July 15, 2011

the end of an era

[The first portion of this post was written before I saw the film, by the way. The rest of the post will be after the fact.There will be book spoilers, but I feel no need to warn you of that. I will however make notice before film spoilers. Also, this is a really, really, REALLY long post. It took me the better part of three hours to write, so you might want to set aside some time to read all the way to the end if you are so inclined.]

I am writing this at 7:00 Thursday night. We'll be leaving for the theater in about twenty minutes, and I wanted to share a few things about the experience of Harry Potter over the last twelve years.

I'm excited. I'm really excited. This really is the end of an era for me. I've been in love with Harry Potter since I read The Sorcerer's Stone back in 1999. You can read about that experience here. Summation: Harry Potter awakened in me a love for fantasy and a love for reading. I learned life lessons from Harry Potter: to do the right thing, even though it's hard; to fight for what I believe in; to always look for the good in people; and to accept that sometimes things are out of my control.

I grew with Harry, and the summer of my eleventh year, I hoped with all my heart that Hogwarts was real, that I would get my acceptance letter and experience the real wizarding world. Though, in truth, I don't think anything could ever compare to the world that I have built in my head using Jo's words. Hogwarts is so real to me, even now, four years after the final book was released. The characters are so real. I felt their pain and their happiness. I loved them and hated them. I dreamed of roaming the halls of Hogwarts, of taking Transfiguration lessons and avoiding Filch after hours.

For me, the films have never been close to what the books are. I don't see Daniel Radcliffe when I think of Harry, nor Emma Watson with Hermione or Rupert Grint with Ron. I don't see Richard Harris or Michael Gambon when I think of Dumbledore, or Alan Rickman when I think of Snape. I see Hogwarts in a way completely different than in the movies.

When I first saw the movies, I loved them of course. They were another piece of the Harry Potter phenomenon. They were an excuse to live in the world of Harry Potter again. My office is decorated with Harry Potter posters and wall-stickers. I have seven Harry Potter shirts, all the books (including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Quidditch Through the Ages, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard), the Sorting Hat, a Hogwarts messenger bag, Harry Potter pins, and a Gryffindor winter hat... plus who knows what else.

The last twelve years have led to this point, and in just a few hours, it will be over(ish).

I do have a few concerns. I'm worried that the fight between Harry and Voldemort will be nothing like it is in the book. From what's in the trailers, they're physically fighting one another, which those of you that have read the books know doesn't happen. Harry never confronted Snape in the Great Hall, so I have a feeling that things will be a bit off around that part of the story. I'm also worried about how they're going to handle the diadem business, since they left that bit out of Half-Blood Prince. I am looking forward to the escape from Gringotts, the moment when McGonagall awakens the suits of armor, and Snape's memories.


You have been warned.

I was right to have concerns, and perhaps I should not have been so excited to see the movie. Nothing ever lives up to its hype. I also probably shouldn't have reread the book yesterday, but it's been a habit of mine since the first film. Why stop now? We arrived at the theater a little after 7:30. There were already about thirty people in the line for Theater 12--the theater for people who bought their tickets way in advance, for people who bought their tickets first. There were lines for all twelve theaters. This was mostly the theater's fault, but Theater 12 was the last to be seated. The people who bought tickets two weeks in advance had to wait until 11:00 to be seated, when Theater 10 was seated around 9:00. Why weren't we seated until then? Because they showed Transformers at 7:55, and that movie is nearly three hours long. Then, when the line finally begins moving, what happens? It ceases to be a line. We started with only 30 people in front of us. Somehow, that number quadruples. We get into the theater, and it's already over half full. We had to sprint for good seats.

Again, movie spoilers coming up. You have been warned again.

So, the movie was good. Don't get me wrong there. I cried. I laughed. My heart raced. However, it was disappointing. I believe that the movie could have been much better. It deviated from the book too much. I know that the films have deviated in the past, but at least most of those deviations made sense. Most of the changes in Deathly Hallows part two did not make sense. So, I'm going to do a chapter-by-chapter, scene-by-scene comparison of book to film. I'll do my best to stay chronologically correct to the film. It gets a bit muddled in places.

