Now that I've had a week of perspective, some thoughts on the end of HARRY POTTER and DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART II:
First, I was struck by how well-made the film is. The attention to detail is outstanding, the acting never better, the use of music and color (or lack thereof) and even humor nearly perfect in nearly every moment. Steve Kloves found the oddest, coolest places to insert humor, and of all the films, I think he's written some of the best non-canon dialogue in this one.
Of course, anytime the film diverged from the book, I kind of wanted to twitch. I felt like most of the changes were necessary and understandable (for instance, Voldemort getting weaker each time Harry destroys a Horcrux), but a few dug at me (as Sarah Enni pointed out, McGonagall telling the Slytherins to get out is at odds with JKR's point of allowing the Slytherins a chance at redemption; and why, why did Snape's memories need to come out in tears? By now, we all know the Pensieve uses pearly memory strands). However, with just one exception, all of the scenes I longed to see were brought to life beautifully.
Strange to say, but I loved the savagery. One of the problems I have with BREAKING DAWN is that the stakes are almost non-existent. You never really feel Bella, or anyone except the bad guys, are in true danger. Here, the danger, the brutality, the desperation and awfulness and fear, are very real. The dragon in Gringotts was so battered and bruised and bloody, my heart hurt for him. Voldemort's mass goblin-cide, complete with bloody feet as he steps calmly through pools of fresh blood, displayed both his utter cruelty and his growing desperation. And Voldemort's completely casual order of execution for Snape, followed by Nagini's vicious, visceral attack? If I was 8, I'd probably have nightmares about that snake.
The one exception to my satisfaction was the fact Fred died off camera. I know quite a few people were disappointed we didn't get to see Tonks and Lupin die on camera, either, but I was okay with that. In the book, we do not experience them dying, but Fred? It was a memorable, gut-wrenching scene, one of the first deaths in the Battle of Hogwarts that made me think, truly, all's fair in love and war. I mean, if she's killing a Weasley twin, who could possibly be safe? I felt like I needed to see Fred's death, and was sad the filmmakers chose not to show it.
The epilogue has always been a source of discord among HP fans. Some love it, some hate it, and the same holds true for the film version, it seems. I've always loved the epilogue, and though I was worried how it would translate to screen, I think the film epilogue was well-acted and poignant, the perfect imperfect ending, capturing a lovely mundaneness I'm sure the main characters craved after such a turbulent youth. As the screen faded to black, I could almost hear Jo Rowling saying, "The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well."
I'd been wiping away tears here and there throughout the whole movie, but when finally did fade, a lump formed in my throat and I honestly wanted to cry in earnest. I just kept thinking, "How disappointing. It's really over." In my head, HARRY POTTER had been around too long to be over. Even though I knew it was coming, somehow the fact this was the last film for the last book didn't connect until the credits started rolling.
To me, it was a lovely and moving end to the most beloved book and film series of a generation. The fact tears of disappointment bubbled to the surface at it's end, for me and for thousands of others, only underscores the beauty and worth of it all.