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HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS gets animated

Two stills from Reiniger’s THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED

Reviews of the second to last film of the Harry Potter empire are mixed. There are the die hard fans who will eat up anything Potter & Co. churn out and then, on the other hand, are the Harry haters whose spiteful critiques of the movies take all the easy hits (too sentimental, not enough magic) and ultimately waste everyone’s time. So say what you will about Harry Potter, THE DEATHLY HALLOWS may carry the markings of a film that’s trying to be more than just transition to a finale, but its post-apocalyptic scenes of Harry, Hermione and Ron moving silently through desolate (and beautifully shot) landscapes and running low on friendly cheer are some of the film’s most captivating moments. There are plenty of super-CG chase scenes and wand-lashing, spell-throwing fights, but its the quiet, tense moments where the trio has run out of ideas and are wallowing aimlessly in a canvas tent in the middle of nowhere that give an otherwise transitional piece some heft.

Still, the very best moment of the film, the scene that would get me back in the theater a second time, was a very unexpected short animated sequence that plays out while Hermione reads “The Tale of the Three Brothers,” the origin story of the Deathly Hallows. Directed by Ben Hibon, the gorgeous animation takes strong cues from Lotte Reiniger, the first female animator and creator of the oldest surviving animated film, THE ADVENTURES OF PRINCE ACHMED, a feature-length stop-motion film dating back to 1926. Told in beautifully cut silhouettes against a variety of colored backgrounds, its fairytale-like story is similar in tone to Hibon’s work in Harry Potter. Unfortunately, there are no legal images of it to put up here, so you’ll have to see the movie for yourself. I don’t suppose I can coax out anyone who’s not a fan of The Boy Who Lived, but I promise it’s worth every minute of the two and a half hour-long movie.