While I was excited as anybody about the showing of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part 1, for me and perhaps the millions of others who grew up with the boy who lived, there was a little sadness as well. I finished the final book of the Harry Potter series years ago (in one night!) and there was sadness in reading those final pages, too. There’s always some grief when something wondrous and beautiful ends, and the biggest movie franchise in history is no exception.
Thank goodness the decided to split the last book of the J.K. Rowling series into two movies. Cramming the 759 pages into 3 hours would not only have been a mistake from a moneymaking storytelling point of view, it would also have been a disservice to the loyal readers who have been with Harry, Ron and Hermione every step and spell of the way. With two movies for the last book, fans get to prepare for themselves for the end and to say a long goodbye.
I don’t envy the writers of the screenplay for the last two movies. It must be nerve-wracking to decide which parts get to stay and which parts to cut out of the book, knowing full well that you won’t be able to please all the millions of fans, some of whom probably memorize the Sorting Hat’s song from The Sorcerer’s Stone. As if that wasn’t hard enough, there was also the question of adding scenes that weren’t in the book. All in all, I think the writers did a brilliant job in their choices and I totally understand why they made them (doesn’t really add to the story, run time limitations, etc.). But I still can’t help but wish for the inclusion of a few subplots/scenes from the book:
Dudley’s goodbye: We haven’t seen the Dursleys since The Order of the Phoenix and since their final book appearance should have been at the start of the first movie, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see them again. Although I know that that scene is of zero plot value, it still would’ve been nice to see Dudley’s apparent concern for Harry when he, Vernon and Petunia were leaving to go into hiding. Wouldn’t it have been worth the additional 2-3 minutes to hear Dudley say this line: “I don’t think you’re a waste of space”?
The story of RAB: In hindsight, this subplot is not really essential to the story of the Horcruxes. That doesn’t make it any less compelling. Regulus Arcturus Black was the one who took the real locket Horcrux from that secluded cave. Not without the help of Kreacher, of course. Their story, dispensable as it was, was incredibly sad, brave and touching and was also the twist no one saw coming. There was a brief mention of it in the movie, but not enough, in my opinion, to give Regulus and Kreacher the full credit they were due.
Harry and Ginny’s kiss: Yes, this was in the book and in the movie. But I didn’t quite like how it came about in the movie. Really, Ginny? In a house with your mother, Fleur and Hermione, not to mention your gaggle of brothers, you couldn’t find someone else to zip up your dress? And, she’s sixteen! If she were my daughter, I’d slap her silly. Then again, I don’t live in constant fear of Voldemort apparating on my doorstep (plus,she was planning a wedding!), so I guess Mrs. Weasley has more important things to think about than her daughter traipsing around the house un-fully dressed.
When Hermione says “Ron”: I don’t really NEED this in the movie, but I would’ve appreciated if they actually showed Hermione saying Ron’s name which he heard in Deluminator. It would’ve taken, what, five seconds? It would’ve saved me the head-scratching and the text messages sent to other Harry Potter fans, asking them in what scene Hermione actually did this. It just… stressed me out. Really.
Spoiler alert: if you have never read the book and don’t intend to find out what is going to happen in the second movie, then do not read past this warning.
Lupin vs. Harry: Again, in the grand scheme of things, this particular subplot wasn’t a critical loss to the Harry vs. Voldemort story. But I think it’s these little sub-plots that make the story more human and not just a sweeping one about the fight of good versus evil. Harry’s bitter grief over growing up without father that causes him to lash out at Lupin, when the latter suggests assisting the trio in their quest, at the expense of abandoning his pregnant wife Tonks. Their argument at Grimmauld Place was one of the more emotional and human (non-Voldemort-caused) conflicts in the entire series. And their subsequent reconciliation, when Lupin asks Harry to become godfather to little Teddy Lupin, was poignant and heartbreakingly sad and happy at the same time. This is made all the more so when, in the battle against the Dark Lord, both (SPOILER ALERT!) Lupin and Tonks die, leaving Harry as the Sirius Black (minus the accusations of murder, of course) to Teddy’s orphaned Harry (minus the lightning scar, too). *cue the tissues!*
On the other side of the coin, there was one non-book scene that the writers chose to include in the movie that I thought was brilliant. Harry and Hermione’s impromptu dancing scene was funny, cute, lonely, light and heavy at the same time. Some people think that it looked like Harry was trying to test the romantic waters with Hermione in this scene. I think that’s totally off the mark, though. If you watched the movies (you don’t even have to read the books), from The Sorcerer’s Stone to The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire, it is clear that these two are more of brother and (older and wiser) sister. I think they understand each other too well (Hermione can tell when Harry’s lying, Harry can tell when Hermione is hurting, etc.) to be able to have any sort of romantic feelings toward one another. Their brief dance scene, made appropriately hilarious by Daniel Radcliffe’s bad, white-boy dancing was just another one of these instances. And, really, after Ron’s walkout and the danger and the frustrations, I felt they needed a breather, a couple of minutes to just be silly and laugh at themselves a little bit, a break before they faced their daunting task again. I know I needed that.
Anyway, as I already said, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is a great movie. And, I can’t really blame the writers for cutting out the subplots they chose to exclude, or else the movie would’ve lasted forever. But, this is the last book, and this is Harry Potter, and I’m all for anything that would prolong the wonderful, magical experience that were the books and the movies. Maybe the movie would’ve been three hours long (versus the actual 2 hrs, 27 mins) but I wouldn’t have minded one bit. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Movie poster from harrypotter.warnerbros.com