SPOILER ALERT! If you’ve yet to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 (or finish the book) stop reading now. Our polls will be here when you’re ready.
And… you’re still here. Let’s get emotional!
I remember the day I read Deathly Hallows. I locked myself in my apartment and didn’t leave until I finished it because I was afraid someone would spoil the ending. I’d been on my bed, flipping from my back to my side to my stomach for hours, but when I got to Harry’s walk in the Forbidden Forest, I had to sit up. As I read his conversation with his parents, Sirius, and Lupin, I saw it unfold as a movie in my head and it gutted me. If you’ve had to face the possibility or reality of losing someone close to you in real life, you truly understand the depth of the simple exchange “You’ll stay with me?” “Until the very end.” Then add on the fact that it’s a 17-year-old orphan who’s battled all that Harry has for seven years asking the father he never knew that question… Tears. Did the scene make me cry in the theater? Yes. It wasn’t a single tear. It was a string of single tears. I love that screenwriter Steve Kloves had Lily tell Harry that they had never left him, so when he said, “Stay close to me,” she could respond, “Always.” I had expected that we, the audience, would get to see his parents, Sirius, and Lupin walking alongside Harry until he announced his arrival to Voldemort. In the book, that’s when he drops the Resurrection Stone and they disappear even to him. In the movie, he drops the Resurrection Stone before he begins that unseen final walk, which, frankly, makes more sense — better to do it as far away from the eyes of a Death Eater as possible. But I wanted that exquisite torture of seeing Harry flanked by the quartet to last longer.
I’m not complaining too much, because Kloves added in a scene just before that one that made me tear up, too. In the book, as Harry’s leaving the castle for the forest, he stops to talk to Neville and tell him to kill Nagini. He doesn’t want any goodbyes — he thinks Ron and Hermione would try to stop him from going alone, and he doesn’t want their attempts to waste valuable time. He ends up seeing Ginny while under his invisibility cloak, but he never sees Ron and Hermione. “He felt he would have given all the time remaining to him for just one last look at them; but then would he ever have the strength to stop looking? It was better like this,” Rowling wrote. In the movie, Harry doesn’t talk to Neville, nor does he see Ginny. But he runs into Ron and Hermione, who are sitting together grieving Fred’s death. Harry tells them he’s headed to the forest and while they protest at first, Hermione knows Harry has learned something — what she probably guessed as he did: there’s a reason he can speak Parseltongue. There’s a part of Voldemort that lives in him. For Voldemort to die, that part of Harry must die, too. The line that got me: Hermione’s teary “I’ll go with you.” If Rowling believed that Harry seeing his friends and having the option of their company would test his will to sacrifice himself, then Kloves’ script makes him look even stronger. It’s because Daniel Radcliffe stayed dry-eyed that my eyes got wet. (Anyone else wonder why Ron didn’t hug Harry? Maybe he was too numb from the loss of Fred to process the thought of losing Harry, or to even move. Maybe the filmmakers just wanted Harry and Hermione to have that moment, and they’d always physically comforted one another.)
I also teared up when, in the Pensieve, we saw Snape cast his doe Patronus to show Dumbledore that it was Lily he still — and would always — care for. The music during that montage of memories was achingly beautiful, particularly when Snape sat on the floor and held dead Lily in his arms and sobbed as baby Harry cried in the crib behind him.
As for when I got chills, it happened three times. The first was when Professor McGonagall used the Piertotum Locomotor spell to turn the castle’s statues into foot soldiers. “Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries, protect us, do your duty to our school!” The Battle for Hogwarts — representative of all that’s good, imaginative, tolerant, and heartfelt — was on. The second was deep in the battle when the massive wall of Patronus(es) was cast to push back oncoming dementors. Aberforth wasn’t mentioned as being a part of that moment in the book, but the movie almost made it look like he did it all by himself even though members of Dumbledore’s Army stood wand-ready beside him. Regardless, it confirms he hadn’t given up. My third chill came at the end of the epilogue, when the train to Hogwarts departs and we see the 9¾ platform sign. It wasn’t just that the film — and franchise — was coming to a close, it was that Hogwarts and all it stands for still exists.
Your turn. Which moments got you misty and gave you chills?