Hallows Movie in Two Parts: Where to Divide?

The LA Times story linked above is funny because the people interviewed insist this was strictly an artistic decision and that they don’t know how the book can be divided. I’m pretty confident that this is all for show. Why?

Lets read two sections of the article first, so we’re all on the same page:

Some cynics will see the move as simply doubling the box-office payday, but Radcliffe told The Times that the split is purely in service of the story.

“I think it’s the only way you can do it without cutting out a huge portion of the book,” Radcliffe said recently during a break on the set of “Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth “Potter” film, which is due in theaters on Nov. 21. “There have been compartmentalized subplots in the other books that have made them easier to cut — although those cuts were still to the horror of some fans — but the seventh book doesn’t really have any subplots. It’s one driving, pounding story from the word go.”

Producer David Heyman said the decision was made with some anxiety and only after considerable deliberations. The producer joked that “while my wife and Warner Brothers were pleased” to hear that the Potter movie magic will continue into the next decade, he himself fretted that the cynical observers would see the decision as a purely mercenary move.

“I swear to you it was born out of purely creative reasons,” Heyman said during an interview in a converted airplane factory outside London that has been home base to all of the “Potter” productions. “Unlike every other book, you cannot remove elements of this book. You can remove scenes of Ron playing quidditch from the fifth book, and you can remove Hermione and S.P.E.W. [Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare] and those subplots . . . but with the seventh, that can’t be done.”

The “Potter” films have pulled in a staggering $4.5 billion at the box office worldwide. Heyman said now that the “Potter” team knows they can split “Deathly Hollows” in half, the next challenge is figuring out the division.

As Heyman put it: “The question will be, where do you break it? And how do you make them one but two separate and distinct stories? Do you break it with a moment of suspense or one of resolution? These are the interesting challenges. But each book has presented its challenges.”

How big is $4.5 billion in Hollywood? Decisions at this level of income aren’t made because of art or story requirements.

Warner Brothers, in all humility, in deference to its stockholders, was forced to announce last month that, yes, Harry Potter is indeed the most successful film franchise in history:

The combined worldwide box office gross for the five Harry Potter films to date is in excess of $4.47 billion, surpassing the box office totals of all 22 James Bond films and the six Star Wars movies.

This impressive record comes even as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is still going strong in theatres around the globe, and with two more highly anticipated Harry Potter films — Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — still in the offing.

In addition to holding the franchise box office record, all five of the Harry Potter films have the distinction of being among the 20 top-grossing box office hits of all time.

Reyhan, over at Hog’s Head, explains mathematically and with a logic that is hardly cynical that the decision couldn’t have been made in a vacuum clear of the economics involved (the Potter industry is big enough to be discussed as an economy). Warner Brothers, quite simply, is obliged to its stockholders not to forsake what will be at least another $500 million payday just from the additional movie. Because each movie generates extra Potter book and Fandom accessories sales in its wake, that number, after DVD sales and spin-offs are factored in, could easily double or triple that estimate.

Forgive me if I balk at believing this was an artistic decision arrived at without anyone acknowledging the billion dollar elephant in the room. I am naive. I doubt these people are. If I owned stock in Warner Brothers, I’d be asking why the last two movies weren’t double features.

And the “struggle” and “challenge” to divide the book? I’m pretty sure that this had to have been part of the pitch for two films. The answer isn’t especially hard to come by.

Say you think Deathly Hallows needs to be divided by the story-telling arc, at the point where Harry has confronted his first difficulties and come to a point that is a natural beginning of the second story. That would make the first film’s ending the action in the Forest of Dean, The Silver Doe. Harry will have had his moment of despair after the revelations and broken wand agonies of his trip to Godric’s Hollow and the cathartic moments and illumination consequent to Ron’s heroic return, baptism, and destruction of the Horcrux.

Or maybe you’re thinking of the book thematically; it’s about Harry’s alchemical transformation and his struggle to believe. Again, you wind up with The Silver Doe. Harry’s nigredo agonies — the isolation, even the break-up of the trio, Harry’s broken faith and wand, the atmosphere of hopelessness and confusion — have been endured and, in Ron’s return and purification, the beginning of Harry’s choice to believe are evident (Dumbledore gave Ron the Deluminator, after all).

Of course, you could just drop the book on the table in front of you. My edition is just about 760 pages long. Sure enough, division reveals the book has two halves of 380 pages each. The Silver Doe ends on page 385.

