Release Date(s)2010 (March 28, 2017)
Studio(s)Heyday Films/Warner Bros. Pictures (Warner Bros.)
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: B+
Still reeling from the death of Dumbledore, but having solved the mystery of Tom Riddle, Harry Potter now knows it will be his task alone to kill Voldemort in the end. But first, he must destroy the remaining horcruxes, ordinary objects each imbued with a piece of Voldemort’s soul, in order to make the Dark Lord vulnerable. In this task, fortunately, Harry is not alone. The Order of the Phoenix rushes to his aid, as do the Weasley family, and many other allies. But as more and more of the people he loves are killed by the Death Eaters, Harry realizes that he must leave their protection to succeed at his mission. Joined by Hermione and Ron, Harry sets out on his own, determined to find the horcruxes before Voldemort’s takeover of the Wizarding World is complete.
Part 1 of Deathly Hallows is a unique film in this series and, I must confess, one of my favorites. It’s part quest tale and part puzzle-box mystery, wrapped in the Wizarding equivalent of a road film. The story now focuses almost exclusively on Harry, Hermione, and Ron, and each of the young actors playing them give impressive performances. Harry retains his humble and honest quality, even as he begins to fully know what being the so-called ‘Chosen One’ means. Hermione acts as the logical anchor for the trio, grounding their quest and keeping the others on track. And the character of Ron really comes into his own here. He’s thus far been the likable one, the somewhat brash goof-ball who provides the comic relief. But Ron matures a great deal in this film. Having grown up in the magical world his whole life, it turns out that his instincts are better than the other two – he finally becomes this series’ Samwise Gamgee. The direction by David Yates is once again solid and workmanlike. It’s not flashy, but he keeps the action moving, and deliberately breaks virtually every pattern established in the previous films to good result.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 was shot on Super 35 film, finished as a 2K Digital Intermediate, upsampled for this release, and given a new HDR color grading pass. The film is presented here with a running time of 146:05 in the 2.39:1 theatrical aspect ratio. (It’s worth noting that the entire film was converted to 3D, but the work wasn’t completed in time for the theatrical release, so it was released on Blu-ray 3D later, initially as a Best Buy-exclusive – more on this in a moment.) As was the case with Half-Blood Price, there’s more grain visible in the image here than in the 4K version of Order of the Phoenix, but there’s more fine detail as well. Overall detail and texturing are thus excellent. Deathly Hallows – Part 1 has a bleaker color palette than the previous films, befitting its tone, which makes the wider gamut of HDR all the more important. Once again, the darkest areas of the film are more truly black, yet retain plenty of detail, while the brightest parts of the image are coldly brilliant and cause your eye to react. Early examples are the bold flames of Hagrid’s motorbike and the ferocious green-orange magical energy that bridges Voldemort and Harry’s wands in the film’s opening aerial chase. In between these extremes, there are seemingly endless subtle shadings of color. The rare glow of fire and sunlight are all the more richly warm, while most of the rest of the film displays seemingly every color of cool – tans, browns, blues, greens, grays, even gleaming silver and white. Just look at the sky in the wide shot of a field (at 2:26:05), with backlit clouds casting shadows below. Look at the sky again, a few minutes later (starting at 2:26:05), with its melancholy and overcast gloom rendered softly in emerald green, blue, pink, rose, gold, and gray. Look at the color of the hills in the distance in the same shot, and in the texture of the rocks Hermione and Harry are standing on below – all of it subtle and gorgeous. Watching these films with HDR is a revelation.
Strangely, the audio options on this 4K Ultra HD release are limited to English DTS:X (compatible with any multi-channel speaker arrangement you may be using – 5.1, 7.1, etc) and Latin Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, with optional subtitles in English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and Latin Spanish. That’s it. As with the previous Potter films in 4K, the DTS:X mix features much the same clarity and dynamic range as the regular Blu-ray’s DTS-HD audio, but the object-based mix is more expansive and natural, more effortless sounding if you will, as well as smoother and more precise. Particularly strong moments include the aforementioned aerial chase at the beginning of the film, as well as the Death Eaters’ thunderous strike on the Lovegood home, and the soft atmospherics that accompany Hermione’s reading of the “Tale of the Three Brothers.”
Warner’s 4K Ultra HD release is a 3-disc set. It contains the film by itself in 4K on the UHD, plus a movie Blu-ray with the film in 1080p HD. This is the same disc that was released previously in the Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray set, and it includes the following extras in HD:
- Maximum Movie Mode
- Focus Points (6 short featurettes – 19:21 in all)
There’s also a second Blu-ray, all of extras and again the same bonus disc that was included in the film’s previous Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release, called Creating the World of Harry Potter: Part 7 – Story. Its extras, most in HD but a couple in the original SD, include:
- Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 7: Story (47:28)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1: Behind the Magic (44:09)
- Harry Potter: On the Road (19:37)
- The Return of the Order (5:35)
- Scabior and Greyback (4:10)
- Dobby’s Farewell (4:28)
- The Look of Bill Weasley (3:41)
- The Weasleys (3:33)
- The State of Evil (9:58)
- The New Guys (7:06)
- One Book, Two Movies (4:38)
- The Wizarding Prop Shop (5:28)
- The Seven Harrys (5:29)
- On the Green with Rupert, Tom, Oliver, and James (13:38)
- Dan, Rupert and Emma’s Running Competition (2:45)
- Godric’s Hollow/The Harry and Nigini Battle (6:00)
- The Frozen Lake (4:10)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Sneak Peek (4:24)
- Deleted Scenes (8 scenes total – 10:54 in all)
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Promo (6:25)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1: Behind the Soundtrack (3:51)
- Teaser Trailer (2:31)
- Theatrical Trailer (2:23)
These extras represent everything that was created for this film’s previous Blu-ray and DVD releases. You don’t get the Blu-ray 3D version of the film in this package unfortunately, which is a shame, but that’s available separately. This release also doesn’t include the UCE edition’s hardcover book, but there is a Digital HD copy code on a paper insert.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 certainly has all the quirks of a filmed middle-late chapter, but it’s an intense, headlong rush into the unknown, a leap of faith taken by these characters, who have learned to place their trust in one another, and the stakes have never been higher. Warner’s 4K release carries over all the fine Ultimate Collector’s Edition Blu-ray extras, adds a measured improvement in image resolution and sound quality, and its High Dynamic Range opens up the moody color palette in surprising and very pleasing ways. If you love this film, Ultra HD is most definitely the way you should experience it at home. Note that this title is also included in the Harry Potter 8-Film Collection 4K Ultra HD box set (available here on Amazon), which is probably a better deal.
- Bill Hunt