The last Harry Potter movie is a pretty beautiful thing, just in terms of flickering pictures on the cave wall and tableaux. It’s very good! As a non-Harry Potter book-reader, it wasn’t even that confusing, despite its having to wrap up 10,000 plots, though I did realize halfway through that I literally had no idea why the guy with the scary face was trying to kill our hero, and vice versa. Why were they so mad at each other again? No clue! Also I was slightly frustrated that the minor characters weren’t allowed to speak very much, if it all. You put Helena Bonham Carter in all that hair and corset and then she gets to grunt two words? That’s like letting the snake out of the cage and not tossing it a rat. (Although perhaps that’s just what she looks like now? Like maybe she wasn’t supposed to be in the movie at all, and Mrs. Tim Burton just rolled up and kept wandering into the shots.) But even Hermione, at last, doesn’t have that much to say, for once. This is quibbling! Things blow up, a Lord of the Rings siege is made, the Big Reveal occurs, people die, and the flummoxing inability of a wizard to use magic to dry out wet clothes is presented to us once again. (Sure, you can stop time and go invisible, but you can’t remove water from fabric with a simple spell? Magicians, stick to thy casts.) So yes, A+++! And then there’s the epilogue. Which: OH NO. We will now drop down some white space so that those who have somehow not yet seen the movie may run away.
With the great menace murdered, with the fascist magical government apparently somehow completely undone, presumably after a series of magical Hague trials convicting the thousands of murderous collaborators (not to mention whatever remains of all the traitorous Jews goblins, and sorry, I know this debate is long retired, but the short hook-nosed bankers, really, it’s just hard to look at), life plainly goes on in great peace and prosperity.
For the epilogue, we skip forward 19 whole years, and there they are: Harry and what’s-her-ginger coupled (Ginny! Thank you, Wikipedia), Hermione and Ron coupled, and between the two couples they have five offspring, who now, in these post-terrorism decades of calm, are beginning to schlep off to Hogwarts for their own undocumented and uninteresting adolescences in the New Age of Calm. Even our childhood nemesis, Draco Malfoy, is doing the same. Ho hum. More like Larry Potter, some aging schlub looking for a good place for a pint in Fitzrovia, am I right?
Now, book readers inform me that this epilogue totally works in book form, and is greatly satisfying. The movie just totally, totally biffs it.
Who rules now? What radical changes have undone the ages of terror and slaughter? What does Harry do for a living? Why do they all look so clean and boring? The great and corruptible Ministry of Magic, so recently a cross between Nazi Germany and the American DMV, is apparently a far less invasive thing, and it seems, from the teenage offspring, that at least a decade has gone by in which our heroes have filled their days with nothing but changing diapers and clocking in at the office.
What sort of grand result is that for England’s Greatest Wizard? Clutching a briefcase on the Tube. Coming home to dull Ginny. Raising a milquetoast who’s scared to go off to magic school. It’s enough to make you not want to grow up — or to at least turn a tiny bit evil. The problem with adventures is that nothing ever happens after, there’s just life and diapers and bedtimes, and looking for something good on the television, and that’s no happily ever after at all.