Wednesday, July 27, 2016

When Hollywood Gets It Wrong, part 1

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 PosterWarning: Major Harry Potter spoilers ahead.

I’m a book person. And like most book people, I tend to prefer the book to the movie. Despite this, I try to give movie adaptations the benefit of the doubt. Or, more accurately, I expect to like the movie less, and I just accept that. It doesn’t matter if the actors don’t look the way I imagined the characters. It doesn’t matter if they left out my favorite little side scene. Sure, I really wanted to see sparklers spelling out “POO” in the fifth Harry Potter film, and I was thrilled when the extended Lord of the Rings had my favorite scene with Eowyn and Faramir. But in the grand scheme of things, these events don’t really affect the meaning of the story.**

However, there are times when Hollywood really messes up. When they completely fail (in my not so humble opinion, of course) in ways so epic that I just want to kick them in the shins.* These are the times that try women’s souls. And these are the times that require a rant. So, let the ranting begin . . . with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!

Okay, I know the producers had a major challenge: shoving a bazillion pages into two movies. But. BUT. What is the core conflict of this book? Sure, the obvious one is Harry versus Voldemort. But I don’t think that’s it. I think the core conflict is hallows versus horcruxes—power versus responsibility and sacrifice. It’s Harry versus the natural man’s lust for control. The book portrays Harry struggling with which things he should chase. This is a real challenge for him. It seems so logical that the battle should be about who has the most power and control—thus he should seek out the hallows. But in reality, the battle is about self-control—making the hard decisions even when you don’t like it. It’s about being the kind of person who can find and destroy the horcruxes.

This entire struggle is completely lost in the movie. Heck, it isn’t even clear from just the movie that Harry had actually owned the invisibility cloak (not just an invisibility cloak). The only inkling we get of the struggle to decide between horcruxes and hallows is in the very end when Harry contemplates the Elder Wand for about three seconds before breaking it and chucking it off a cliff.

Maybe I’m getting a little overheated about this, but I think there is a powerful message to the horcrux/hallows struggle that really gets lost in translation. It’s about how we beat the evil in the world. Is it by gathering more power so that we can crush the evil?*** Or is it by choosing difficult, yet quieter, roads (and yes, I recognize that destroying the horcruxes was in no way “quiet”; I’m talking metaphorically here)? Destroying the horcruxes was a task that almost wouldn’t get you noticed (think of RAB, who stole one, though nobody knew he’d done this huge thing). Gathering the hallows would make you impossible to ignore. And yet, in the end, when you possess the hallows, they destroy you, no matter how enticing they are at first. This is about real life, people, and it’s a nuance totally lost in the movie adaptation.

Sigh. Hollywood should really consult me before doing such foolish things.*** (By the way, despite my frustration over this particular aspect of the movie—which is, do not forget, still a major mistake—I did enjoy the movie overall. So don’t start sending me hate mail.)

Stay tuned next fortnight when I rant about the movie adaptation of the Broadway play Into the Woods! There will be fun, there will be laughter, there will be witty rhyming lyrics and shirtless princes!****

* Yes, I realize that’s a pretty pathetic response, but I’m sort of a pacifist, so that’s pretty high conflict for me.
** I would argue that my other favorite LofR scene, the scouring of the Shire, does in fact affect the story’s meaning, but that’s another subject entirely.
*** I can’t help but think there’s a lesson in here for the upcoming elections, but I’m not going to try to suggest to you what it might be.
**** Don’t worry, I will not be so foolish as to complain about the shirtless princes.


  1. I only read the first few paragraphs and I skipped the rest because I'm just reading the HP series for the first time this summer- but I've seen all the movies.

    I just finished #3, so once I'm done with the rest I'll come back and read this. :-)

  2. Hallows vs. Horcruxes: maybe not "quieter", but one was more personally enriching (ie, I get power and then I use it for good) and one was much more "in the trenches" and selfless (I find an destroy horcruxes, which may destroy me and no one will know what I did; I get left with less power in the end). Which is back to our struggle in real life. Do we just seek to do good, and accept what comes with it, good or bad? Or do we seek for power, and assume that once we get it, we'll do good with it?



Related Posts with Thumbnails