The producers of the Harry Potter filmseries had a challenge before them. They had to condense seven books, four of which were bigger than bricks, into two hour films each. J.K. Rowling had created a complex world full of colorful characters and places. But the filmmakers had to keep the focus on Harry and his adventures. When it came time to adapt the seventh book, the filmmakers just said “screw it” and spilt the seventh film into two parts. And they still didn’t get everything in! Here are ten moments, characters and subplots’ we think should have made it into the films:
Fans were rather peeved that the Hogwarts Poltergeist didn’t make it into the films. Please excuse the bad joke, it’s what the character would have wanted. In the books, Peeves provided comic relief via pranks and crude humor. His presence along with the moving staircases, talking portraits and dangerous beasties lurking in the Forbidden Forrest helped make Hogwarts an exciting, fun and slightly dangerous place. He added whimsy to the castle, but his crudeness ensured that said whimsy never became saccharine. Despite all he added to the tone and feel of the books, Peeves is never important to the plot of the Harry Potter novels. He doesn’t have a secret that unlocks a key part of anyone’s backstory, he’s not a key player in the fight against Voldemort, though his actions affect subplots such as the revolt against Umbridge in Order of the Phoenix. It’s understandable why he was cut, since the movies have two hours each to tell the story of Harry and friends. It’s an unfortunate cut, since Peeves is a beloved, if a little annoying, figure in the books.Advertisement
If you watched the movies without reading the books, you would think that Hermione was a perfect princess with great hair and nary a thing wrong with her. The worst you could say is that she’s a bit uptight. The books present a different character. Hermione is just as brainy, insightful and powerful as she is in the movies. But she has deep flaws. In a classroom setting, she can recall information and perform spells better than any of her peers. But she has a hard time staying cool under pressure in the real world. She’s perfectly capable of casting a Patronus in a Dumbledore’s Army meeting, but when it’s time to do it in front of a Dementor, she cracks under the strain. She’s also utterly ruthless in the books. She hexed a girl for betraying Dumbledore’s Army, leaving her with a permanent disfigurement. She lashes out at Ron violently for daring to date another girl (what a crime). And probably most horribly, she held a woman hostage in a jar. And the movies suffer for not showing the less pretty parts of Hermione. Without her flaws, Hermione is a cardboard cutout of a girl, not a three-dimensional character who has bad days, takes petty vengeance and whose hair isn’t perfect but manages to still be wonderful and badass.
On the opposite side of the coin, there’s Ron. The movies show a bumbling oaf who has nothing to contribute but snide remarks. Ron does have his funny moments in the books. But he’s also the heart of the trio, the most kind and tactically brilliant. At age eleven he stays with Harry over Christmas instead of going back home to his family. Just because he didn’t want Harry to be alone. Later in the book, he beats Professor McGonagall’s chess set. And this is just the first book! Throughout the series, his loyalty to his friends and compassion makes him stand out in The Trio. He has, “If you’re going to kill Harry, you’ll have to go through me!” line in the books. In the movies, that’s given to Hermione. He also defends Hermione when Snape calls her an “insufferable” know-it-all which earns him detention. In the movies, he just says, “he’s got a point.” Sure, in the books Ron can be insensitive, but he has a huge heart and that’s the reason his friends want to hang around him in the first place.
In the Goblet of Fire we are introduced to Winky the House Elf. She serves Barty Crouch, and is dismissed from service in the first third of the book. This leaves her despondent and she turns to drinking to deal with her grief. She’s an important clue that something fishy is going on with Barty Crouch. Why would he dismiss her over what seems to be a simple mistake, especially when it causes her so much distress? When all is revealed, she confirms Barty Crouch Jr.’s story about him and his father and how they tie into Voldemort’s return to power. Her plight also shows that the Wizarding World isn’t perfect. None of the characters (least of all Hermione) think it is okay that the Wizarding World uses slave labor. But the House Elves as a culture are too brainwashed to realize they deserve freedom or at least fair working conditions. The movies did not explore this, probably because they did not have time. There are a lot of events going on in the Wizarding World, so many of its faults are shoved to the background.
Molly Weasley's Boggart
The filmmakers decided to leave one of the most striking moments in Order of the Phoenix completely out of the film. Our heroes are cleaning out 12 Grimmauld Place to make it suitable headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix. As they clean, they come across many strange magical creatures, including a boggart. (This is the creature that turns into what you fear most and was introduced in the third book). Molly Weasley volunteers to get rid of it, but she has difficulty getting rid of the creature. Because it turns into the dead bodies of her husband, her children and Harry. Her worst fear is losing her family. This scene cuts straight to the heart and shows what is at stake. Not only is it likely that Harry, our protagonist, will die but he will probably lose loved ones along the way. And he does lose loved ones, over and over again. Once again, this scene was probably cut for time.