As I’ve written elsewhere, The Silver Doe is Ms. Rowling’s best single chapter in the 4100 page Harry Potter epic. It combines Arthurian, Alchemical, and Christian content seamlessly and to great effect. Ms. Rowling obviously likes it, too; if memory doesn’t fail me, it was what she read at Carnegie Hall to the Sweepstakes winners. The Deathly Hallows movies should pivot on this chapter because it and Harry’s decision to pursue Horcruxes in Dobby’s grave are the two natural story pivots. There’s not much to work with in Part II if you put both pivots in the first film.

If I were cynical, I’d say Ms. Rowling wrote the book so it had two parts that could be made into two satisfying movies. But I’m not cynical. I’m also not so naive that I think the billion dollar elephant didn’t make this decision a no-brainer for everyone involved (at least those working for publicly owned corporations), especially as the natural break in the story doesn’t make the pecuniary goals destroy the quality of the film making. “Difficult to decide where to break the film”? A “challenge”? C’mon.

Your comments and corrections, please.


  1. GULP! By now, John, you will have received my email to your Zossima address and the copy of the press release touting the two-part movie 7 enterprise. Sorry about that for jumping on my bandwagon before checking HogPro. (You can’t blame a girl for getting excited once in a while!)

    Regardless the reasoning, I am personally thrilled to see *Deathly Hallows* as a two-parter, especially when both films will be shot congruently ala LoTR.

    As for the split…well…you make a great argument for focusing on *The Silver Doe* at the end of part 1 and rejoining the story in the same chapter at the beginning of part 2. However it happens…I applaud the decision to do the final book justice.

    PJ, wishing I had stock in Warner Brothers!

  2. If they want to end on a cliffhanger (which frankly might be rather frustrating) – then it would be the moment that Greyback and his Snatcher Gang show up after Voldemort’s name is said.

    If they want to end like Return of the King – then it’s just before the Battle for Hogwarts – that could be an entire film right there. That means it could end as they take flight on the dragon out of Gringotts – that could be a wonderful way to end a movie without completely frustrating the audience to have to wait six months for the final installment. I can hear John Williams music as the dragon takes flight. You almost think Jo wrote it that way. It would give the audience the full price for their ticket – nearly the entire book – but with the most important part, the part that takes place at Hogwarts for the final film.

    Think of all the things that take place at Hogwarts – it’s tons and tons of stuff. We can bid farewell to all the characters and the actors as well – they all show up for the final battle. That’s what I would do .


  3. That this decision was made after another studio decided to “double the fun” (and prpfits) by making The Hobbit a double feature is another indication that they made this decision because they felt they could get away with it. Like PJ and, I suspect, Ms. Rowling, I think this is neat news because we get more of the written story elements. Something of a return to the film series beginning at the end… I only find myself shaking my head at the claims that the decision was story-driven.

    My memory is failing me, forgive me. Did we get a “Snape’s Worst Memory” chapter in *Order of the Phoenix*? If not, should we assume that was not an important part of that story and the series as a whole? And Harry discussing his situation with Dumbledore rather than destroying his office and berating a crying, old man?

    Again, no complaints from me. I thought the *Phoenix* was brilliantly time and story collapsed to retain much of the meaning. I’m thrilled we’ll have more of Ms. Rowling and less film-genius. I’m looking forward, as well, to the teevee series (for a chapter by chapter film portrayal), the six hour musical, and the Opera Cycle we should expect in the years to come. Just don’t tell me there isn’t an economic drive behind the efforts to create them. There aren’t many big-show productions you can begin that investors can know they will get a healthy return.

    The fail safe question: if the first five movies were not as unbelievably successful as they have been, if they were, say, breaking even like the Bonds films (!), would Warner Brothers be making this two movies “because the story demands it”? Please don’t call asking this rhetorical, evident question “cynicism.” If this is cynical, the retort would have to include words like “patronizing” and “dishonest.” Why not just say, “the movies have been such a great success that we’re going out with a double-feature as Harry Potter fans have asked us to do for every book since Goblet of Fire“? That would have been almost respectful camouflage for the billion dollar elephant.

  4. revgeorge says


    They did have Snape’s worst memory scene in OOTP but they left Lily out of it! So, I guess they’ll cut out in DH the silver doe scene & all of the Prince’s tale. 🙂

    They only had a minute or so talk between Harry & Dumbledore at the end of OOTP. I think they knew they couldn’t do it properly because Gambon wouldn’t have been able to pull it off convincingly.

