The Elder Wand is the biggest, baddest wand there is—but symbolically, it's so much more than that.
For one, it's a big flashing red light that's screaming "Danger! Danger!" in Harry's general direction. Why? Well, because Voldemort has it. As Ollivander tells Harry, with the Elder Wand in Voldemort's hands, Harry's odds of surviving his upcoming epic battle with the Dark Lord are, um, quite low:
OLLIVANDER: He's after you, Mr. Potter. If it's true, what you say, that he has the Elder Wand, I'm afraid you really don't stand a chance.
So, yeah, early on, the Elder Wand kind of embodies just how steeply uphill Harry's battle is going to be.
The wand also becomes symbolic of the lust for power that Voldemort (and of course, many others) have, but Harry manages to avoid. Even Ron is tempted by the lure of this stupidly powerful wand when Harry ends up with it at the end of the movie:
RON: What should we do with it?
RON: Just saying, that's the Elder Wand. The most powerful wand in the world.
With that, we'd be invincible.
Harry doesn't seem to like Ron's enthusiasm about the wand—after all, this particular Hallow has already caused a couple of murders—so he destroys it immediately. Smart kid, that Harry.
And besides, Harry and the others manage to defeat the Dark Lord without the Elder Wand, right? Sure, the wand wasn't working properly for the Dark Lord because its allegiance was to Harry (who knew?), but still—if a bunch of kids can go up against a powerful wizard wielding that wand and win, wethinks there's something more powerful than any stinking Hallow.
This sword has bailed Harry out a couple of times in the course of the series, so we have some strong positive feels about it. If it hadn't appeared to Harry in the Chamber of Secrets, after all, where would we be? And it was super-handy that Snape sent the sword to Harry when he was trying to destroy Horcruxes back in Part 1.
Overall, we're pro-sword.
Unfortunately, some other folks are also very pro-sword, but in a kind of grabby/greedy way. Harry has to promise to give the Sword of Gryffindor to Griphook, a goblin who used to work at Gringotts, in exchange for his help breaking into the bank to find a Horcrux. Griphook ends up taking his payment mid-mission and running off, leaving Harry and the others in serious danger.
That sword was so important to Griphook, he really didn't have the time or inclination to think about anything (or anyone) else. To him, the sword was a prize, not an instrument for quashing out evil (as it is for Harry and the gang).
Karma circles around and nips Griphook in the butt, though. We don't see what happens, but we know he ends up dead on Voldemort's floor, and the sword disappears from his cold, dead hands. It only reappears at the end of the film, when it presents itself to Neville, who then uses it to kill Voldemort's snake.
The takeaway from all this? The sword isn't something that can be owned; it has a whole kind of life and purpose of its own, which mostly involves appearing to/helping out good folks. And for sure, it is not some prize to be won or bartered for.
And Griphook learns this the hard way.
Like the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone is one of the "Hallows" mentioned in the "Tale of the Three Brothers." (Remember that from the previous installment of HP and the Deathly Hallows?)
And, also like the Elder Wand, the Stone possesses some pretty crazy powers…but with a downside.
If you were paying attention during the last film, you know that people can use the Stone to talk to the dead and keep them around you in ghost form. Sound pretty good? Well, sadly, bringing back the dead can actually be pretty depressing—since, you know, these ghostly folks can't actually come back and live with you fully.
So, in the tale, the brother who owned the Stone ended up killing himself to be with his former love for real, rather than have her around in this weird "halfway" sense. The Stone's power really just reminded the dude and his ghost love of what they were missing, rather than making them feel like they were together again.
Dumbledore left Harry the Resurrection Stone (disguised in a Snitch) in his will, and Harry uses it just before he goes to battle Voldemort. However, he doesn't use it to try to bring the dead back for an extended period or anything. Rather, he just wants to have a chat with his parents and some other departed friends (like Sirius and Lupin) to give him strength before he himself goes to accept death.
See, this is the remarkable thing: Harry totally embraces the fact that he thinks he's going to die, which he signals to the audience by dropping the Stone on the ground before going to face Voldemort.
Now, you'd think that he might want to keep something called the Resurrection Stone around, just in case it might help prevent him from being killed, but Harry is totally willing to sacrifice himself if it means the end of Voldemort.
In short, his abandoning of the Stone shows just how brave he really is.
Of course, irony of ironies, the Stone may have ended up protecting Harry after all, in some way. We already knew Harry inherited the invisibility cloak from his father, and we learn at the end of the film that the Elder Wand's allegiance was actually to him.
Sure, he dropped the Stone off before facing Voldemort, but he was still the owner, right? So, technically, Harry owned all three objects and therefore (according to the myth) would have been the master of death.
Is that why he survives Voldemort's Killing Curse again? Who knows? But the Stone definitely symbolizes Harry's willingness to lose it all and embrace death, which ends up saving everyone from Voldemort—even Harry himself.
