21 Most Memorable Movie Moments: Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort Duel from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 (2011)

Longtime Harry Potter director David Yates understood the weight of the franchise's final showdown and stuck with his instincts to deliver an emotionally satisfying resolution.

by | May 2, 2019 | Comments

Watch: David Yates on the final battle of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 above.

In 2019, Rotten Tomatoes turns 21, and to mark the occasion we’re celebrating the 21 Most Memorable Moments from the movies over the last 21 years. In this special video series, we speak to the actors and filmmakers who made those moments happen, revealing behind-the-scenes details of how they came to be and diving deep into why they’ve stuck with us for so long. Once we’ve announced all 21, it will be up to you, the fans, to vote for which is the most memorable moment of all. In this episode of our ‘21 Most Memorable Moments’ series, director David Yates breaks down the Harry Potter franchise’s defining, climactic battle between good and evil.


The Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) 96%

Movies rarely come with the kinds of lofty expectations that were foisted upon the Harry Potter franchise, but movies are also rarely adapted from existing properties that are widely beloved, pop culture-defining global sensations. Thankfully, Warner Bros. found the right people to place both in front of and behind the camera to bring J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World to cinematic life, and the result was one of the most critically and commercially successful film franchises ever to flicker across the big screen.

David Yates has served as the series’ go-to director beginning with the fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; he’s since helmed every movie in the franchise, including the two recent Fantastic Beasts spinoff installments. His biggest challenge lay in bringing the original series to a close in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2, the latter of which was to feature the climactic battle between Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter and Ralph Fiennes’ Lord Voldemort. But Yates had a specific vision in mind for the final book in the series.

Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.

(Photo by Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Bros.)

“I read the book and it felt, to me, that you could create two interesting films.”

“It was Lionel Wigram, who’s one of our lovely producers, who felt maybe this movie could fall into two parts, because it was quite an extensive book. I read the book and it felt, to me, that you could create two interesting films. One was very much the kind of blockbuster, entertaining conclusion to the whole series, which had lots of bells and whistles and lots of battles and a great deal of scale, and then the first one — when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are out in the real world for the very first time, away from school, having to learn some really hard life lessons — that, to me, felt like it could operate almost as an independent movie on its own terms. Very small-scale, very delicate. A much more intimate movie, if you will.

I used to joke with Steve Kloves, who adapted Hallows Parts 1 and 2, that we were probably making the most expensive European art house movie ever with Hallows Part 1, because it didn’t feel like a big movie, with all the bells and whistles. It felt much more intimate and much more delicate than that. And then, of course, with Part 2, we were able to finally round out the series, and that felt much more appropriate that we sort of went out with a bang.”

“You stick with what you feel is right and what’s true, fundamentally. And I think we did it.”

“There was… this feeling that, there had been seven movies, and you had to kind of come out in a way that fulfilled everyone’s expectations. Especially your own, in terms of turning this epic story that Jo had created. So I think that was probably the biggest challenge, and knowing that expectations were sky high, and that people wanted to have a properly satisfying emotional resolution to this series of stories. Knowing that you have those expectations on your shoulders, you follow your instincts, and you stick with what you feel is right and what’s true, fundamentally. And I think we did it. Just sitting with an audience in all the test screenings as we were finishing the film, you could feel it in the room that people who had stuck with you on that journey across all those movies felt moved and elated by the end. It was a very satisfying feeling.”

The Moment: Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort Duel

Beginning with the first film in 2001, each of the Harry Potter movies came somewhere between four or five years after their source novels were published. In other words, when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 arrived in 2011, book readers already knew what was coming: an epic showdown between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort. As Yates explains, he made a conscious decision to deviate from the book.

Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

“I always felt it would be wonderful to give this confrontation almost the feel of a Western.”

“This relationship has been ongoing throughout this series of stories, but it’s only really in this final movie that we get to spend some substantial time with them finally facing each other. In the book, that confrontation takes place in the Great Hall, and I always felt that it was important, in a way, having waited seven movies for this confrontation to finally take place, I always felt it would be wonderful to give this confrontation almost the feel of a Western. So it’s very iconically defined by these two figures in this vast courtyard, facing off with each other. Not with necessarily a big audience, as took place in the book, but something that felt much more singular, and the architecture and the landscape of the school was very much like a Western.

Harry sort of carries the spirit of Voldemort, in part, and they have this unity, and I had this idea that Harry and Voldemort are at the top of a school tower, and as they confronted each other… Dan would grab Ralph, and actually pull him off this tower, and they would apparate around the school together, and as they apparated around the school together, we’d explore this weird visual synthesis that exists between the two of them, and they’d eventually tumble down into the courtyard.”

“The sequence became about a boy facing down… this demon that had haunted him right throughout his childhood.”

