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I Solemnly Swear I am Up to Good Details…for the “Harry Potter” Movies

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 topic, though.

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.

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We’re Off to Start the Critique… The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (R-rated YouTube Parody vs. 1939 film)

Warning: contains spoilers of both versions***

 

While browsing through YouTube, I came across something called “R-rated Wizard of Oz”. It is an animated parody of the 1939 movie. There, Dorothy is fierce, tough, and slays threats.

I will not put a link here for copyright reasons. However, you can go to YouTube and search for “R-rated Wizard of Oz”. Then you can watch it.

What I discovered about that version was that I liked the tough and fierce Dorothy more than in the actual film from 1939. The slaying might have been a little much, though. However, after seeing the parody, it made me find the 1939 movie-Dorothy a lot less likable.

Now I am not trying to put down the character or act overly feminist (since feminism is not one of my specialized topics for my blog posts), but I will admit that now I find the 1939 film version of Dorothy too whiny and closer to being a damsel-in-distress.

Yes, it was the 1930’s, when standards for females differed from today, and whininess and damsels-in-distress were accepted, and possibly expected. However, growing up in a time where females want equality and to prove they are not weak or dependent on males, I am among many others who frown upon female characters as whiny damsels-in-distress. Today’s standards of female characters being fierce, strong, brave, and not very whiny, would have been shocking and maybe against standards in the 1930’s. “The Wizard of Oz” was a huge success and remains a popular classic today. However, if it had come out today, or if Dorothy were fierce and tough in the movie back in 1939, would either one have been a flop? Would “The Wizard of Oz” not have become a big classic today? Would people today have complained about Dorothy being too whiny and damsel-in-distress like, therefore, not liking her as a character?

In the film, Dorothy kept whining about wanting to go home and would cry if she didn’t get what she wanted in Oz, such as when the Wizard refused to see her. In the scene where the wicked witch locks her in a room after Toto escapes, Dorothy just sits and cries. Rather than trying to figure out a way to escape by herself, she waits for the other three (male) companions to rescue her. Dorothy was rarely angry without whining or crying.

In the R-rated parody, Dorothy is somewhat dark, but tough, fierce, and brave. She showed less fear when defeating the wicked witch at the end as well as when she overthrew the flying monkeys. While the killing was not as necessary, the clip demonstrates what is expected for females in any creative work today, regardless of setting.

I liked “The Wizard of Oz” when I was a child. But if there is ever a remake (not counting the Muppets version from the mid-2000’s), I think updating Dorothy’s character to being fiercer and less whiny would make both the character and the adaptation more successful.