Chapter Twenty-Four: The Wandmaker
Harry buries Dobby at Shell Cottage. He speaks with Griphook and Ollivander while Voldemort moves for the Elder Wand. Harry asks for Griphook's help to break into Gringotts and asks Ollivander about wands, specifically the Elder Wand. Voldemort takes the wand from Dumbledore's tomb.

In the film, this chapter is executed awkwardly. The conversation with the Goblin is close to word for word, but the mood is strange. Same with the conversation with Ollivander. Maybe it's because they had to start a movie two-thirds of the way into a story. Personally, I think that the first movie should have ended when Ron killed the Horcrux locket. That way, there would have been proper buildup and structure for the second film. In the films, Voldemort already has the wand at this point. All of this is fine. Subtle changes like this don't bother me. 

Chapter Twenty-Five: Shell Cottage
Griphook agrees to help the trio break into Gringotts in exchange for the Sword of Gryffindor. Lupin arrives, announcing the birth of his son. 

In the film, the first bit is streamlined into the first conversation between Harry and Griphook, and Lupin never visits.

Chapter Twenty-Six: Gringotts
Hermione disguises herself as Bellatrix Lestrange, Ron as a foreign wizard, and Harry and Griphook hide beneath the Invisibility Cloak. They are intercepted in Diagon Alley by a Death Eater. Harry has to Imperius the Death Eater and a Goblin in order to get past the Gringotts entry hall. Their disguises are thwarted by The Thief's Downfall, a magical waterfall that washes away enchantment. The enter the Lestrange vault by shaking Clankers at the albino dragon. Treasure burns and multiplies. They find the Cup of Hufflepuff. Griphook steals back the Sword of Gryffindor. Harry, Ron, and Hermione escape the Gringotts caverns via the dragon's back.

In the film, this all happens just as it does in the book. The Death Eater Travers is non-existent, but Harry does Imperius the Goblin Bogrod. They lose their disguises after passing through the waterfall, and their cart drops them. One thing that I did like about this scene, is in the vault, the treasure multiplying around them (not burning), Griphook takes the Cup of Hufflepuff. When Harry demands it back, Griphook says something along the lines of "Cup or Sword?" I think that it was a nice addition. Then, the trio escapes.

Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Final Hiding Place
The dragon flies forever until it descends on a lake, where the trio dismounts. Harry sees Voldemort kill everyone present when he finds out the Cup was stolen from the Lestranges' vault and worries that Harry knows of the other Horcruxes. He plans to seek the others out to be sure. The trio Disapparates for Hogsmeade.

In the film, it all happens nearly the same, except Voldemort specifically thinks of Ravenclaw when he thinks of the Horcrux at Hogwarts. And the scene where he kills everyone is a bit confusing because it doesn't explain that at all. He just starts slashing his wand through the air and then walks among the dead bodies. Also, Voldemort kills Griphook, which I don't think happens in the book.

Chapter Twenty-Eight: The Missing Mirror
Harry, Ron, and Hermione arrive in Hogsmeade under the protection of the Invisibility Cloak. They set off the Caterwauling Charm, and the Death Eaters stationed in Hogsmeade send the Dementors after them. Harry produces a Patronus, and Aberforth of the Hog's Head lets him into the shop, covering for them. Aberforth shares a monologue about Albus after Harry tells him they have to get into Hogwarts. He opens the passageway between the Hog's Head and Hogwarts.

In the film, they arrive without the Invisibility Cloak. What happened to it in Gringotts, I'm not sure. The trio runs from Death Eaters and eventually finds their way to the Hog's Head. Aberforth lets them in, he tells them to scarper, and then he opens the passageway. He never talks about Albus.

Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Lost Diadem
Neville Longbottom comes through the passageway and leads the trio into Hogwarts. He explains Snape's regime over Hogwarts and update them on everything that's been going on at school. The passageway leads to the Room of Requirement, where all of our favorite Hogwarts students are reunited. Other members of Dumbledore's Army begin showing up as well as members from the Order of the Phoenix. Harry tells them that he needs to find an artifact of Ravenclaw's, and Luna (who arrived just now) tells him about the diadem. Harry and Luna head for Ravenclaw Tower to see what the diadem looks like, where a Death Eater is waiting for them. The Death Eater presses her Dark Mark tattoo.