The subplot regarding Percy Weasley isn't the most plot important. It does not really matter in the grand scheme of the books if Percy is on the side of the Ministry or the Order of the Phoenix. And since this subplot isn’t strictly needed, that’s probably why it was cut. But in the books Percy’s story does a fine job of showing how people can end up working for evil institutions. Percy is willing to work for the Ministry because to him, there’s no higher order. He goes so far as to ask Ron to abandon his family and friends and join up with the Ministry. (Ron refuses of course; we talked about how he too-big hearted and loyal to betray his friends). Even when the Ministry is proven to be in the wrong regarding Voldemort, Percy still clings to that authority. The subplot makes the conflict between the Order of the Phoenix and the Ministry of Magic more personal. It provides insight into not just Percy, but to all the others who sided against Harry when Harry claimed Voldemort was back.
St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries
We’ve gone over how the movies did not have time show everything. But was there seriously not enough time for St. Mungo’s? A lot of time there is spent in the wizarding hospital in The Order of the Phoenix. The movies suffer for not showing it. Within the hospital walls, several subplots were wrapped up; Arthur Weasley's recovery from Nagini’s bite, Gilderoy Lockhart’s fate and what happened to Neville’s parents. Sure, Neville’s parents’ subplot did get resolved, but that was told to use rather than shown like it was in the book. It was much more effective to see the condition the Death Eaters’ torture left Neville’s parents. Also, showing St. Mungo’s would have been a great opportunity to show off the medical side of the Wizarding World. We could have seen the filmmaker’s take on Wizarding doctors, nurses, illnesses and the hospital itself. It would have been quite a visual feast and it’s a shame we missed out. But the plots that happened there were only subplots and the movie needed to keep moving forwards.
Harry Breaking Dumbledore’s Things
The only moment in The Order of the Pheonix more heartbreaking than Sirius’ death was Harry’s reaction to Sirius’ death. He’s full of rage and grief. Oh, he’s so filled with rage. He’s lost his godfather, an adult he can trust and someone who’s acted like a parent to him. And for Harry, who grew up without parental love, having Sirius as his godfather was hugely important. When he’s taken back to Dumbledore’s office, he doesn’t sit quietly and listen to Dumbledore’s explanation about what just happened. He practically Hulks Out in the office, smashing things and yelling. It’s a real, raw reaction to a terrible blow. Some people did not like this reaction and maybe that’s why it was softened for the movie. It made Harry seem whiny and temperamental which some people annoying. But like we said before, this loss was devastating to Harry. His rage is understandable, especially so soon after he lost a parental figure. He hasn’t had time to process his loss. Portraying Harry’s grief would have been a challenge for Daniel Radcliffe, but we’re sure he would have been up for it.
Dudley's Goodbye to Harry
This scene was actually filmed, but was cut for time and pacing reasons. Which is a pity because it’s a really good scene that illustrates Dudley’s character growth. After his ordeal with the Dementors Dudley changed for the better. According to J.K. Rowling, the Dementors showed him for what he really was, a bully. This was a big shock to his system and prompted him to treat Harry with more kindness. He doesn’t really apologize to Harry for all the horrible things he did but saying “I don’t think you’re a waste of space” and “thanks for saving my life” and actually showing concern for Harry’s well-being are big steps for Dudley Dursley. We never really get full closure with Dudley, but J.K. Rowling said they reached an understanding and exchanged Christmas cards every year. Which is a pretty good place to reach considering that Dudley had relentlessly bullied Harry for most of their childhoods.
Peter Pettigrew a.k.a Wormtail played a huge role in the third and fourth installments of the book and movie series. We find out that he’s the one who betrayed Harry’s parents to Voldemort and is key in helping Voldy return to power. But we never get resolution for his story in the movies. He just kind of disappears from the narrative. In the fourth book, Voldemort gives him a silver hand to replace the one he lost. When Wormtail decides to spare Harry, that hand strangles him. It’s a gruesome, horrible death, yet fitting. Wormtail was a traitor for the entire series. So having his own hand literally turn on him makes sense. This cut was surprising since it take place during the sequence at Malfoy Manor. You would think it would have been easy to fit in. But Wormtail and his connection to Harry had been downplayed in the movies. The filmmakers might have thought adding his death would have distracted the viewers.