“Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
When Albus Dumbledore said these words in the Prisoner of Azkaban, he was referring to the dementors that had surrounded Hogwarts and reminding the young students that even in the darkest of days, there was always be a silver lining. While Potterheads have found this to be one of the most comforting quotes from the Harry Potter series, there was no better time than 2021 to reflect on these words. As the world battled the second year of a deadly pandemic, the Harry Potter series turned out to be the cozy escape from the world. There was no better surprise for the fans than to get a reunion with the original cast on the 20th anniversary of the first film.
The Harry Potter movies are one of the best-known book-to-movie adaptations but true Potterheads know that even though the films have filled them with joy and sorrow, there were some moments that weren’t as aptly translated and some that were completely skipped in trying to make Hollywood blockbusters. Dumbledore yelling, “Did you put your name into the Goblet of Fire, Harry?” is the stuff of legends now but book readers will know that this doesn’t even scratch the surface of how movies skipped significant plot points that affected character arcs. At times, they did not even make much sense to those who were just watching the movies, without reading the books.
Destiny of the Elder Wand
Ever since Harry’s first visit to Ollivanders, we knew that Harry had a special relationship with his wand. While each wand has a special relationship with its wizard/witch, the Elder Wand was different. The Elder Wand belongs to the person who last disarmed its owner. By the last book, we learnt that the wand’s allegiance had gone from Dumbledore to Draco to now, Harry. After defeating Voldemort, Harry, who had been the true master of the wand, repaired his original wand and buried the Elder Wand in Dumbledore’s grave, giving the most powerful wand in the world a proper send-off. In the movie, however, Harry just snapped the wand in half and threw it away in the lake, which was hardly the apt send-off for a wand with such a vast history. It also felt quite illogical as to why would Harry throw away the Elder Wand without repairing his own wand.
The treatment of the Elder Wand also affected how Voldemort’s death was portrayed
The last movie, Deathly Hallows Part 2 drew a lot of criticism from Potterheads as despite making two movies out of the last book, the makers chose to twist a lot of details that worked pretty well in the books. In the movie, Voldemort dies after duelling with Harry but simultaneously Neville Longbottom also kills Nagini, which weakens Voldemort. And while it was a nice touch to include Neville here (as the films completely skipped the storyline where he could have been the chosen one), it did not create the same impact. In the book, Voldemort tries to kill Harry but since the wand’s true allegiance is with Harry, the spell backfires and Voldemort dies. Even the visual of Voldemort dying appeared a little too dramatic as his death in the book felt a little more satisfying.
Talking about Neville, the movies skipped his entire story
Neville Longbottom could have been the boy who lived, the boy who saved the wizarding world, and the one who defeats Voldemort, if he was the one who was attacked by the Dark Lord as a baby. Sybill Trelawney’s prophecy spoke of a child who could defeat Voldemort and the clues that were given in the prophecy were valid for both – Harry and Neville. The prophecy said “either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives” and Voldemort interpreted it to be Harry but book readers know that Neville could have been the ‘chosen one’. By trying to kill Harry, Voldemort made him the ‘chosen one’. The movies completely skipped over Longbottom’s story that made him special and hence, the only heroic thing that he did here was killing Nagini. Even his parents’ story was largely skipped from the movies including their stay at St Mungo’s Hospital. Harry’s parents’ story was an integral part of the series but despite paying close attention to that, the makers skipped important points.
The omission of the story of Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs
In the third film/book, the Marauder’s map makes an appearance as Fred and George hand it over to Harry, seeing that he needs it much more than they do. And while Harry is caught with it by Lupin, no one ever explains in the movie that the map was in fact created by Harry’s father and his three best friends – Remus Lupin, Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew. Even their names – Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs – are never really discussed in the film which was quite a significant plot point. It was especially significant because Harry’s patronus was a deer, much like his father and this is the patronus that saved him from the dementors.
The two-way mirror mystery that was skipped in Order of Phoenix but came across as a giant oversight in Deathly Hallows
Sirius Black gave Harry Potter a unique gift in the fifth book – a two way mirror, using which Harry could speak to Sirius whenever he wanted. The mirror would have come in handy at the end of this book had Harry remembered to use it. His regret over not using the mirror and thus losing Sirius Black was one of the most significant emotional blows to his entire character arc. In the movie, however, this chapter was completely skipped, probably with the thought that this wasn’t significant enough. By the time Deathly Hallows (the book) came out, we knew that the mirror had a bigger purpose. The mirror appeared several times in the last two movies but the moviegoers had no idea where it came from or what it was used for. Harry’s eventual meeting with Aberforth was only possible because of the two-way mirror but by this time, it was too late to explain the existence of this mirror in the movies.
Another major blunder for the movies was the explanation of Snape’s identity as the half-blood Prince
The Half-Blood Prince movie skimmed over all the details of Voldemort’s childhood, his parents, among many other details but skipping over the story of why the film is titled Half-Blood Prince seemed pretty careless on the makers’ part. In the movie, Harry has been acing his potions class and learning some powerful new spells because of an old book that he found. He finds out that Snape is the owner, the ‘half-blood Prince’, after Dumbledore dies. And when he finds it out, he gives a fairly plain reaction, but that’s it! The movie viewers never really learn why he s called the ‘half-blood prince’ in the first place. You see, Snape’s father was a muggle, making him a half-blood wizard, like Voldemort and Harry, and his mother’s maiden name was Prince, thus making him the ‘half-blood Prince’. The book explores the identity of Voldemort being a half-blood wizard himself so it all ties nicely together but all of this was just skipped in the movie.
Of course, the movies can’t include every single detail that was provided in the books and which is probably why we never saw the story behind Rita Skeeter being the clever reporter she is. We never had the privilege of seeing Peeves, who sounds like a hoot if Fred and George are to be believed. We never really heard much about Percy Weasley’s separation from his family, and his eventual return during the Battle of Hogwarts. We never even saw Hermione’s passion for saving house-elves and the formation of S.P.E.W, which actually got her and Ron together for the first time.
While the movie and book fans have quarrelled for years over the many details, the reunion seems like the perfect opportunity to bury the hatchet as there could be no better gift for the New Year than this.