Harry Potter is the best story of our generation. I have been a fan since I was 7 years old, and my Mum read the first book to me. My obsession with the story only grew as the books came out; the excitement of queueing up at midnight outside bookshops to get my hands on the newest book; the excitement extending to the big screen to be re-lived once again. I am a fan of the books, and I am a fan of the films; but there are some things that the films got so wrong. Most of the films I can continue to enjoy, but some things are so vital to the storyline, that it’s like watching a film and completely skipping out several scenes. It’s only showing half of the story.
1. Dudley’s farewell
I found this part so emotional, even though the amount of emotion in the exchange between Harry and Dudley would only fit into a teaspoon…but it’s a teaspoon more than they had ever shared. That’s what makes it such an amazing farewell.
[Harry:] ‘They think I’m a waste of space, actually, but I’m used to -’
[Dudley:] ‘I don’t think you’re a waste of space.’
Then Dudley held out his large, pink hand.
‘Blimey, Dudley,’ said Harry, ‘did the Dementors blow a different personality into you?’
‘Dunno,’ muttered Dudley. ‘See you, Harry.’
‘Yeah…’ said Harry, taking Dudley’s hand and shaking it. ‘Maybe. Take care, Big D.’
Dudley nearly smiled, then lumbered from the room.
It just gives Dudley his final moment. They finally have something which closely resembles a conversation; he has noticed that Harry is just another kid, who was dealt a bad hand; and that he might, actually, miss having him around. It’s especially touching when Harry recollects the cold cup of tea left outside his room earlier that day, and realises it must have been from his cousin. That is the cutest thing. Like, ever.
2. Harry watching Dumbledore’s death
This is absolutely top of my list when I think of gripes with the films. Let’s just remind ourselves of who Harry Potter is. He is a loyal, brave young wizard, who has always followed his instincts, and done what he thinks is right, no matter what. So, why – WHY? – did the filmmakers decide it was a good idea for him to stand by and idly watch as Snape killed Dumbledore?! He would never have done that.
In the book, when Harry and Dumbledore arrive back and they realise the Death Eaters were approaching, the last thing Dumbledore did before Malfoy appeared, was throw the Invisibility cloak over Harry and put a freezing charm on him. Because of this, Harry is right there in the room when the Death Eaters enter, and he is inevitably present for his role model’s death.
‘A jet of green light shot from the end of Snape’s wand and hit Dumbledore squarely in the chest. Harry’s scream of horror never left him; silent and unmoving, he was forced to watch as Dumbledore was blasted into the air…’
It is so painfully sad, but having to watch without any control is how it had to happen. Having Snape sneak up, hold a finger to his lips and “shhh” Harry, who is gawping at the whole thing like he’s watching an episode of Eastenders… it’s just so, so wrong.
3. Neville’s story
If you haven’t read the books, but have seen the films, you have missed out on all of Neville Longbottom’s story. You might scoff, and say, ‘So? He only killed the snake.’ To those people, I say, you have no idea how amazing it is that he killed the snake, or why he was the perfect wizard for the job.
Remember the prophecy back in Order of the Pheonix? If you’ve only watched the films then no, you probably don’t really… well here are the parts which are especially interesting:
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches…born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies…and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not…
Interestingly, Neville was also born on the 31st of July. Neville’s parents were also part of the Order, which means they, like Harry’s parents, defied the Dark Lord many times… much more than ‘thrice’.
It was all chance. Voldemort chose Harry that night, and marked him as his equal (although he obviously meant to kill him…), when he could just as easily have gone for Neville. The whole story could have been about Neville Longbottom, the Boy who Lived… but it wasn’t. The films also left out that Bellatrix Lestrange used the Cruciatus Curse to torture Neville’s parents, and they spent the rest of their days in St. Mungo’s (a wizarding hospital). That’s why his grandmother is his guardian.
It’s therefore the greatest outcome that Neville kills Nagini, and essentially helps to end the entire battle. The boy who was almost the Chosen One, saved the day and became the hero. It makes him one of my favourite characters in the whole story.
4. House of Gaunt
The House of Gaunt was the creepiest part of the story to read. It was the best memory Dumbledore and Harry saw in the Pensieve, and perhaps the most important as they saw the story of Tom Riddle’s parents. And what a tragic little tale it is!
Gaunt, the father (and Voldemort’s grandfather) is a nasty piece of work, living in a house with his equally disgusting son, Morfin, who attacks innocent Muggles for fun. We learn that Gaunt is a descendant of Salazar Slytherin, as he brandishes the Slytherin ring about with pride. There is a daughter called Merope, who is basically their slave. We find out that poor Merope has a secret crush on a Muggle boy who goes past the house. Morfin finds out, and outs her to their father.
‘Is it true?’ said Gaunt in a deadly voice, advancing a step or two towards the terrified girl. ‘My daughter – pure-blooded descendant of Salazar Slytherin – hankering after a filthy, dirt-veined Muggle?’
Dumbledore later explains to Harry that they saw Tom Riddle Senior, the Muggle, and Voldemort’s mother, Merope. Dumbledore explains that since then, Morfin and Gaunt were taken away by the Ministry, leaving Merope to her own devices. She made a love potion for Tom Riddle Senior, leading to marriage and her pregnancy. Then it all went downhill.
‘…I believe that Merope, who was deeply in love with her husband, could not bear to continue enslaving him by magical means. I believe that she made the choice to stop giving him the potion. Perhaps, besotted as she was, she had convinced herself that he would by now have fallen in love with her in return. Perhaps she thought he would stay for the baby’s sake. If so, she was wrong on both counts. He left her, never saw her again, and never troubled to discover what became of his son.’
Then she died, and Tom Riddle was an orphan, as we all know. All of this would have translated so well to the cinema screen: the Muggle boy going past on a cart; the dark squalor they lived in; the snake nailed to the front door. Maybe it was too creepy, but as Dumbledore said many times, knowing Tom Riddle’s past was necessary to defeat him. Plus, it’s a brilliantly tragic story, showing weakness within his family, and showing that he himself is not a pure-blood. Hypocrite much?
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