    Personally, I think they’ve been painting themselves into a corner since the third movie & they know they have to have more time to throw in all these details that they need to have the story feel more coherent.

    But these are just the ramblings of a man who’s finally caught his wife’s cold. 🙁

  5. Call me a cynic, but in light of the painfully short films of late (specifically OotP and GoF), I get the distinct impression that the dollar bill is the penultimate bottom line. And, frankly, Radcliffe’s blue-shadowed mug did little for me in the last film – he’s really beginning to outgrow Harry. Grint’s portrayal of Ron is up to the minute goofy and unheroic – a far cry from the actual book character, IMHO. When are the directors going to let him grow up? Perhaps that’s the reason for stringing out the last film, to get a few things right. Not. They would have done better to film HBP and TDH together over a longer period of time (a la Lord of the Rings), making two 3-hour movies. As it stands, Radcliffe will be hard-pressed to maintain the still-innocent youth of Harry. Grint will need to show us what he’s really made of in terms of maturing Ron, and Watson – well, she does what she does and we can only hope she doesn’t get it too wrong (perhaps with some good directing. . .).
    Yeah, you’d better call me a cynic. It’s Hollywood, after all.

  6. Well-said, John. And I had to laugh about the “memory fails me” part. It’s not really memory failing to not recall the Snape’s worst memory moment from the Phoenix film — it was SO FAST that if you blinked, you’d miss it. And even if you didn’t blink, if you weren’t watching carefully, you might miss Lily in the scene.

    Seems to me one of the more interesting creative questions (almost as interesting as where they will divide the stories) is how they will build back in certain story elements they’ve taken out in recent films, apparently not thinking them important. Like much of Snape’s interaction with Harry, and like Dobby. We haven’t seem him in the films at all since Chamber, have we? And yet he plays a pivotal plot and and emotional role in the finale.

    ZoeRose, I love your idea…saving a whole movie for the Battle of Hogwarts. It could practically be filmed in real time (well, not quite…but you know what I mean!). Hey, if they got Peter Jackson on board, it could be as long as the battle for Helm’s Deep! Kidding…just kidding….

    I know Yates is on board through 7, but have we heard if they’ll continue to have him collaborate with Hooper as composer? Or will they go back to Williams or Doyle for 7’s music? That’s an interesting creative question too.

  7. We did get a Snape’s worst memory, though very shortened and not explained enough for it to be obvious. And there was no Lily in that scene. So they’ll have to do some extending of the scene for that one to really make sense. One of the things they did with it also was that Harry saw it during an Occlumency lesson rather than by poking his nose in the Pensieve (which they didn’t show Snape using).

    However, I still think that Yates was more on the right track than Cuaron. My non-Harry reading hubby didn’t get anything about the importance of the Marauders from POA and when I tried to fill him in on it, he shrugged it off because it wasn’t important or it would have been in the movie. Yes, well, tell that to Cuaron. He did well with part of the Shrieking Shack and then stopped too soon and left out the connection all these people had to James (and Harry) and to each other.

    None of the movies, even the first ones handle the endings well–they all have just a bit of the conversations that Dumbledore has with Harry to help him understand what is happening to him, and that means that anyone who has not read the books really doesn’t get the full impact of why Lily’s sacrifice is so important or any of the relationships of the other adult characters. They have instead chosen to focus primarily on Harry and the other kids, and that’s going to be hard to fix in the last installment, but they will need to fix it or it won’t matter that it’s shown in two movies.

    Oh, and non-book hubby got most of the points about Order of the Phoenix without my explanations, where he didn’t from Prisoner and Goblet. So as far as I’m concerned that was praise for Yates. Actually, I prefer Order as well, out of the last three. He just needed to include a little more about Lily being in Snape’s memory and more of the rivalry between Snape and Sirius. Of course, there needed to be more explanation about the prophecy at the end, but then there was Gambon to deal with. (I was OK with not seeing Harry yelling through the movie. I thought they still captured his feelings of isolation and frustration without all the screaming.)

    John, I agree with you that the best place to break the movies is after the Silver Doe. Not only does it work well for the story, but should have the sort of dramatic impact that movies like to have as endings. There is enough excitement then for both movies, but with Silver Doe as the end of the first part, there is still some resolution to what Harry is going through and plenty of set-up for the second movie.


  8. My memory is failing me, forgive me. Did we get a “Snape’s Worst Memory” chapter in *Order of the Phoenix*?

    It was in there but I think it didn’t have Lily in it.