Ever notice that every blockbuster movie has the same fundamental pieces? A hero, a journey, some conflicts to muck it all up, a reward, and the hero returning home and everybody applauding his or her swag? Yeah, scholar Joseph Campbell noticed first—in 1949. He wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces, in which he outlined the 17 stages of a mythological hero's journey.
About half a century later, Christopher Vogler condensed those stages down to 12 in an attempt to show Hollywood how every story ever written should—and, uh, does—follow Campbell's pattern. We're working with those 12 stages, so take a look. (P.S. Want more? We have an entire Online Course devoted to the hero's journey.)
We pick up right where we left off in the last film, with Hermione, Harry, and Ron staying at Bill and Fleur's. Oh, and Luna, Ollivander, and Griphook are there, too—they all escaped Malfoy Manor together.
We'd say Harry and his friends got that call seven movies ago, wouldn't you agree?
But yes, Harry is moving on to the next stage of that adventure: finishing off Voldemort's Horcruxes. To that end, he talks/bribes Griphook into helping him break into Bellatrix Lestrange's vault at the Gringotts bank. Harry believes there's a Horcrux hidden in there.
Before leaving on the Gringotts mission, though, Harry meets with Ollivander—you remember the wand-maker, right?
Harry learns that Ollivander gave Voldemort information about the location and owner of the Elder Wand. Ollivander never believed that Voldemort would get his hands on the wand, but Harry has news for him: Voldemort definitely has it. Ollivander basically tells Harry that, if that's true, he's toast.
Nonetheless, Harry being Harry, he still plows ahead with the whole Horcrux mission.
Griphook successfully guides Harry and the gang into Gringotts while perched underneath Harry's invisibility cloak. They encounter some difficulties, but with Griphook's help, they end up in Bellatrix's vault.
Of course, Griphook ends up betraying them and running off with the Sword of Gryffindor before helping them get out…so, he's not much of a mentor. Nonetheless, they all make it out of Gringotts safely.
After the escapade in Gringotts, Harry has one of his visions that take him inside Voldemort's thoughts. Voldemort has found out about the break-in at Gringotts—and so he knows that Harry is hunting Horcruxes. In the same vision, Harry realizes from the wanderings of Voldemort's thoughts that there's probably a Horcrux hidden at Hogwarts.
So, Hermione, Harry, and Ron head to Hogsmeade (the town outside of Hogwarts) to try to find a way into the castle. There, they meet Aberforth Dumbledore (brother of Albus), who helps them into the school by giving them access to a secret passage.
Harry, Hermione, and Ron arrive back at Hogwarts, and everyone who hasn't seen them in months is thrilled. However, the action is heating up, and not in a good way. Voldemort arrives at Hogwarts and starts threatening the students and teachers with imminent death if they won't turn Harry over.
However, the teachers and students (well, except for the Slytherin students, perhaps) aren't planning to sell Harry out. McGonagall promises Harry that they will try to hold off the Death Eaters and Voldemort as long as they can so he can do what he needs to do in the castle (which is find that Horcrux).
Thanks to a tip from Luna, Harry figures out that the Horcrux is probably Rowena Ravenclaw's lost diadem. So, he goes to visit the Grey Lady, the ghost of Ravenclaw Tower, who also happens to be Rowena Ravenclaw's daughter.
After some hemming and hawing, the Grey Lady gives Harry the intel he needs: the diadem is in the Room of Requirement.
So, Harry heads to the Room of Requirement, but he finds he's not alone when he gets there. Draco and his pals Crabbe and Goyle follow him in there because they want to get Draco's wand back from Harry (Harry won it from Draco at the end of the last film), and then Ron and Hermione show up fresh from destroying the Gringotts Horcrux with a basilisk fang.
And then one of Malfoy's buddies, Crabbe, unleashes a crazy Fiendfyre snake, and Ron, Hermione, Harry, Draco, and Goyle barely make it out alive (Crabbe, well, doesn't make it out at all. You know what they say about playing with fire).
Once they've escaped the fiery room, Harry and his friends destroy the crown…and Voldemort is muy angry. Harry actually feels Voldemort's anger when the crown Horcrux "dies," and gets yet another glimpse of the Dark Lord's mind.
As a result, Harry realizes that Voldemort's snake, Nagini, is the last Horcrux. Harry then voluntarily goes back into Voldemort's mind so he can find out where the Dark Lord (and the snake) are likely to be hiding out.
When Harry, Hermione, and Ron go to find Voldemort, they witness the Dark Lord murdering Snape in order to gain the allegiance of the Elder Wand. Voldemort leaves, and Harry tries in vain to help Snape.
Before he dies, though, Snape gives Harry one of his memories to view in Dumbledore's Pensieve. From the memory, Harry learns that Snape has been loyal to the good guys all along…and, in less happy news, that Harry himself became a Horcrux when Voldemort killed his mother.
What does that mean? Well, that Harry has to die in order for Voldemort to die. NBD.
Harry doesn't dilly-dally about what has to happen next. Voldemort has given Harry an ultimatum via a kind of magical loudspeaker over the grounds. It goes something like "Meet me in the Forbidden Forest, or all your pals will die."
