Miscellaneous and Probably Boring Thoughts on Harry Potter

Bart and I went to see the final Harry Potter movie on Friday evening (thank you, 2-for-1 movie tickets on Fridays with a Visa signature card).

In many ways, I thought it was the best of the movies so far (I feel like the movies have been somewhat uneven), and probably would have continued to feel so if they hadn’t taken so many (stupid) liberties with the ending of the movie.

Spoilers, I guess, if you happen to care about Harry Potter enough to be bothered by spoilers, but not enough to have read the books and know how things happen.

I thought Neville’s killing of the snake was seriously weakened by the way they made it play out. The book really let Neville have his moment of glory and I wanted to see it.

And having the weird fight between Harry and Voldemort? Lame. And just the two of them dueling in the courtyard with Voldemort dissolving? A let down. The book has it so much better, with a full audience, and Harry’s explanation to Voldemort about the wand (much better to have the explanation before it really happened), and then the curse rebounding.

Plus, no moment with the three main kids in Dumbledore’s office, where Harry repairs his wand and puts aside the Elder Wand? And no cheering from the portraits on the wall? No Dumbledore weeping with pride and joy? You wanted me to be happy with a wand snap on the parapet and a quick explanation of Malfoy’s wand? Wrong. I will be disappointed. 

Also, because I am a very shallow and horrible person, I find myself totally disturbed by the fact that Ginny is taller than Harry.

End of Spoilers

I reread all of the books last winter, and I have some very happy memories of snuggling my nursing baby in the my in-laws’ basement, reading the British versions of several of the books, with the space heater next to my feet.

I realized when I read them, that, despite having seen all the movies, the books are so separate and distinct in my mind that I do not imagine the movie characters or movie sets when I read the books. I still so clearly remember my own Harry, Ron, and Hermione. The Great Hall looks far different than the book one does and Snape is less old than Alan Rickman.

And for that, I’m glad. Although the movies are fun, the books are really where it’s at for me, and I’m glad the movies haven’t taken that from me.

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  • Reply Lisa C July 19, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Those were my exact criticisms to Dan when he asked how I thought it was having read the book. I know Dan (and some critics') complaint was that Voldemort's final downfall was anticlimactic being so long after the big dramatic battle in the castle, so maybe they made up that ridiculously long fight to try and build more drama?

  • Reply Kimberly F. July 19, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    I think all of the characters are taller than shorty Daniel Radcliffe.

  • Reply Camille July 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    I just watched this thing the other day about the making of the movies and J.K. Rowling said that she felt that the Great Hall was perfect and just how she envisioned it. Clearly, you are imagining the wrong Great Hall! 😉

    Poor Alan Rickman.
    I seriously would have married him in the nineties, but now? Not so much.

  • Reply Karen July 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I so agree. For me, the books are definitely where it is at, and the movies are just an interesting (and uneven) sidelight. Not even sure I need to see the last two movies. But I am sure I will be rereading the books (already re-read them last fall) again sometime in the future. I feel the same way about The Lord of the Rings.

  • Reply ssm July 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Gregg and I are going to see it on Saturday, but we haven't even seen 7.1 (that was during the scream if you see a babysitter phase for my children). And yes, the books are so separate I don't feel like they're the same species as the movies. And my favorite, by far, was #3 (both book and movie).

  • Reply Miri July 19, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    I haven't written anything about it yet because I know a lot of people who haven't seen the movie, but I felt the same. It was all really fantastic, except the ending, which was completely anticlimactic. The worst is the courtyard fight with Harry and Voldemort–no one there to see, no big explanation, and all of a sudden Voldemort just starts… disintegrating. Very disappointing.

  • Reply Merrick July 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    My criticisms were identical to those. Neville with the snake and sword, no audience for the final fight, weird flying fight (I think it was supposed to be a dramatic moment, but I started laughing it was so odd), and then no ending in Dumbledore's office (that was my MAIN complaint…what a bad ending they chose instead).

    I thought the ending would feel so final and epic and amazing, but I sort of left the theater feeling like, "'s over. That was a weird ending."

    Good thing the real ending was when I finished book #7…cause that was just the ending that a series like that needed.

  • Reply Jenny July 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Yep, I agree. I haven't seen the last two movies yet but the books are so much better and thankfully stay separate in my mind too.