In the film, everything up to the mention of the diadem is pretty much the same. However, people start showing up randomly, from all directions, rather than from the passageway between the Room and Hog's Head. That was a bit confusing. Harry and Luna do not go to Ravenclaw Tower.

Chapter Thirty: The Sacking of Severus Snape
Luna stuns the Death Eater in Ravenclaw Tower, and a second Death Eater arrives, knowing that his sister pressed the Dark Mark. Professor McGonagall arrives in the tower, the conscious Death Eater insults her by spitting at her. Harry pulls off the Invisibility Cloak and uses the Cruciatus Curse on the Death Eater. Harry warns McGonagall that Voldemort is headed for the school, and tells her that he must find the lost diadem. McGonagall summons the heads of houses and on their way to bolster the castle's defenses, they run into Professor Snape. McGonagall and Snape duel, and Snape escapes. McGonagall summons the suits of armor. Harry returns to the Room of Requirement where more Order members arrive, as well as Percy Weasley (which was a great scene). Ron and Hermione are missing, and Harry sees Voldemort arrive.

I am sad to say that in the film, the scene in Ravenclaw Tower never takes place. Harry never curses a Death Eater in defense of Professor McGonagall. The Death Eater does not summon Voldemort. Instead, Ginny arrives in the Room of Requirement, telling them all that Snape knows Harry is in Hogwarts. Harry puts on Gryffindor robes and goes to the Great Hall with a horde of Gryffindors, where Professor Snape tells them that he knows Harry Potter is in the castle and demands that they step forward if they know anything of his movements. Harry steps forward and confronts him about Dumbledore's death. Snape raises his wand against Harry, but Professor McGonagall steps forward and shields him. McGonagall and Snape duel, and Snape escapes. There is a tender moment when McGonagall tells Harry she is glad to see him, but it doesn't do justice to the scene originally written in the book. Harry heads toward Ravenclaw Tower, while Professor McGonagall and the rest of the staff prepare Hogwarts' defenses. The scene where the suits of armor drop down from the walls is bone-tingling.

Chapter Thirty-One: The Battle of Hogwarts
Professor McGonagall orders the evacuation of younger students and Voldemort speaks to the castle, telling them he knows their plan. Pansy Parkinson demands that they give Harry up, but the other houses stand up against her and the other Slytherins. Harry recalls that no one has seen the diadem in living memory, and he seeks out the Gray Lady. She reveals that she stole the diadem from her mother and hid it in Albania. She also reveals that Voldemort came to her asking for it when he was a student. Hagrid appears in the castle. Harry remembers the tiara that he placed upon the bust of the warlock atop the cabinet in the Room of Requirement in his sixth year. Ron and Hermione return from the Chamber of Secrets with a handful of basilisk fangs and the destroyed Cup. Harry returns to the Room of Requirement and tells those still inside to get out. Ron and Hermione kiss. They reenter the Room of Requirement, now full of junk. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle arrive in the room and duel Harry. Crabbe summons Fiendfyre, which soon burns through the Room of Requirement. They find some broomsticks, save Malfoy and Goyle from the fire, Harry finds the diadem, and they escape. Crabbe dies somewhere in there. The diadem explodes because of the damage from the Fiendfyre. Death Eaters are dueling Percy and Fred Weasley, and Fred dies.

