My post from February 2011…
Ok, so this isn’t a review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 by Warner Bros, given that Part 2 is scheduled for release this summer, and would be rather lacking in punctuality, but I was inspired after listening to Mark Kermode’s review of the latest installment, and the ensuing historic battle of books vs movies, and, hold on to your Sorting Hats, the phenomena that there are sections of our society who have never read the books, but very much like the movie franchise, having never read the books. I admit, there are more shocking things in life, but, I’ll juggle those balls another time. Beware, spoilers this way come…
I, myself, am a born-again-Harry-Potter-book-fan.
I first encountered the wizarding world on dvd, with The Philosopher’s Stone in 2001, and my visits thereafter followed the same route…screen only. Until, that is,The Goblet of Fire came along, and, WOW, I was hooked, and sought out my Rowling literary fix. Fairly or unfairly, I followed the general rule, and dismissed the first two books, believing the films to have covered all the bases and given an adequate introduction (a position I still maintain, having now read those books).
Now, as we approach the finale, and I let out the occasional squeak whenever I think about how the Battle of Hogwarts shall be rendered, I want to address some of my own issues with the books vs the movies debate.
In the book corner, my favourites are the last four, and the movie roll call is much the same, save for…Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
This book was, by far, my favourite, and, as opposed to the overall reception, the movie was by far, the most disappointing.
Having come to the glorious literary bosom of J K Rowling via the films, and the belief in the superiority of the novels, I appreciate the impact and general fidelity of the films, which is what makes me also believe that The Half Blood Prince is a cinematic Jezebel – the fact that the positive reception is due, on the whole, to the on-screen performances and visual effects, the film utterly betrayed me as a ‘bookie’ so much was removed, so much background and set ups for the final installments, which is why HPMOFs (Harry Potter Movie Only Fans) have problems in following the new on-screen details, and don’t appreciate the lack thereof in the last movie.
If The Half Blood Prince had been an act in two parts, the final outing would have been set up much better – I agree, the performances were fantastic (save for Bonnie Wright’s Ginny, and the excruciating “shoelace” moment), as were the visuals, which, admittedly, the franchise does so well, and were the initial reason I picked up the books.
So, maybe the problem lies not on the screen, but, behind the camera.
No doubt, David Yate’s directorial rendering has been very good, but he, and Steve Kloves (the franchise’s scriptwriter, save for The Goblet of Fire), definitely screwed the pooch on this one – the guts of the book were lost in translation. In both mediums, there is a great deal of exposition. The difference is, the book has more dialogue and less action than earlier editions, and the film adaptation has less action, and the WRONG dialogue eg. all the ‘won, won’s’, and love potion indulgence vs Marvolo Riddle’s revelations.
Over 600 pages of content and background were clumsily crushed into the last 40 minutes – plus, the obligatory quidditch scenes. Personally, I would have happily traded Ron not getting spiked and discovering his inner strength, to see the Riddles’ home, Snape’s romantic obsession, the importance of Volde’s snake Nagini, or even Aunt Petunia as a kid, all of which are important in the ensuing installment.
There seems to be some debate about the decision to split the final film, but, clearly, it should be because someone (Warner Bros, Yates, Kloves etc) dropped the ball in the last film. I know that’s wishful thinking, because I actually agree with some that it’s about money, but, hopefully, The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will fulfill the promise of the first half, and be just as enthralling, and finish with such a deafening crescendo as each of the books did, I for one can’t wait to find out.