  9. I honestly don’t care who says what about the reasons behind the decision to make DH into two movies — I’m just really glad they are because we are likely to get most of the story without leaving any major elements out. Where to divide? I like ZoeRose’s suggestion of ending the first with the dragon ride out of Gringott’s and spending the second movie on the Battle of Hogwarts. I also can see the divide taking place after Ron’s return in “The Silver Doe,” but thought at first that dividing right after Ron leaves would be interesting. Like others already have said, there is so much action in DH, how can you possibly leave any of it out?? In my mind, we really are looking at two 3-hour movies if they are going to attempt to tell the whole story.

    That being said, I had a different experiece of OOTP at the theater than John, as did several of my friends. We felt the OOTP is one of the more important installments in the series and that the movie really was just a good trailer for the book. It felt so stripped down that I really was left rather disappointed (though I will buy the DVD just to have the whole set). Maybe seeing it again will change my opinion. Also, John, I think there was a “Snape’s Worst Memory” scene in the movie, but it also may be been somewhat stripped down (no pun intended). It’s been so long since I’ve seen it though that I can’t be sure I have that right. Anyone else out there have a better memory??

  10. An interesting fail safe question, Professor. I remember an interview with the four young actors from the first *Narnia* film…the question was posed concerning subsequent movies from the book series. Their response was essentially this: (and I do not quote verbatim, but from memory) We think the producers are waiting to see how this first film is received before embarking on a second. Hey…money talks.

    Let’s all applaud the success of a series of well-created movies enjoyable for nth amount of viewing! We know that the incredible cinemagraphics couldn’t be produced without the advanced technology of today’s filmmaking, so let’s enjoy Harry on the widescreen!

  11. We do get a glimpse of “Snape’s Worst Memory” in the “Order of the Phoenix” movie; we briefly see James bullying Severus. However, the REAL reason why this was Snape’s worst memory is completely omitted. We don’t see Lily sticking up for Severus, and a humiliated Severus calling her a mudblood, thereby losing her friendship. I think far too much was cut from the “Order of the Phoenix” book in order to make the movie, although I don’t necessarily fault the screenwriter and director. After all, how do you turn an eight hundred page book into a two-hour movie without cutting nearly everything? On this basis, I’m glad that “Deathly Hallows” will be split into two movies, regardless of Warner Brothers’ motivation. My only fear is that by the time the second installment of DH is created, Harry, Ron and Hermione, who are supposed to be teenagers, will look like they’re crowding thirty, Alan Rickman (Snape) will be seventy, and they may need to recruit a third Dumbledore!

  12. In the movie business you can never totally separate artistic and financial considerations. Warner Brothers would not be investing the extra tens or hundreds of millions that a second film will cost unless they were satisfied that they will make a profit on their investment. That means that the creative team has to be satisfied that they can make two good films that will have appeal beyond the hard-core Potter fans who want to see everything in the books on the screen.

    Deathly Hallows is the first book where dividing the story into two films has been a viable artistic possibility. The earlier books have neither a viable dividing point nor enough material to support two really good films

    This may be a case of making two films not because the story demands it but because, for the first time, the story permits it.

  13. The principals quoted, though, say that they don’t know where the book will be divided; two films are necessary because all the details are central and not disposable.

    If they had made your argument, petersim, about inseparable concerns (art and money), we would have all nodded our heads at the common sense and truth of the matter. Here, though, there is an assertion that art makes the decisions, without attention to the financials.

    Of course, we don’t know what the principals really said. The Daily Prophet being what it is, those quoted may have been making the argument that the decision for two films was not exclusively a financial one.

    I have no gripe with that.

  14. Of course it’s a financial decision to make two movies out of DH. Everything in Hollywood is a financial decision. Everything.

    This is a case where the right financial decision also happens to be the right artistic decision. I’m sure there is substantial relief in certain quarters that this is the case.

    Hey, if *you* were investing $200+ million in a risky endeavor, wouldn’t you want to have some assurance that you might get it back? Remember, it’s show *business* — not “show art.”

    Now, within the playground of, say, 5 hours and that $200 million, we’ll hope that the story can shine through as it should.

    But the money drives the decision. Always. Always. Not the art.

  15. Ah Snape’s worst memory, the Marauder’s map and other backstory issues!

    I remember an interview where a scriptwriter, or a director made the point that a cinema audience is so much in the present as they experience the film that they simply do not carry that much information from one moment to the next. Introducing complexities that do not bear directly on the present action just dilutes the impact of what is being experienced.