In the film, Voldemort speaks to the castle before McGonagall summons the suits of armor. Pansy Parkinson demands that they give Harry up, and McGonagall orders the Slytherins to be kept in the dungeons. Harry heads for Ravenclaw Tower, but he is stopped by Luna, who tells him of the Gray Lady and her link to the diadem. Harry confronts the Gray Lady, and she tells him exactly where the diadem is kept. In the meantime, Ron and Hermione go to the Chamber of Secrets. Ron removes a basilisk fang from the basilisk skeleton, and Hermione kills the Cup. When she does, the Chamber swells with water, and after the watery assault, Ron and Hermione kiss. I liked the fact that they showed Ron and Hermione go to the Chamber of Secrets. It was neat seeing that set again. Harry enters the Room of Requirement, and Ron and Hermione find him using the Marauder's Map. Harry senses the Horcrux, and when he finds it, Malfoy, Goyle, and Blaise Zabini arrive (since Crabbe's actor faced drug charges). They cause the diadem to sail out of Harry's reach, and they begin dueling. A curse narrowly misses Hermione, and Ron goes chasing after the caster, saying "That's my girlfriend!" which I thought was cute. Hermione and Harry climb a stack of chairs going after the diadem. Goyle summons the Fiendfyre, and while trying to escape the flames, he falls into the fire and dies. Harry gets the diadem, they find a set of brooms (Hermione actually flies rather well), rescue Malfoy and Zabini, escape the Room, stab the diadem with a basilisk fang, and toss it back into the Fiendfyre. Malfoy flees.

Meanwhile, Voldemort leads the attack on the castle, and there is a particularly neat scene where Neville and Seamus destroy the covered bridge leading between one of the courtyards and the stone circle on the hill above Hagrid's Hut. 

Chapter Thirty-Two: The Elder Wand
They hide Fred's body in an alcove to keep it from harm, and Ron tells Harry to look into Voldemort's mind. Harry sees Voldemort in the Shrieking Shack with Lucius Malfoy, who reasons that Voldemort should end the attack (so that he can search for his son). Voldemort tells him to fetch Snape. Harry, Ron, and Hermione put on the Invisibility Cloak and escape the castle. Hagrid jumps into a horde of acromantulas. Giants are in the grounds as well as Dementors. Harry, Ron, and Hermione fail to produce Patronuses, and they are saved by Luna, Ernie MacMillan, and Seamus Finnigan. The trio travel the passage between the Whomping Willow and the Shrieking Shack, where Voldemort voices his concerns to Snape about why the Elder Wand is not working properly for him. Voldemort uses Nagini to kill Snape, and then he vanishes. Harry enters the Shrieking Shack and the dying Snape tells him to take the memories that leak from his wounds. Snape dies.

In the film, we never get to see the duel between Fred, Percy, and the Death Eaters. Once they are out of the Room of Requirement, Ron tells Harry to look into Voldemort's mind, and he sees him in the boat house with Lucius Malfoy. Malfoy leaves to find Snape. Harry, Ron, and Hermione leave the castle, dodging spells, Death Eaters, giants, and acromantulas. Dementors descend on the castle, but Aberforth summons a massive Patronus that sends them all away. The trio sneak to the boat house, where they hear Voldemort speak to Snape about the wand not working for him. Voldemort uses Sectumsempra to slit Snape's throat, and he orders Nagini to finish him. Harry and the others enter the boat house, and Harry tries staunching Snape's wounds, which I thought was amazing. Snape looks into Harry's eyes, and says "You have her eyes." He orders Harry to take his tears, which are his memories, and then he dies. I cried my effing eyes out. (I was already crying a bit, but man.) This is one scene that was much better than it was in the book.

Chapter Thirty-Three: The Prince's Tale
Voldemort speaks to the castle a second time, commanding his forces to retreat. He tells Harry to meet him in the Forbidden Forest or he will kill everyone. Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to the Great Hall, where they see all the dead: Fred, Lupin, and Tonks, plus many more. Harry goes to the Headmaster's Office and pours Snape's memories into the Pensieve. He sees Snape's memories of Lily: before they were old enough to go to Hogwarts and their close friendship at school; he sees Snape's conversations with Dumbledore after Lily and James' deaths. Harry learns that Dumbledore's death was planned between them and that Snape loved his mother. Dumbledore reveals that a final Horcrux lives inside of Harry and that Harry must die before Voldemort can truly be vanquished. Snape reveals his Patronus to Dumbledore as proof of his love for Lily. The memories also reveal the help that Snape has been secretly giving Harry.

In the film, this is when we first see Fred dead, as well as the others. Harry goes to the Headmaster's Office and views Snape's memories. They differ slightly. Instead of close friends, it shows that Snape more or less loved Lily from a distance. The scene where Snape reveals to Dumbledore that he shared the prophecy with Lord Voldemort was particularly well done. There is also an added scene where Snape enters the Potters' home in Godric's Hollow and cradles Lily's dead body. Snape shows Dumbledore his Patronus.