“So, I always wanted to get it out of the Great Hall, away from an audience, so the sequence became much more about a boy facing down this nemesis, this demon that had haunted him right throughout his childhood. This is the figure that had killed his parents. And so it became a much more iconic, singular battle between these two figures. I like that singularity and I like that simplicity, because you could really focus right into Harry’s eyes and Voldemort’s realization, in the moment when he loses the Elder Wand, that he’s beaten. So for me, I like taking it into this down and dirty place, where it was literally a scramble in the mud to finally decide who was gonna win that battle that had been going on for such a long time. And that leanness and earthiness was always something that I felt was right for that final confrontation.”

The Impact: Fantastic Success and How to Find It

Warner Bros.

(Photo by Warner Bros.)

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels were a worldwide phenomenon unto themselves, but the film series launched that phenomenon even further into the stratosphere. The so-called Wizarding World now includes a spinoff film series, theme park attractions, video games, and even a West End stage production that follows up on Harry Potter’s story 19 years after the events of Deathly Hallows. The series’ early and frequent success spawned a mad rush to find the next Young Adult-aimed sensation, and others like The Hunger Games, Twilight, Divergent, and The Maze Runner — as well as a slew of unsuccessful would-be franchise-starters — followed in its footsteps.

The Harry Potter series is also one of just a handful that can boast Certified Fresh installments from beginning to end, signaling consistent critical acclaim, and it ranks as the third highest-grossing of all time, behind only the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars saga. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is the culmination of seven movies over the course of a decade, and to put it in context, it’s not only the best-reviewed film of the series at a Certified Fresh 96% on the Tomatometer, but it’s also the highest-grossing of the bunch, earning a massive $1.3 billion at the global box office. That was enough to make it one of the top 10 highest-grossing films of all time… until the recent release of Avengers: Endgame knocked it down to number 11. Still, that’s no small feat.

Of course, for those who can’t get enough of the Potterverse, there’s still the Fantastic Beasts films, the most recent of which opened just last November. It’s unlikely that series will be able to replicate Harry Potter‘s extraordinary accomplishments, but as David Yates’ Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 so clearly demonstrated, it takes time and a whole lot of careful craftsmanship to build to a fantastic, emotionally gratifying finale. Given another decade’s worth of thoughtful storytelling, Fantastic Beasts may yet earn its own “Harry vs. Voldemort” moment.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 was released on July 15, 2011. Buy or rent it at FandangNOW.

Adjusted Score: 110108%
Critics Consensus: Thrilling, powerfully acted, and visually dazzling, Deathly Hallows Part II brings the Harry Potter franchise to a satisfying -- and suitably magical -- conclusion.
Synopsis: A clash between good and evil awaits as young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) prepare... [More]
Directed By: David Yates