    David Yates did cast a young Lilly and filmed the whole memory. He even said that the actress was very good and he hopes to be able to use her in the future (he also filmed Harry destroying Dumbledore’s office and was not happy with how it worked in the film)

    The problem to my mind is that if we saw the whole memory it makes two points. That James is an arrogant bully and that Lilly, who is not yet in a relationship with James, stands up for Snape and gets called a mudblood for her pains. The viewer is likely to lose the main point the film wants to make – James is an arrogant bully, as the revelation that Snape was horrible to Lilly follows fast on its heels. The power of Harry having his illusions about his father shattered would be diluted or lost completely.

    In the last film we will be able to revisit that memory and see the whole episode, and with the benefit of more context ,ie that Snape and Lilly were friends – thus making his calling her a mudblood all the more poignant. To me this makes a lot of sense.

    As for the marauders, they are identified in the third film at about half a dozen points but only obliquely and only to those who have read the book. The marauders are further identified in films 4 and 5 but again ever so discreetly. I will not go into detail as this is not the place.

  16. As far as I can tell from the perspective of storytelling, none of the other books could have sustained a break in the middle of it. DH can, and I think the break should come somewhere around The Silver Doe. It gives Harry another near miss with Voldemort at Godric’s Hollow to stand as the dramtic climax. Much of hte material from Silver Doe can serve as the denouement for Part I.

    Janet, I defer to your insider’s perspective on Hollywood, but if it were just about the dollars, that would have been a fine argument for splitting GoF and OotP. There was plenty of material for two movies in both those books. But I do think the writers and producers are right: much of what was deleted for GoF and OotP could be deleted. The story still worked in film … and there was no sensible break-point in the narrative of those two books to divide into separate films. Had they made two films of each, it might not have made sense artistically, but it would have brought in many more dollars (and euros, etc.)

    But there isn’t a lot that can be deleted from DH. Some things will be deleted, but the whole story line is too much for a single film. There isn’t any other way.

    BTW, John, I disagree with your assessment of The Silver Doe as the single best chapter. My nod goes to “The Forest Again.” Heart in my throat, tears about to fall every single step of the way.


  17. I second TrudyK’s motion for “The Forest Again” as the single best chapter. Definitely, the most emotional, if nothing else. My favorite scene, in fact, is Narcissa Malfoy asking Harry in a whisper if Draco is alive and then lying to Voldemort in affirming Harry’s death. I believe this is the moment where the Slytherin/Gryffindor contrary begins its resolution and then later affirmed by the Malfoy family’s presence in the Great Hall after the battle. I did not expect it to happen this way and it was incredibly satisfying to me. I know many feel that the Epilogue points to its final resolution in the future with the children of Harry’s generation, but I believe it’s beginnings were in “The Forest Again.” but I digress from the main point of this thread . . .

  18. I agree that ending after Ron’s return would be a good place to stop if they do not want to end on a cliff-hanger. However, I figure that they will have a cliff-hanger ending. Probably the first movie ends with the arrival of the Death-Eaters at the tent when they capture the trio.

    Silver Doe is my favorite chapter, too.

    “Silver Doe” is about how to live a worthy life: be remorseful and face your flaws, destroy them (with the sword with its Cross-shaped hilt) and become a better person with a handy Christ figure (Harry) urging you on to discern truth from lies.

    You have the sinner, Ron, then comforted by the Christ figure, Harry. Harry sits down, as a dear friend, tells Ron he is valued, tells him he was missed, tells him that he has redeemed himself, and brings him back to the shelter of the tent.

    If Ron’s return is delayed to the second movie, the theology of it may get divided too.

    Therefore, in the first movie, Ron’s Dumbledore gift of light is truly understood and used and so is Hermione’s gift from Dumbledore, of wisdom from her book.

    Harry’s gift will be explored in the final movie. “The Forest Again” is about how to face death. We all have to take that walk into the forest at the end of our lives.

  19. Personally, I hope they release it on DVD and Itunes if they split it up. Who wants to wait on the second part like LOTR, since the HP series is a series in itself. I think it is for money, if anything else. We were all fine with the condensing of the other films, why start now. There is no literary reason to split it up I can see. But I guess it does not matter, we don’t count.

  20. Arabella Figg says

    I guess my feelings are mixed. I was not happy with the OotP film, it was waaaaay too stripped down. They wasted precious time making Harry’s letter from the Ministry a Howler and then horribly skimped on Harry’s dad and Snape, etc. One of the most complex books, just danced through on tippytoes and the shortest, to boot.