  • Reply Noelle July 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I agree with your comments about the ending but overall I was happy with the movie as well. It was exciting and great effects. I especially liked the gringotts scene.

  • Reply July 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm

    So many people were talking about how sad they were that it was "all over" but for me it ended in 2007 when Deathly Hallows came out. I also reread the books last winter and felt the same way. I'm kind of looking forward to the 30 hour mini series BBC will eventually do in 50 years (wish) because I think it will hit more of the emotional aspects that I experienced. I could have watched a full half hour of Snape's memories which were too short in my opinion and less emotionally charged than I pictured them in my mind. In 7.1 I was superbly disappointed with the farewell to the Dursley's. I'm sad also that it never shows Percy redeem himself after being such a "prat" and I'm sad that Fred didn't get an actual death scene. All in all I really enjoyed the movie, knowing it would never EVER live up to the book. I don't know why it took such liberties because the book is, in my opinion, flawless in it's ending.

  • Reply Carly July 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I seriously love the books too–and love to reread them. (My sister has one or two of the british versions… and I've thought off and on about getting my hands on the set… do you recommend it?)

    But I was SO VERY VERY UPSET with movie #6 that I have absolutely ZERO desire to see either of the 7s. Really, I was livid. I still get mad when I think about it (and it was two and half years ago that I saw it!)

    Silly, I know. I should just let the differences go. But I just couldn't/can't. And from what you've said about the differences in 7.2, I'm really ok with not getting all worked up again (which will undoubtedly happen if I see it).

  • Reply Emily Kate July 19, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I never have reread the series straight through (but have reread certain books). You're enticing me to do that. At the very least, I really want to reread the last one after the movie. I enjoyed the movie a lot but agree that the ending was a let down.

  • Reply blaine and michelle July 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Totally agree. And because I am equally shallow I am also completely disturbed by Ginny being taller. And their kiss was incredibly awkward and disappointing as well. Can I get an amen?

  • Reply Bethany July 19, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Totally! The books are so separate and distinct in my mind too.

  • Reply Corbett Family July 19, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    I just saw the movie last night and it really bugged me that Ginny was taller than Harry. Jim cracked me up when he commented that "putting a little peach fuzz on Daniel Radcliffe does not make him look 19 years older for the ending scene."

    Anyway, the highlight for me was watching my 8 year old watch the movie. He just finished reading Book 7 last week and has read all 7 of them over the course of the past year. He was just really excited to get to see one of the movies in the theater since he had seen the rest on DVD and he was literally jumping up and down in his seat during certain scenes–priceless.

  • Reply David Grover July 19, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Janssen. Bradshaw.

    What. is. up.

    I just did a Google search for "apple," and on the first page of results was a link to a post of yours on a dress your mom bought you. What? Are you that popular or is Google that creepy? Anyway, somehow I'd lost track of your blog feed back when you moved to Boston, and I'm so happy to see you're back in Austin where you belong. Just thought I'd say hello. Tell Bart I said "hey."

  • Reply Rachel July 19, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Seriously? Your thoughts could have been straight from my brain. I completely agree on every point, even down to the re-reading the books while nursing a baby (but I did it in the spring and with no space heater.) In addition to being bothered by Ginny's height, it upsets me that she is A. not a very good actress and B. just not that pretty. Oh well.

  • Reply The well rounded mom July 20, 2011 at 12:17 am

    I am so glad that I insisted my kids read the books before they saw the movies! The books are so much better! I also await the BBC version that will happen someday!

  • Reply Becca July 20, 2011 at 2:39 am

    A few thoughts:

    -I was also disappointed that there was basically NO Dumbledore scandal drama, because I feel like that was significant in the books. We got a bit of that in the last movie, but it's a real struggle for Harry, and I would have liked to have seen at least some of it.

    -I was having weird, horrible contractions during the film and had to leave during the 'heaven' scene for like 5 minutes (grr) and then when I came back I had to remain standing for the rest of the film. So, that put a damper on things.

    -I'm actually really jealous that you have a Harry Potter world in your head from the books, separate from the movies. I completely forgot what mine looked like because it became dissolved in the film's portrayal.

