This one’s not quite like a normal review. I’m not going to summarize everything or give you the background, because there’s too much of it, and I don’t know why you would have watched this final film if you hadn’t seen all the others and/or read all the books, anyway. So I’m just going to go over some of my thoughts with regards to some of the themes, and how they line up with the Bible.
Firstly, there is a pretty excellent parallel that can be drawn between this film and the passage in 1Corinthians 12, on spiritual gifts. Yes, yes, Harry’s the only one who can defeat Voldemort, (according to the prophecy), but he would never have succeeded without the help of all his allies! Everyone has an essential role. Everyone that fights to protect the castle and give him time to find the diadem horcrux, Ron and Hermione who destroy the cup horcrux, Neville who destroys the snake horcrux. Dobby who saved them at the end of the last film. Harry’s efforts would have been in vain, and he most likely would have failed anyway, without the help of every last person who fought. And so, even though Harry is “The Chosen One,” his friends and supporters are every bit as important and heroic.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensible.” -1 Cor. 12:21-22
That last bit really makes me think of Neville. Go Neville!
Harry is not my favorite character, and I like him a bit less in the movies than the books, (because the movies insist on making him even more foolishly reckless), but I do admire Harry’s bravery. In this film he does willingly go into the woods like a lamb to slaughter fully intending to die for his friends, once he realizes that it is what needs to be done to end Voldemort’s reign of terror and save everyone else. The Bible says,
Greater love has no man than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. -John 15:13
It is a selfless act, but let’s be clear, Harry is not a Christ figure. He doesn’t promise to save people spiritually, only physically. He isn’t a blameless sacrificial lamb. The reason it must be him is in fact not because he’s so good, but because he has such a bit of evilness inside him, (his horcrux scar), that it must be destroyed. And so, Harry is brave and selfless not to resist, to realize that however much he may want to preserve his own life, doing so would prolong the suffering and harm of others. But he isn’t Christ. And his coming “back to life” is not synonymous with Christ’s resurrection, because for one thing, it isn’t clear whether he was actually dead or merely unconscious during that interlude, (he certainly wasn’t pierced in the side and buried for three days), and secondly even if he did “die” and then come back to life, the explanation would be that it was because he possessed the three Deathly Hallows and was master of death through mystical relics, not his own power. Christ’s resurrection allows us to say,
Death has been swallowed up in victory.
-1 Cor. 15:54
Harry’s “resurrection” only means a victory for him, but Christ’s victory over death is for all who believe and call him Lord. (That verse comes from the same passage as the lines on Harry’s parents’ gravestone, by the way.)
Finally, there is Snape. Oh, my beloved, tragic Snape. My feelings about Snape are complicated; on the one hand, I want to defend him, (I wore a home-made shirt that read “I believe in Snape” to the midnight release of the final book, so confident was I that his true loyalties were with Dumbledore), and I want to praise his incredible bravery and selflessness. But the truth is that much of his heartbreaking misery was of his own making. Poor Snape, who cuts himself off from all supportive fellowship with everyone but Dumbledore, and then he is forced to kill the one person that knew and believed in the real him! But he didn’t have to be so alone! His insistence that Dumbledore never tell anyone of his love for Lily is motivated only by pride. And he clings to his bitterness towards James, allowing it to poison his relationship with Harry as well, overshadowing the fact that Harry is Lily’s legacy, her own flesh and blood. And yes, Snape sacrifices everything to protect Harry because he is Lily’s son, but what if he had been able to overcome his jealousy, hurt, and anger, and been an actual father figure towards Harry? It’s easily the largest part of Snape’s tragedy, that he misses out on what could have been such a meaningful relationship because he can’t let go of the past. As my friend EBR pointed out to me, the image of Snape clinging to Lily’s lifeless body while ignoring her living, crying son in the background is a perfect illustration of how he chose to focus his energies for all those years.
Snape is without question a hero, but he’s not one that we can unquestionably emulate. Be like Snape in the way he remains thanklessly devoted to his goal. Be like Snape in the way his every choice and his every action is in service of the welfare of someone other than himself. Be like Snape in the way the core of his being is defined by an everlasting, gut-wrenching love and devotion. But don’t be like Snape in the way he clings to the dead and fails to engage with those living around him, how he chooses to exile himself from fellowship, how he chooses to live alone and bear a needlessly solitary burden of pain and bitterness instead of opening himself up to the healing possibilities of reconciliation and forgiveness. (Snape is the eye that tried to say to the rest of the body, “I don’t need you!”).
Oh, and do try to be like Snape in the way he speaks so clearly, slowly, and deliberately. “Ex………pelliarmus!” Love it.