Thursday, March 12, 2015

Do the Endings for Part 1 of Movies of Book Franchises Really Work? (SPOILERS!)

Warning!  This blog contains the spoilers of the final movies and books in a series.  You have been warned! 
                When the movie for the final Harry Potter book was announced, the producers said there was too much story they did not want to get rid of in the final book.  This is curious, since quite a bit was taken out of the fifth and longest Harry Potter book in its respective movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  The last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, became Part 1 and Part 2.  This trend did enable the writers, producers and director to keep more of the story in the movies, but it was also looked at a cash-grabbing idea: split the book into two movies, thereby the audience will have to go twice and spend twice in order to see the whole movie.  There’s also the curious case of where to end, because it’s only half the story.  In this blog we will examine the curious endings of the 1st part of the movies based on the books, because it is not the natural place to end.  
               For Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, Dobby the elf has saved Harry, Hermonie, Ron and some of their friends from Bellatrix Lestrange and the Malfoys at Malfoy Manor.  At the last second, just as they are about to disapparate (sort of an instant transport) away, Bellatrix throws a knife…which hits and kills Dobby.  Dobby dies in Harry’s arms and Harry buries him.  The last scene has Voldemort finding the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand ever.  Things are looking bad for our heroes.  In fact, they quite have their work cut out for them.
                The next franchise that thought it would be a good idea was the Twilight Saga, specifically Breaking Dawn, which was also split into Part 1 and Part 2.  The Twilight Saga books and movies, though popular, also had the unfortunate distinction of not being critically admired, so it makes a stronger case that it was a cash-grabbing move.  In Breaking Dawn, Part 1, Bella has had a difficult pregnancy, due to the fact her baby is half-vampire.  She dies giving birth, but not before her vampire husband Edward bites her to turn her into a vampire in order to save her.  At first, she is thought to be dead.  Jacob, the werewolf also in love with Bella, tries to kill the baby but imprints on the baby; when other werewolfs come to attack, Jacob saves the family from destruction.  The final scene is Bella being healed by the vampire venom and waking up a full vampire.  This one ends on higher note, with Bella, thought to be dead, waking up in the vampire state.  The werewolfs also were driven off.  The danger has passed for now, but more to come in the final installment.
                The Hobbit is the short prequel to the much larger and more expansive Lord of the Rings.  While many were looking forward to the Hobbit, it was then announced the Hobbit would be made into two, and then three movies.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was the first movie.  At its ending, Azog, an evil Orc, has chased the dwarfs and Bilbo the Hobbit into the trees.  Thorin the leader charges at Azog but he is knocked down.  Bilbo saves Thorin and then all of the dwarfs are saved by the Eagles.  Now in safety, Gandalf returns and revives Thorin.  Thorin finally accepts Bilbo as a member of the group, when he previously did not.  The final scene is Smaug awakening.   In the Desolation of Smaug, the dwarfs and Bilbo try to rekindle the mountain’s forge, to hopefully bury Smaug in melted gold.  Instead, Smaug escapes the mountain and flies toward Laketown, the village that had helped the group earlier.  Bilbo wonders, “What have I done?”  The first movie felt like a more natural stop, but the conflict between Bilbo and Throin was not in the book.  The second one, which is in the book, is however much more of a cliffhanger and not a natural stopping point for the movie. 
                The Hunger Games franchise also split the final book, Mockingjay, into Part 1 and Part 2.  Part 1 ends with Katniss finding out the one she loves, Peeta, who had been secretly rescued after being under the capitol’s control.  As soon as Peeta sees Katniss, he tries to choke her to death, but someone knocks him out in time.  Katniss finds out Peeta has been mentally conditioned to kill her.  The last scene ends with Peeta in insolation, strapped down as they try to undo his conditioning.  Peeta is saved yes, but his mind is damaged, perhaps forever. 

                The first parts of movie have a difficult time finding a proper ending, because they have no choice but to end in the middle.  Finding a logical stopping point means that many times, it ends when the characters are at their lowest emotionally, such as in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Mockingjay, or just right in the middle of things, as it feels with the Desolation of Smaug.  Breaking Dawn feels like a new beginning, as Bella came back to life, but it still tells only half the story of the book.  Perhaps that is always the first part’s downfall: it only tells half the story, and we are left wanting the rest, leaving the movie unsatisfied.  

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