Tag Cloud

classics cancelled TV series streamig anthology comic book movie BET Awards Adult Swim films Turner book what to watch Logo Captain marvel Avengers Family finale docuseries best game show YouTube Premium Valentine's Day supernatural Instagram Live streaming movies deadpool slasher comiccon Fall TV adenture joker popular feel good action-comedy Mystery Starz harry potter The Witch canceled TV shows Tumblr criterion technology live action The Walt Disney Company revenge obi wan Hallmark Christmas movies ABC Family blockbuster kong discovery lord of the rings 2020 boxing Mudbound Podcast President james bond El Rey slashers universal monsters Apple cars FX on Hulu black japan crime thriller medical drama Oscars Wes Anderson TruTV Universal Pictures rotten venice Pet Sematary Winter TV renewed TV shows See It Skip It Horror BET superhero fast and furious Writers Guild of America telelvision Trophy Talk south america Film Festival HBO Max GLAAD 72 Emmy Awards comic breaking bad 007 japanese festivals Year in Review TCA 2017 2018 satire Pop DirecTV new york BBC One X-Men NBC Rom-Com Hulu rom-coms werewolf remakes debate summer TV preview First Look mob Best Actor Dark Horse Comics comic book movies tv talk Sundance TV Travel Channel space DC Comics PBS Photos Set visit docudrama Amazon Prime Video GIFs TV Christmas unscripted hollywood archives Turner Classic Movies 99% FX reviews South by Southwest Film Festival latino Amazon Cosplay Country based on movie National Geographic Television Academy child's play pirates of the caribbean trailers Cannes toy story Stephen King new zealand boxoffice Paramount Pictures Nickelodeon Marathons Watching Series wonder woman trophy gangster Paramount Plus Rocky ViacomCBS crime Hear Us Out cancelled TV shows New York Comic Con free movies rt labs critics edition The Purge zombies adaptation BAFTA jamie lee curtis LGBTQ Certified Fresh ESPN NYCC TLC Warner Bros. mockumentary Infographic worst movies Best Picture WarnerMedia nbcuniversal YA cartoon A24 sequels Biopics Black History Month Martial Arts Trivia leaderboard Premiere Dates true crime rt archives Amazon Prime USA thriller BBC America singing competition 4/20 Sneak Peek Comic Book SXSW 2022 natural history Crunchyroll San Diego Comic-Con IFC Films king kong festival cooking Music disaster The Arrangement Marvel Studios PlayStation know your critic SundanceTV prank italian scary movies Arrowverse Lifetime Christmas movies women Disney streaming service Shudder Masterpiece First Reviews Film spanish language razzies screenings Image Comics MTV Creative Arts Emmys Song of Ice and Fire new star wars movies critic resources quibi justice league twilight travel Rocketman Disney+ Disney Plus Acorn TV 2015 Amazon Studios Best Director spy thriller nfl Character Guide 79th Golden Globes Awards biopic VOD Apple TV Plus halloween The CW SDCC Broadway Brie Larson dark Exclusive Video Epix Grammys romantic comedy serial killer french Mary Poppins Returns dramedy Disney Comics on TV Vudu 71st Emmy Awards rt labs spain asian-american Comedy Central Video Games Musical RT21 Drama Fox Searchlight A&E dexter Emmys Quiz hispanic heritage month live event The Walking Dead Sony Pictures richard e. Grant critics 93rd Oscars USA Network NBA Pirates suspense scene in color romance sports target ratings TNT franchise documentary 73rd Emmy Awards 2016 dceu aliens CW Seed DC streaming service Discovery Channel Best Actress indiana jones strong female leads black comedy Best and Worst superman Britbox scary Fargo heist movie 21st Century Fox anime Opinion APB crime drama Rock LGBT Awards Tour sitcom period drama Extras DGA parents news TCA Awards Oscar TCA godzilla Marvel blaxploitation Emmy Nominations Walt Disney Pictures Elton John sag awards E! Esquire screen actors guild WGN Lifetime comics dogs zero dark thirty marvel comics TIFF TV Land Shondaland Pride Month Red Carpet Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Tomatazos Sundance Pacific Islander FOX social media AMC Plus toronto talk show Disney Channel hist IMDb TV Columbia Pictures Hollywood Foreign Press Association Anna Paquin summer preview Crackle cancelled war kids halloween tv Nat Geo 90s Comic-Con@Home 2021 Star Wars binge international Spike basketball Endgame HFPA The Academy diversity 45 video VICE documentaries Heroines politics ITV Syfy crossover comic books Polls and Games PaleyFest BBC Toys CBS All Access game of thrones Mary Tyler Moore teaser psycho all-time OWN biography composers Alien king arthur streaming Box Office Tubi Universal Musicals Women's History Month golden globes foreign chucky award winner Classic Film zombie monster movies Apple TV+ MSNBC E3 Pop TV hidden camera Interview olympics RT History spinoff stand-up comedy TV movies Teen Academy Awards jurassic park 2021 Election Kids & Family Action transformers HBO Go Pixar saw kaiju genre a nightmare on elm street Focus Features casting spider-man marvel cinematic universe Binge Guide Calendar TBS 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards vampires mcc blockbusters 24 frames ID concert royal family historical drama cats 94th Oscars YouTube 2017 Fox News CMT book adaptation high school American Society of Cinematographers TCM ghosts christmas movies indie adventure Peacock Showtime Ellie Kemper laika ABC Signature facebook Mindy Kaling TCA Winter 2020 Spring TV AMC GoT Tarantino television stop motion theme song Reality Competition Reality Countdown 2019 20th Century Fox CNN worst football Disney Plus animated Thanksgiving Food Network series rotten movies we love movies Western MGM Ovation posters young adult TV One nature name the review Lionsgate Winners Fantasy police drama cinemax emmy awards Prime Video IFC Mary poppins dc cancelled television DC Universe History ABC dragons robots Sci-Fi Paramount Summer political drama HBO Nominations TV renewals Comedy children's TV Sundance Now CBS OneApp SXSW movie legend aapi Ghostbusters Hallmark directors scorecard 1990s VH1 Star Trek obituary miniseries Paramount Network batman green book Legendary sopranos canceled stoner Schedule summer TV FXX Holiday Superheroe die hard mutant witnail MCU hispanic reboot sequel independent YouTube Red versus golden globe awards Tags: Comedy Awards Super Bowl Spectrum Originals Black Mirror Marvel Television doctor who Tokyo Olympics cops Baby Yoda Freeform comedies vs. Bravo Funimation science fiction Cartoon Network elevated horror Netflix Animation Trailer Chilling Adventures of Sabrina spider-verse cults broadcast australia Neflix mission: impossible Chernobyl art house Superheroes Lucasfilm Holidays psychological thriller spanish Netflix Christmas movies video on demand Television Critics Association fresh dreamworks