Chapter Thirty-Four: The Forest Again
Harry leaves the castle without talking to anyone. He appears to Neville and tells him that he must kill Voldemort's snake, Nagini. He enters the forest alone and opens the Snitch, revealing the Resurrection Stone. He uses it to bring his mother and father, Sirius, and Lupin back to him. He enters the forest clearing, drops the stone, and faced Voldemort. Hagrid is there, tied to a tree. Voldemort uses the Killing Curse against Harry.

In the film, Harry meets Ron and Hermione on the stairs and tells them that he himself is a Horcrux. Hermione reveals that she thought so for a long time. They hug and Harry leaves. He enters the Forest, uses the stone, faces Voldemort, and dies at Voldemort's hand.

Chapter Thirty-Five: King's Cross
Harry enters the in-between place, which he sees as King's Cross. There, he sees the strange remains of Voldemort's soul, in the shape of a mutilated child. In the station, he meets Albus Dumbledore, and Dumbledore tells him that he is not dead. They talk about why Harry isn't dead, how because Harry faced Voldemort willingly, Voldemort killed the remaining piece of his soul instead. He explains that Harry can't die because of the magic of his mother's protection in his blood, which Voldemort took in The Goblet of Fire. Dumbledore explains how their souls have been connected since the beginning. Dumbledore answers Harry's questions about the Deathly Hallows and recalled his search for them as a young boy. Dumbledore gives Harry the choice of going "on" or returning to life.

In the film, this particular scene was nearly identical to the book. The filmmakers portrayed everything perfectly, leaving out only the details about the Deathly Hallows and Dumbledore's search for them. I can't exactly remember if Dumbledore mentions that his blood in Voldemort's veins is what kept him alive, but I think that might not have been mentioned (and the lack thereof confused my husband, who hasn't read the books). They also added a line to Dumbledore's dialogue about the power of words, that I found particularly awesome.

Chapter Thirty-Seven: The Flaw in the Plan
Harry wakes up in the forest clearing, and Voldemort, also regaining consciousness, sends Narcissa Malfoy to check and see if Harry is dead. She feels his heartbeat and asks him if Draco is still alive. He tells her that he is, and Narcissa pronounces him dead. Voldemort forces Hagrid to carry Harry's body to the castle. Voldemort tells the castle that Harry was killed while running away and demands their surrender. When the part of Death Eaters, Voldemort, "dead" Harry, and Hagrid arrives at the castle, people scream in despair and verbally abuse Voldemort and his followers. Harry is placed at Voldemort's feet.  Voldemort forces them to be silent, but Neville stands up to him. Voldemort summons the Sorting Hat and places it on Neville's head. He then sets the hat on fire, and during Neville's torture, Grawp appears as well as a horde of centaurs. In the commotion, Harry pulls on his Invisibility Cloak. Neville draws the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat and lops Nagini's head off. Voldemort flees into the Great Hall, and Harry follows. The house-elves rise up and fight the Death Eaters in the Entrance Hall, and members of Dumbledore's Army and the Order of the Pheonix battle Death Eaters. Mrs. Weasley triumphantly comes to the defense of her daughter with the greatest line in the entire book series, and she kills Bellatrix. Harry reveals himself to Voldemort. They have a lengthy conversation about magic, wands, and why Voldemort should surrender. Harry reveals that the Elder Wand doesn't work for Voldemort because before Snape killed Dumbledore, Draco Malfoy disarmed Dumbledore, and later, Harry disarmed Draco, making Harry the true owner of the Elder Wand. When Voldemort attacks Harry with a Killing Curse, it rebounds because the Elder Wand would not betray its true master. Voldemort dies. Harry leaves the Great Hall and visits the Headmaster's Office again, where Dumbledore awaits him in his portrait behind the desk. Harry mends his own wand with the Elder Wand, and commits to return the Elder Wand to Dumbledore's grave.

