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1 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
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Voldemort

www.telegraph.co.uk
Voldemort

Tryangle Pictures’ Voldemort: Origins of the Heir is an ambitious prequel to the Harry Potter series, made with US$15,000 of crowdfunding and, rather crucially, the blessing of the Potter films’ notoriously copyright-happy Warner Bros, who originally issued a cease and desist on the project until they came to an agreement .

As a result, the film is labelled a “non-profit, non-commercial” endeavour with no links to either Warners or JK Rowling. It’s also been distributed for free on YouTube, where it has notched up nearly 8 million views since its release on Monday. The appetite for fan-made Potter material is huge.

Several unofficial wizard schools have cropped up in recent years, offering live action role play weekends, and official hubs such as Pottermore give a licensed counterpart to the thousands of fan fiction sites online. So, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the latest film in Rowling’s official wizarding world, proving something of a damp squib in 2016, can Tryangle do any better? No, as it turns out, but there is much to applaud along the way.

Hogwarts alumna Grisha McLaggen (Maddalena Orcali) breaks into the offices of the Russian Auror – wizarding term for a spy – General Macarov (Alessio Dalla Costa, also credited as “Actor coach” and thus partly to blame). After rather violently hurting a lot of his men, she is captured and dosed with truth-telling potion Veritaserum.

Thus ensues a glacially-paced series of flashbacks in which we find out why Tom Riddle transformed from an obscenely good-looking student played by Stefano Rossi, into someone who seems to have absconded from a school Nativity play in the Joseph costume, aka Lord Voldemort.

In the books, Voldemort was the official “heir of Slytherin” – the more malevolent of the four witches and wizards who founded Hogwarts several centuries earlier. Conveniently, the three remaining house heirs are magically at school together at the same time.

So McLaggen is heir to Gryffindor, a guy called Wiglaf Sigurdsson who almost certainly should have gone to the tough Scandinavian magical academy Durmstrang is heir to Ravenclaw, and a nice chap named Lazarus Smith is heir to Hufflepuff, but spoils it all by creepily trying to make McLaggen promise to marry him.

Made by an Italian cast and crew, Voldemort: Origins of the Heir is filmed in English. Some scenes, though, such as when the heirs gabble away in the Room of Requirement, look like the actors have lapsed into another language. Even when it is English, the vocal track is frequently so out of sync as to be another film altogether.

Gianmaria Pezzato writes, directs and does the visual effects, which, thankfully, are significantly better than the dubbing. Right from the off, the magic is impressive, and the film is littered with moving photos that give you a genuine jolt of joy. Hogwarts and the owls also look lovely, if, thanks to the Italian filming locations, more Kings Landing than Scotland.

The cast are uniformly gorgeous, with students old enough to be considered too old even by the famously flexible casting standards of a Hollywood teen film. Rossi, in particular, looks fresh from interning at the David Gandy school of Incredibly Good Looking Models. Moroni, supposedly playing an 11-year-old second year, is one lollipop away from being an inappropriate fancy dress costume. Their older counterparts, who look about the same age, “age up” with the help of eyeliner and the hollow laughter of someone who has seen things, man.

The film really makes you feel every one of its 52 minutes, and is totally lacking the exuberance that runs through most devoted Potterheads. Even the lugubrious Harry Potter and the Cursed Child had its lighter moments.

There threatens to be some levity later on when Riddle encounters a wealthy collector who gasps, “You’re Slytherin’s heir!” A musical note blares out “BAAAAAAAAH!” and then Riddle literally cackles.

If the film were all this camp and good natured, it would be joy, but instead the mismatching vocals and tone renders it as po-faced as the Duelling Cavalier scene in Singin’ in the Rain.

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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