This movie is the first of two based on the seventh and final book in the Harry Potter series.
The dark lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) has become very powerful and is determined to survive, no matter what. When he was young, he tried to ensure his immortality by splitting his soul into seven parts, or Horcruxes, and hiding them all over the world. Despite this, he continues to see Harry as his greatest enemy and the greatest threat to his existence.
Meanwhile, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is at the end of his time at Hogwarts. He leaves the school to go to a safe house, but is attacked on the way. He manages to reach the safe house but is followed and has to disappear quickly. Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) go with him, and together they begin a quest to overthrow Voldemort by finding the Horcruxes and destroying them forever.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
The supernatural; death of loved ones; cruelty; taking on a dangerous quest
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows contains intense action violence throughout, as well as some blood and gore. For example:
- Charity Burbage floats helplessly above a dinner table, as if paralysed. She begs Snape to help her. Voldemort point his wand at her, and a green light erupts out of its end. The light hits Charity, and she falls down on to the table dead, her eyes open and her face splattered with droplets of blood. A giant snake slithers towards her and seems to be about to eat her.
- In a giant aerial battle between the Death Eaters and the wizards protecting Harry, the fighters fire their wands at each other, and wizards and witches are knocked off their broomsticks. During the battle, many giant power towers explode and crash to the ground. While being chased by Voldemort, Harry grabs at his chest, screwing up his face as if in pain as if having a heart attack. There are also several small bloody cuts on his face.
- George Weasley is left unconscious after being attacked by Death Eaters. He has a bloody wound on the side of his head where his ear has been badly injured.
- When a group of Death Eaters attacks a wedding party, one of them turns into a dark shadow and engulfs a wizard as if eating him whole. The Death Eaters fire bolts of energy from their wands and blast people, tables, chairs and other debris in all directions.
- Harry, Ron and Hermione have a wand fight with two Death Eaters. Bolts of energy fly in all directions, and Hermione blasts one of the Death Eaters off his feet. At the end of the fight, the Death Eaters are unconscious on the floor and there are several small bloody cuts covering Ron and Hermione’s faces.
- Dream images show Voldemort grabbing a man’s throat while threatening him.
- Several Dementors (shadowy ghost-like creatures) chase Harry, Ron and Hermione and reach through the bars of an elevator cage to get at Harry. The Dementors try to suck Harry, Ron and Hermione’s souls from their mouths. Swirling vapours leave their mouths and are sucked into the Dementors’ mouths.
- After being hurt in an accident, Ron lies on the ground with severe bloody cuts to his upper arm – muscle and tissue are visible. Hermione pours a magical potion onto the wound, which heals instantly. Blood covers Hermione’s hands and arms.
- In one scene, a giant snake attacks Harry. Hermione fires blasts of energy at the snake with her wand. The aftershock explodes windows in the house.
- While swimming beneath an ice-covered pond, Harry is attacked by a Horcrux locket he is wearing around his neck, which tries to strangle him. Harry frantically kicks at the ice, then sinks to the bottom of the pond before Ron pulls him to safety.
- An animated shadow puppet play features one puppet cutting the throat of another with a large knife. Shadow-like blood splashes onto a wall. A second shadow puppet hangs himself.
- Bellatrix strikes out at two men with a whip. The whip wraps around the throats of the two men and almost strangles them.
- Bellatrix tortures Hermione, either biting or cutting her hand. Hermione cries and screams in pain for a long time. Later we see the words ‘mudblood’ cut into Hermione’s wrist.
- Bellatrix holds a knife to Hermione’s throat, threatening to kill her if Harry and the others do not surrender.
- Bellatrix throws a knife at Dobby. He clutches at his blood-covered stomach before he collapses and dies in Harry’s arms.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- While a group of Death Eaters sit around a dinner table at Malfoy Manor, we hear screams in the background.
- In several scenes, Death Eaters appear as menacing, black, smoke-like shadows that swirl their way across the sky at great speed and materialise into people.
- Several scenes contain images of a giant snake with a very threatening appearance.
- Voldemort is a very scary character with pale skin, a bald head and a face with snake-like qualities.
- Younger children might be scared or disturbed by the sinister appearance of the elf Kreacher.
- When Harry and the others travel by magic, their faces and bodies distort, becoming elongated and warped.
- The Dementors have a threatening ghost-like appearance and are dressed in long, swirling and torn black robes. They also have long skeletal fingers.
- An old woman transforms into a giant snake.
- When Harry opens a Horcrux locket, a gigantic, swirling black mass erupts from it. Hundreds of large black spiders come out of the locket and crawl towards Ron.
- Several scenes feature old witches and men with ugly disfigured or sinister faces.
- We see an image of Dumbledore’s dead body lying in a tomb.
- Harry’s owl Hedwig is killed.
- Harry talks about the death of his parents and goes to look at their graves.
The violent and disturbing scenes described above might also frighten children in this age group.
Younger children in this age group might also be disturbed by scenes mentioned above.
In one scene, Voldemort tells how one of the teachers at Hogwarts would have ‘us’ (magical people) ‘mating with muggles’ (non-magical people).
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains some use of substances. For example, people drink champagne at a wedding celebration.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Ginny walks into a room wearing a dress unzipped at the back and asks Harry if he can zip her up. The pair face each other, hold each other and then kiss passionately.
- A woman kisses Ron on the lips when she mistakes him for her husband.
- Hermione’s captor strokes the side of her face in a suggestive way.
- A projected image of Harry and Hermione pictures them standing naked with their arms wrapped around each other and kissing passionately. The images are meant to both arouse and taunt Ron.
There is no product placement of concern in the movie itself, but associated merchandise is being marketed to children.
The movie contains some mild coarse language and name-calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a fantasy action movie that seems to be made for an older adolescent and adult audience. It is darker than previous Harry Potter movies, and contains more intense action violence and drama. At 146 minutes, it is also very long. It is definitely not suitable for children and younger teenagers.
The main message from this movie is that fighting evil and standing up for your principles can cost you great personal sacrifice and suffering.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include friendship, loyalty, support, perseverance and bravery in pursuit of a quest.
You could also talk about the parallels between Voldemort and real people from history, and how power in the wrong hands becomes evil, resulting in harm to innocent people.