    -I was totally disturbed that Harry was super short, basically compared to everyone. 🙁

  • Reply Janelle July 20, 2011 at 3:04 am

    Amen, amen, and amen. It looks like great minds think alike. Or fools seldom differ. Or something. Because, like every other commenter, my complaints with 7.2 were very similar to yours. I was looking forward to the snake scene, and the ending in Dumbledore's office and was much disappointed.

    Also, seriously bugged about the height discrepancy. Though, in their credit, they picked the actors long before they knew how tall they would be. But then again, they could have faked it.

    And, what is the difference between the American and British versions?

  • Reply Erica July 20, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Haha! It has always bothered me that Ginny is taller! I agree that the characters in the book are not the characters in the movies, and that has always bothered me. But as we discussed (I think), the characters as read by Jim Dale? Spot on.

    North Meets South

  • Reply megan July 20, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Ok, but watch who you are calling old. I kinda have a thing for Alan Rickman. Did I just admit that? Not as Snape of course. . . Hmm… maybe I should just withdraw this comment.

  • Reply smalldog July 20, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I much prefer the books to, they are "where it's at." I enjoyed the movies, but like you I already had a complete world in my head and the movies weren't capable of shifting it despite the cool effects.

  • Reply Drew July 20, 2011 at 10:40 pm

    Am I really the only person who noticed that there ARE people watching when Harry and Voldemort duel? Sure, not the whole crowd, but there are witnesses.

    I just don't understand how people are calling Voldemort's final demise anti-climactic. I thought it was very climactic, at least more than him falling over dead and being shoved into a side closet like he was in the book (I admit that has a nice sort of mortality and finality to it, but I always felt THAT was anti-climactic).

    Also, I'm really tired of all the "THE BOOKS ARE SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE MOVIES!!!" whining. Of COURSE the books are better, the movies were never meant to replace or surpass the books, just to complement them as adaptations. When people have unrealistic expectations for ANY book-to-film adaptation, they will be disappointed. They had to make these movies for both fans of the books and non-readers. Can you imagine the pressure to adapt such beloved stories and make them accessible for people who haven't read the books? I think they've done a fantastic job from start to finish.

    And yes, Bonnie is taller than Dan (most people are), and she also has about one-tenth the personality Ginny has in the books, but I can overlook even that. 🙂

  • Reply Laurie@The Baking Bookworm July 21, 2011 at 1:25 am

    I haven't seen the final movie yet (I plan to soon!) but I'm a HUGE fan of the series in general.

    I personally adore the books and think that the movies were well done. Perfect? No, but as good as you can get for such a detailed series. That's why I wanted my boys (almost 10 and 11 yrs) to read the entire series before seeing the final movies. There were so many minor storylines that were left out (Firenze more notable storyline, Hermione's S.P.E.W …) and the books explain the Deathly Hallows and the horcruxes more clearly.

    For me, the movies (especially the earlier movies) represented exactly what I imagined in my mind when I read the books (ie Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, characters …). I think it's because Rowling's descriptions were so vivid.

    That said, I do agree that Voldemort's demise was pretty dull compared to what I was expecting but I'll forgive Rowling for that flaw. 😉

    It's sad to see the series end but I can't wait to see the final film. Right now my almost 10 year old needs to see the 7th movie before we go out to see the last movie.

    I also did a farwell to Potter post if you're interested. Like I said, big fan here. 🙂

  • Reply Chelsea July 21, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Ditto! Loved the books. Like the movies. I both liked and hated the final movie. It was fun, but there were some parts in the book that I loved that they totally re-wrote. Bummer. Oh, well….I still have the books!

  • Reply Katie July 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Ah! It totally bugged me that Ginny was taller than Harry!

  • Reply Peaceful Reader July 24, 2011 at 4:11 am

    I think it is perfect than the books remain by far the better choice! I did enjoy this movie as much as the others…and I enjoyed it at the midnight showing with my husband and teenage children. I loved all the people who came out in costume to celebrate!

  • Reply Holly Hoffman Spears July 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    i've never read the books, but i've seen the all the movies a million times. i'm sure the books are way better and i'm missing out on a lot.

    this may be a dumb question, but i didn't really get the thing about harry's mom and snape boh conjuring a deer. snape was doing it and pretending it was his mom? they're the same because they were such good friends and snape was still in love with her? for a second i thought they were trying to say that snape was harry's real dad. haha.

    and seriously, they shoulda put heels on harry's shoes for the one kissing seen.

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