In the film, everything happens the same way up until they arrive at the castle. In the meantime, Neville finds the Sorting Hat among the rubble and sees the glint of the Sword of Gryffindor within. The survivors enter the castle courtyard and see Hagrid holding dead Harry. Voldemort tells them that he will spare the lives of those that join him and the Death Eaters, and Draco's parents call him away from the other students. He hesitates at first, but then joins them. And then there is this really awkward moment where Voldemort hugs Draco. It was really weird. The Malfoys then flee. Neville steps forward, toting the Sorting Hat, and he tells everyone that Harry may be dead, that the others may be dead, but they live on in their hearts. He urges them to continue fighting. He draws the Sword of Gryffindor from the Sorting Hat and wields it against Voldemort. At that moment, Harry drops from Hagrid's arms and darts off. (No Invisibility Cloak. Just Harry running.) Voldemort casts spells after him and blasts Neville off his feet. The Death Eaters and the remaining Hogwartians commence battle, and Harry runs into the castle. While Harry searches for Nagini, Voldemort chases after him, and at the same time, Ron and Hermione search for the snake to kill it. Voldemort and Harry duel, mostly Voldemort slinging Killing Curses and Harry performing Shielding Charms. They start punching and grappling with one another, and whatnot. After a weird mid-flight grapple, they end in the courtyard, where they crawl toward their wands. While they continue their wand battle, Ron and Hermione are on the run from Nagini, when Neville appears and slices its head off. With the death of Nagini, Voldemort weakens and Harry finishes him off with a Disarming Spell. Voldemort disperses into ash. After visiting everyone in the Great Hall, Harry, Ron, and Hermione go to one of the bridges leading out of Hogwarts. Harry explains that Voldemort ended himself when he tried killing Harry with the Elder Wand, because the wand belonged to Harry. He then snaps it in half and throws it over the edge of the bridge.

Harry and Ginny take their kids to King's Cross, where James and Albus board the Hogwarts Express. There, they meet Ron and Hermione and their kids. Albus voices his concern that he does not want to end up in Slytherin, and Harry tells him that he was named after a great Slytherin, and that he can choose which house he would like to end up in if it truly matters that much.

In the film, the Epilogue is spot on exact to the book. Though the characters did not look nineteen years older, if they looked older at all. They changed their hairlines and made them wear grown-up clothes, but they looked pretty much the same.

So there you have it. The book versus the film. My biggest issues were the changes they made to the scene with the Gray Lady, the scene where Neville kills the snake, the battle between Harry and Voldemort, and the final scene with the Elder Wand. I don't see the necessity of their changes. I believe that reading the book before watching the movie probably ruined my first impression of it. It was a great movie, but as I said, I think that these changes were not for the better. The subtle changes--the setting for Snape's death, the lack of Invisibilty Cloak, etc--don't bother me. However, especially for Neville's scene and the battle between Harry and Voldemort, I think that the original way they were written is far better than how the scenes were executed in the film. Some people may disagree with me. But, especially with the battle scene, it makes zero sense in context. If Harry owned the Elder Wand, then Voldemort should have not have been able to use it against Harry.

Take it as you will.

Have you seen the film yet? Did you have any problems with it, or am I just nit-picky?

And have a great weekend!


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  2. I think my issue was that I went into the theater thinking I would see my movie, the movie to end all movies. And when it didn't deliver that, I was disappointed. After time away from it, and after writing this blog post, I realize that maybe I was aggravated for nothing. It was a great movie. But... I still think that it could have been better. It probably could have been word for word to the book and I still would have been disappointed... ;)

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  4. I was a little disappointed that Moldevort's death scene was so different than the book.

    Not showing Voldemort's frustration and impotence at not being able to harm anyone due to Harry's sacrifice lessened my enthusiasm a bit.

    I still loved it & we'll see it again.


  5. Thank you for doing the chapter vs scene analysis which i found really great - I jst watched the movie tonight and came out of it somewhat disappointed. But unsure why. REading through your analysis helped to narrow it down for me ( esp since i didnt re-read the book this week!) For me i think - it wouldnt have mattered if they made the most amazing movie in the history of film, I still would have been disappointed. Because its the end. And because no movie can possibly match my experience of reading this series.

  6. Thanks Lani! I agree. It could have been the best movie ever made, and I probably still would have been disappointed. ;)