Unlike many fans, I found the “Harry
Potter” films better than the books. I often have either liked the changes or
cuts better in the movies, or, at least, didn’t mind them.
There is another post that
includes content in the novels. But this post will only focus on the film
franchise. It will include details that I noticed in the movies.
1: In “Chamber of Secrets”, there were
mostly younger kids as extras
Did anyone else notice that most
scenes with Hogwarts student extras had few to no older students (like 5th
year and up)? Most looked like 1st and 2nd years, maybe a
few 3rd and 4th years. Did the filmmakers have a different
vision in mind that maybe most of the older students in the previous movie, “The
Sorcerer’s Stone”, were 7th years and there were a lot more 1st
years in “The Chamber of Secrets”? If so, that’s surprising (and probably not
accurate), especially since they broke child labor laws at least once. In film,
anyone under 18 has a mandatory limit of 4 hours on a film set. That’s why many
times, teen characters are played by adults in their 20s, sometimes even 30’s
(which I think is way too old), but rarely actual teenagers. That’s a different
2: From “Prisoner of Azkaban” and
on, the students have new uniforms, wear street clothes more often, and the
Hogwarts campus looks totally different
Unlike the previous observation
above, this reason has been revealed. The scenery looks different, because the
filming location was changed from Scotland to New Zealand. I believe it was
because they wanted a more fantastic-looking environment. Students are often
shown in street clothes when they’re not in classes, because the director
wanted to make the kids show more of their personalities instead of just
wearing robes the whole time. Speaking of which, the reason the uniform look
changed was never explained—I don’t think so.
3: Characters control their
emotions far more than in the books
Many people dislike this. In “Order
of the Phoenix”, when Harry is talking to Dumbledore shortly after Sirius’s
death scene, he is calm in the movie while he is angry and out of control in
the book. Most people were disappointed by that and liked his extreme rage in
the novel. I, however, thought the film’s portrayal was completely fine. In
fact, I’ve always found the characters being calmer in the films than in the
books a lot better (no offense, just my personal opinion). I don’t know why. Maybe
I feel it makes them stronger?
4: Speaking of controlling
emotions, Hagrid and Sirius are calmer in the films than in the books
Well, maybe not Sirius in “Prisoner
of Azkaban”, but definitely in “Order of the Phoenix”. I already say why in my
other “Harry Potter” post that focused on a lot of the books. If I had thought
of this then, I would’ve said that I like movie Hagrid better than book Hagrid.
I understand book Ginny being better than movie Ginny if she’s better developed
in the novels, but movie Hagrid is far more likable to me than book Hagrid.
Why? Because he controls his anger and emotions a lot more in the film
franchise. I saw the first four movies before I read the books. I noticed that
Hagrid had explosive tempers a lot in the novels, and it didn’t please me. I was
often glad when those extreme anger outbursts were cut out of the movies or
changed to much calmer episodes. Yes, it’s a significant trait for giants and
half-giants. But I’ve always preferred calmer, patient people more. Not just in
fiction, but also in real life. Movie Hagrid was closer to my envision. Hagrid
may be friendly in the novels, but it’s more emphasized in the movies.
5: Music classes at Hogwarts exist
in the movies
Fans constantly point out the lack
of core education classes at Hogwarts, such as math, English, science, and
social studies. Even though the film franchise doesn’t include liberal arts courses,
they do have music classes, such as choir, like that scene in “Prisoner of Azkaban”
where the school chorus performs in the great hall, or in “Order of the Phoenix”,
where Flitwick is having them rehearse their voices, and in “Half-Blood Prince”,
where Flitwick mentions having to teach choir practice. There is also an
orchestra in “Goblet of Fire” in the Yule Ball scene and a band playing at the third
task in the same movie. I don’t remember any music courses in the novels. But I’m
pretty sure there weren’t any.
6: The actors playing Lily and
James Potter were much older than their characters
Yet, the crew did not bother to
make the characters older in the movies. The actress who played Lily was in her
30’s when they filmed the first movie. The actor who played James was in his 40’s
when they filmed the first installment. J.K. Rowling was actually offered the
part of Lily, but I think she turned it down. That being said, she could’ve
told them that they were only 21 when they died. Unless she wasn’t allowed to,
or she forgot, and when she finally remembered, it was too late. Clearly, the
casting person had a very different vision of Lily and James. They probably
pictured them much older. Once the 7th book was released, readers
discovered that Lily and James were much younger than how the films portrayed
them. In fact, it’s apparently still a common misconception that they died in
their 30’s. The filmmakers had every right to make those characters at least 10
years older than in the books, even if J.K. Rowling demanded that they didn’t.
Authors usually don’t get to have any creative control over their book’s
film adaptations. J.K. Rowling was one of the few exceptions and it was only
because she was an incredibly big-name author.
Anyway, the filmmakers could’ve
cast younger actors from the start or when they found out Lily and James’s real
ages (which probably wouldn’t have been an option, though), or put youthful
makeup on them to look younger, or—just simply made them older in the movies.
Nothing would have been messed up as a lot of elements were already cut and
changed. Plus, it is common for characters to be made older in the films than
in their original sources. This happened with Disney’s “Pocahontas” (and many
other adaptations of the same person), 2002’s “Tuck Everlasting”, “The Crucible”,
“Percy Jackson” movies, and “The Giver”. The crewmembers probably thought the
movies would succeed more and have wider appeals if the main characters were made
older than in their original books. Oh well.
So, those are all the observations
I had for the “Harry Potter” movies.