After seeing Snape's memory, Harry heads straight out to the Forbidden Forest and faces Voldemort. Voldemort aims the Killing Curse at him, and everything goes blank.
When we see Harry next, he appears to be in some kind of limbo (and limbo looks a lot like London's King's Cross train station). Dumbledore is there, and he and Harry have a chat about what exactly is happening. Dumbledore explains that while the part of Voldemort that lived within him is dead, Harry himself…well, he can definitely go back to the land of the living, if he wants to.
Harry seems kind of into the idea of heading into the Great Beyond and leaving his worldly troubles behind, but since Voldemort is still out there, and his friends are still in danger…you know what he's going to do.
So, yeah, Harry is literally resurrected. He pretends to be dead for a little while to gain the advantage of surprise over Voldemort/the Death Eaters, but eventually he reveals that he's so not dead.
There's more dueling and drama among the good guys and the Death Eaters, Neville kills Nagini, and then Harry defeats and disarms Voldemort. Turns out, the Elder Wand wasn't loyal to Voldemort, so it's no match for Harry's spell.
Having defeated the most evil dude in the whole Wizarding world, Harry heads back to the castle to be with his friends. And, as Porky Pig would say, th-th-that's all, folks.
Remember how sad it was in the previous installment of HP and the Deathly Hallows, when Harry and the gang couldn't return to Hogwarts for fear of, you know, getting murdered?
Well, that all changes this time around: a big portion of the movie takes place at the school.
The kids start out at Bill and Fleur's house, recovering from their adventures on Malfoy Manor and Dobby's death, but Harry quickly gets on the move—he has Horcruxes to find and all. After a misadventure in Bellatrix Lestrange's vault to retrieve one of those Horcruxes, the kids are headed back to Hogwarts to take care of the final ones.
Unfortunately, Harry's arrival at Hogwarts = the castle is immediately besieged by Death Eaters. But do you think a few (hundred) Death Eaters could take down Hogwarts? Yeah, right. The entire school (well, except for Slytherin) comes together to take on Voldemort. The castle's statues even join in the fun and do battle with the Dark Lord's cronies.
Anyway, magical statues and cool pyrotechnics aside, it's appropriate that this is where the story ends, since Hogwarts has been a super important place to both Harry and Voldemort. After all, it's where their journeys as wizards began, right?
And it's where one of their stories ends. For good.
As we mentioned in our "Mode of Production" analysis, we're still pretty much aligned with Harry's narrative perspective, which means that the storylines are simple: We're on Harry's journey, traveling with him, seeing what he sees…you get the picture.
However, there's one little interruption to that linear path, and it comes via Snape. Right before Snape dies, he gives Harry a memory to "watch" in Dumbledore's Pensieve. Through that flashback, we learn that Snape is loyal and has been protecting Harry all along.
Also—less happily—we learn what Harry's next step must be: sacrificing himself to Voldemort.
It's a brief interruption of the main narrative, but that memory definitely shakes things up big time for Harry and his friends.
Harry Potter has always straddled a few different genres. Here's the rundown of how and why Deathly Hallows, Part 2 earns a place in these categories:
But we digress: the point is that the film is not short on drama, either. So, yeah, we'd say the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 is pretty much a three-category wonder.
Well, we kind of covered this in the learning guide for Part 1, but just to recap: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows draws its name from the boy hero at the center of the action and these legendary objects that supposedly, if held together, can make someone the "master of death."
This film focuses a great deal on just one Hallow, though: the Elder Wand, which is supposedly the most powerful one in the world. Voldemort got his hands on the wand at the very end of Part 1, and now everyone is pretty worried about Harry's odds of defeating Voldemort in battle.
What happens with this and the other two Hallows? You'll have to tune in to find out (or, you know, read the spoilers littered throughout this guide).
How much time do you have?
The ending is pretty epic: Harry goes to confront Voldemort, lets Voldemort "kill" him, hangs out with Dumbledore in some kind of weird limbo place that looks like a train station before deciding to go back to the world of the living, and then plays dead for a while so he can pick the perfect moment to surprise Voldemort and defeat him.
Once Harry reveals himself as undead (er, wait, we mean not-dead—he's not a zombie), he duels Voldemort, flies around the Hogwarts grounds with him, then duels some more…and yup, after all that, Voldemort is finally dead (with some help from Neville, of course, who destroys Voldemort's last Horcrux).
It took eight movies, but we're finally there: The Dark Lord is defeated.
As the kids have gotten older, the content of these Harry Potter films has also gotten more mature. Sure, there's always been some scary stuff, but now the kids are dealing with a ton of fighting and violence…and, yeah, even death.
We've seen that before, of course—after all, we lost both Dumbledore and Sirius in previous films. However, this film is exceptionally heavy on violence and death, with lots of Hogwarts folks losing life and limb in the Battle of Hogwarts.
It's scary, suspenseful, and could definitely be scarring for the under-13 crowd.