Adapting Harry Potter

DSC_0466Adapting a popular book series that spans seven years and contains over 4,000 pages is a difficult task. For the most part, Steve Kloves (the screenwriter for the series) did a great job transferring the major themes and characters from the page to the silver screen, and it would be ridiculous to expect every single aspect from the books to carry on to the films, but any big fan of the book series will agree that there are some things that are just annoying about the movies. It’s hard to say who is to blame for this. It could be the director, Kloves, or the producers of the films that made these decisions. Regardless, here are our biggest beefs.

The third challenge in The Goblet of Fire 

It’s a toss-up for which Harry Potter movie is my least favorite, but the treatment of the final challenge in The Goblet of Fire is easily the biggest beef I have with the films. In an interview with Mike Newell, the director sited Kubrick’s The Shining as direct inspiration for the wizard’s third task in the hedge maze. While this is a cool idea, it has absolutely no place in a Harry Potter movie. In Rowling’s telling, the Triwizard champions are posed against mythical beasts that test the students’ wizarding ability (Harry’s fight with the Boggart) and their intelligence (Harry answering the Sphinx’s riddle). Instead, Newell made a few branches move suspiciously and blew some wind in the contestants’ faces; it’s a joke. Basically, if you’re going to change one of the most iconic scenes of a book, don’t copy an even more iconic scene from a famous film. But if you MUST change it, do it well. Otherwise, you’re embarrassing all of us.

The conversation between Harry and & Aunt Petunia in The Order of the Phoenix

In this scene, Harry attempts to explain what really happened between him and Dudley after dementors come to Little Whinging. Uncle Vernon doesn’t want to hear a word of it until Harry begins talking about Dementors. When he is about to describe what they do, Aunt Petunia answers for him (“they guard the wizard prison, Azkaban”). After the initial shock of her answer, Harry calmly begins talking about the Dementors and the rise of Lord Voldemort. In this moment, Harry appreciates that Aunt Petunia is related to him. She is the only one who truly understands what this means to both the wizarding and Muggle worlds. It brings dimension to her character and makes her seem a little less nasty than we all thought her to be.

Hermoine and Ron are prefects in Order of the Phoenix

This definitely adds fuel to the fire in the beginning of book five. Harry, who has been stranded with the Dursleys for a month, is finally rescued and brought to the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. Not only is he livid that he has heard absolutely no news about anything from anyone, but when he arrives, he soon finds out that Hermione and Ron were chosen to be prefects and not him. This jealousy continues to eat away at Harry throughout the year, making him extremely irritable and bitter towards the two of them. Much of the fifth book also stems from Harry’s inability to act on the problems around him, causing him to feel worthless and unable to find a direction. A big cause of this is Dumbledore’s refusal to speak to him and choice to leave him in the dark. It’s revealed later that Dumbledore was trying not to push unnecessary strain on Harry’s already-full mind. However, Harry views Dumbledore’s inattentiveness as evidence of his own limited ability and self-doubt. In the movie, Harry discusses feeling isolated, and this information in the movie would have only helped that theme.

The attack on the burrow Half Blood Prince

This is one of the most stupid scenes in the entire film series. First and foremost, IT DIDN’T HAPPEN IN THE BOOKS!

What really irks me about the scene is that it doesn’t even fit in with the rest of the plot. Directly after, the film jumps forward in time to when the characters are back at Hogwarts dealing with the same problems as the rest of the film: Ron’s relationship with Lavender Brown and Harry’s struggle to be close to Ginny. There’s never an explanation for the attack, nor does the film ever show its repercussions. It literally serves no purpose. Producer David Baron told The Herald Sun “This [scene] was brought in because even in what would normally be considered the safe haven of the Burrow, nobody’s safe.” Yes, that makes sense, but doesn’t this exact situation happen in The Deathly Hallows in the attack during Bill and Fleur’s wedding? And if you were going for more action, more bang for your buck, then why not include the battle scene after Dumbledore’s death? This is where Fenrir Greyback maims Bill Weasley and much more happens, but it’s somehow skipped over. I don’t get it.

The Voldemort taboo in The Deathly Hallows Pt. 1

Voldemort puts a trace on his name, as only those who are fighting against him are bold enough to say it. When someone says “Voldemort,” Death Eaters immediately apparate to that location to capture them. The movie merely alludes to this in the scene where Harry, Ron and Hermione are in the coffee shop in London. They say his name when two death eaters come to capture them. In the book, one of the characters slips up while they are camping, says Voldemort’s name and is snatched.

In the film, Harry, Ron and Hermione are captured when the Snatchers are waiting for them in The Forest of Dean. It’s not exactly explained how the Snatchers knew they were there, perhaps because they camped there previously or maybe it was just a hunch. Either way, explaining the taboo in the seventh film would have made it easier to understand how they were found and how the Death Eaters and Voldemort were finding people so quickly.

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