This is the first of two blogs dedicated to my qualms with the Harry Potter films, where I’ll be discussing, in depth, the portions of the books that should have been included. I understand that translating books to movies is complicated, and not everything can be included. But that’s not an excuse for the movies to completely disregard the reasons the books are so incredible. Because of what they left out, these movies fell flat of the excellence of the books, and that’s not acceptable. This post will be dedicated to the movies previous to the final 2 Deathly Hallows installments, and the next will be, obviously, entirely about the last two movies.
The Hogwart’s Kitchen
In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (the book), there’s at least two chapters entirely devoted to Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s forays to the Hogwart’s kitchen, where they meet the dutiful Hogwarts house elves. Hermione starts her anti-house-elf-enslavement campaign, and Ron and Harry enjoy getting free food. It’s a fun, brief portion of the book that becomes completely important in the final movie (which I’ll discuss in the next blog). This defines Hermione’s character as the protector of the small, if you will, and sets up her difference from Ron, the comfortable, slightly racist wizard-born. It wouldn’t have taken long to include this little bit in the movie, and could have been revisited in each subsequent film the way it was in the books- in passing.
Probably one of my favorite Harry Potter universe conflicts, Percy Weasley’s betrayal of his family was an incredibly important element of the Weasley family. In fact, he a relatively important character in the earlier movies, before the writers apparently forgot about him. And again, it wouldn’t have taken very long to include it, and revisit it occasionally to remind viewers it’s still going on. Percy’s behavior was typical of wizards during the dangerous climate of Voldemort’s return, and it really highlights the pureness of the rest of the Weasley family as a result. And his unfair treatment of his family makes his return to them in the battle of Hogwarts all the more emotional and meaningful. It gives Fred’s death (which, again, I’ll discuss in the next blog) significance and even more heartbreak.
Ginny’s Trail of Men
This small subplot is much less important in the larger scope of the great failure that was the Harry Potter films, but it’s still worth mentioning. Ginny begins dating, I believe, in the fourth book, and although it’s not touched on much, the point is that it’s supposed to build from there. In the films, Ginny appears for the Chamber of Secrets, disappears for three movies, then starts dating Dean Thomas in the 6th movie and all of the sudden Harry is totally in love with her. Their love story was very poorly executed, because it seemed so random and out of the blue. They became friends first, then she branched out with other guys, which Harry starts noticing more and more as the books continue, and then finally they become an item. In the books, it makes sense. It’s not just convenient as it seemed on the screen.
The Doomed Romance of Tonks and Lupin
Yet another important plot point glazed over by the screenwriters. The Tonks/Lupin romance was built up for three books before they were heroically killed in the battle at Hogwarts. It was one of the most touching relationships of the Harry Potter series, because they were so logically wrong for one another. Lupin’s fears of transferring his ailment to his children or hurting Tonks on accident during his phases were some of the most heartbreaking conversations in the books. The fact that Tonks said “to hell with that” and Lupin eventually gave in was the triumph of love Rowling centered her entire series around. In addition, Lupin has got to be the most inappropriately underused character in all of the films. In the books he’s a father figure to Harry, one of many, but one of the most important, especially after Sirius dies. He’s one of the people Harry brings back with the Resurrection Stone, for God’s sake. But in the movies he’s just the weird ex-teacher with the gross mustache that sometimes turns into a werewolf.
Just as a side note…. what is it with the movie producers and creepy mustaches? Because both Lupin and Sirius had them, and it was very strange. Did mustaches come back into style? Not that I was aware of.