Harry Potter Weekend – An 8-movie Retrospective

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A couple of weeks ago I ended up with a low-grade flu. Since I was good for nothing other than sprawling on the couch and sipping juice, it seemed like a great opportunity to marathon all 8 Harry Potter films in one weekend. Watching the movies in close succession brought some interesting perceptions.

Before I jump into those, a few stipulations. 1) I am a Potterhead, converted to the books in 2000. No other series of books means more to me. Period. 2) For the most part, I don’t complain about changes made in the films. I understand they’re different mediums and audiences, therefore certain elements had to change.

  1. The films are not cohesive, not even the last four with the same director. While I appreciate that each director wanted to make it their own, it makes for a disjointed marathon. Prisoner of Azkaban stands out the worst; it is the darkest film and there is absolutely no reason for it to be.
  2. The film that comes closest to the spirit of its book, for me, is Goblet of Fire. It has the right balance of weird, funny, and emotion. Additionally, it gives us multiple scenes away from Harry, something we couldn’t get out of a 3rd-person-limited book. I appreciate that it is not only the closest to the books in tone, but it takes the most advantage of being a movie instead of a book.
  3. Ginny is a horrible character in the films. This article was shared with me last week and it’s completely true—Ginny is a useless character beneath what Harry deserves. But I love her book self. I’m much happier projecting who she is supposed to be on the shadow of her film character.
  4. So much feeling is lost by not having the Marauders explained properly. It is my biggest problem with Prisoner of Azkaban, and the later films suffer for it. All Remus needed to do, in the ending scene in his office, was say something like, “Harry, I am Moony, Sirius is Padfoot, Peter is Wormtail, and James, your dad, was Prongs.” How hard is that? In the end, the full impact of who appears from the Resurrection Stone is lost. And I blame Alfonso Cuarón whole-heartedly. Also, ask a movie fan, not a book fan, to tell you who the Marauders are. They may pick up on Sirius and Peter, but I can almost guarantee that they won’t get Remus, and never get James. I call this a travesty.
  5. Minerva McGonagall is amazing. Although I didn’t get my army of desks I wanted so desperately, I still love her role in the last film. The faith she puts in Harry and the clear concern she has for him, even when she’s a background character, is truly heartwarming.
  6. When I saw DH1 in the theater, I hated not having “Hedwig’s Theme” make an appearance in the film score. It made me really angry. I said the only way they could redeem themselves is if it plays when Harry gets back to Hogwarts in DH2. Well, apparently Alexandre Desplat and I had the same idea; they did it, and it’s AMAZING. All was forgiven, and the effect is even better when doing a full marathon.
  7. Finally, book readers, you all remember the empty listlessness we had to go through when we finished reading DH. It was horrible. A small part of our ourselves lived in those pages and we couldn’t get it back. What were we supposed to do now? Eventually, we found a way to pick up and move on, but I took a few days to come out of it. Watching all eight movies in 2 days, despite their flaws, brought back just a little bit of that same listlessness. Just a bit. And it was kind of amazing to experience it again.

This list is only 7 points long because I would like to emphasize that there should only be seven Harry Potter films, not eight. The end.

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