the power of a horcrux. Yet the deal is monstrous. These objects can only be created in the wake of a killing. Voldemort, known as Tom Marvolo Riddle when young, discovered this forbidden dark spell and, over the years that followed, set about creating a number of horcruxes for himself as he arose to become the Dark Lord. However, just before he attained total power over the world, he was involved in an event that brought Harry into the story and which also stymied his diabolical plan. For Voldemort – attempting to annihilate all resistance – killed the Potters, but in so-doing was himself destroyed. Yet, at that moment of his death, a part of his soul attached itself to their son, Harry. Since this event, Harry has been a horcrux of his reptilianesque foe – unbeknownst to himself and indeed the subsequently resurrected Voldemort. It is such a resurrection that concerns the films of the cycle preceding the Deathly Hallows diptych; and it is the final diptych that will see Voldemort once again attempt to take over the world. Concomitantly, Harry and his friends discover the source of Voldemort’s immortality: the horcruxes. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 begins the quest to identify, locate and destroy these magical objects – a particularly difficult and dangerous task, and one that remains unfulfilled, awaiting Part 2. In this second film of the Deathly Hallows, furthermore, it is revealed Harry must also sacrifice his own life to the cause – there has always been a link between himself and Voldemort, forged in the moment of the Dark Lord’s first death, and Harry is led to believe severing this link is essential. Hence the duel in the woods with the evil wizard, and Harry’s apparent martyrdom. Yet in the limbo-construct, Harry understands the subterfuge, a necessary secret kept from him by Dumbledore so Voldemort would not discover the deception. For the Dark Lord – the creator of this horcrux – was the only one who could destroy its function without annihilating Harry.

The scene is now set for the young wizard’s consciousness to return to his body, his friends and the fray – in order to complete his mission. For only once all the remaining horcruxes are obliterated will Voldemort be mortal, and only then can he finally be killed. These horcruxes are thus very powerful magical objects, and can be seen to be essential to the story of the Deathly Hallows. Indeed, the whole Harry Potter cycle is dependent upon these and other magical objects: wands, crystal balls, amulets, broomsticks, animals, even sports equipment. Deleuze calls such objects ‘fetishes’. Fetishes are impulse-images, the condensation of primal forces and intensities from the world in special objects. It is these objects which sustain, retain and preserve energies, and which, under certain conditions, will discharge these energies back into the world...

To read the full exploration of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 and Part 2 through the Deleuze's sign of the 'fetish,' see Deleuze's Cinema Books: Three Introductions to the Taxonomy of Images...

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