    So I do think it’s all about the money. Why take such care only on the very last book? Let’s squeeze all the bucks we can out of Potter, it’s the last time we can.

    Dividing it will allow for more leisurely storytelling. But will people who haven’t read the books, but see the films, remember the the first part by the time the second shows? Will the narrative thread stay unbroken, without symbolism lost? I have my doubts.

    My favorite chapters were The Silver Doe, the forest, the one where Dobby died, King’s Cross and the Epilogue (don’t have the book handy).

    To kitties, a narrative arc is where a mouse leaps and they catch it…

  21. Hermiroby says

    I really enjoyed reading all your comments and reviews — I agree with the analysis, and had already “voted online” for the “Silver Doe” as the stopping point. If they “have to have a cliffhanger” they can stop where the DE’s are coming after saying “V’s” name.

    I have always had “issues” with the movies versus the books. In fact, I read the first book because my nephew (who had read the book and seen the movie) INSISTED I must read the book before seeing the movie. I did, and I agree if you want to know the full story. My DH (Darling Husband) hasn’t read the books, and really needed the full post-movie updates from the books in Movies 3-5.

    And the actors … I’ve always felt that Gambon only expresses part of Dumbledore’s character, and does not provide the full depth and breadth and subtlties of humor, tenderness, power and weakness that the character deserves. I tried searching for reviews/criticims on this point on the various HP sites and could not find much — any suggestions where to read more about this?

    I also agree that Dan is looking and acting more mature than the Harry character – but his acting has improved so much I’m hoping he can carry it off. Rupert seems fully capable of fulfilling the character of Ron but the writing in the movies has never allowed it — so I agree with the post above that I hope they’ll let him mature. And poor Hermione has been written in the movies as so one-dimensional that I don’t think Emma has had much chance or Direction to create a full-Hermione character — I think she’s capable, but the Director’s seem to keep her “flat.”

    Can anyone suggest where here, or on other HP sites I could read more about the interpretation of the Directors and the actors of their parts in the Movies? Thanks for everything you all say here – I do enjoy you all!

  22. chrystyan says

    I think it could be divided after the Godric Hollow graveyard scene (pointing to the scripture that JKR says the series hinges upon). The first part could end where Harry and Hermione escape Voldemort from Bathilda’s home. The scene would be very intense where Harry and Voldemort share thoughts/experiences of what happened to each of them when a split of Voldemort’s soul was left upon Harry and Voldemort was left undone. Stopping the scene here would augment the scene of Voldemort in limbo when Harry dies as a result of Avada Kedavra and the backfired curse (again). Neither can die while the other survives.

  23. IF DH is going to be filmed over the whole of 2009, why could parts 1 & 2 not be released within a few months of each other in 2010? Wouldn’t a Thanksgiving/Christmas tandem be incredible????

    Oh, I know….she’s dreaming again.

  24. I just learned (probably late to the party, but whatever) that the movies are currently scheduled to be released six months apart. To this I say, bummer. Maybe they’re planning on releasing part one on DVD a month before part two comes out, but regardless, I would prefer only about two months apart. That’s not based on any movie or money logic, just my own impatience, but seeing as they don’t consult me anyway, I can be a bit whiny and impatient, lol.

    On a different note, again late to the party (of this discussion), I doubt they’d choose to end after Silver Doe, because it’s too neat an ending– that is, we have to leave them in some horribly desperate situation. That way, even if some people don’t really like the movie, they feel like they have to see the next part. Plus suspense always creates excitement.


  25. Puffy Griffinclaw says

    Movie-making is a business, it is not about art. Publishing is a business, it is not about art. Now the writing of books, that is the art. Lucky for us that there is a wide diversity of readers so that everything from Captain Underpants to Umberto Eco can get published. I don’t think we get as broad a spectrum across movies, where we go from Captain Underpants to Spiderman. Well, I exaggerate the examples, but I believe the point is valid.

    With regard to the HP movies, they are not the books and they are only a visual slice of the story, an interpretation. I think we have to get over the fact that they won’t be “true” to the books and let them stand on their own, if they can. Since I’ve read all the books endlessly, I can’t judge the movies from a context-less point of view, but I suspect that the movie-story-line is enough to hold the non-reader-movie-viewer’s attention and make sense or the Box Office would not be so robust. I personally found the IMAX version of OOTP to be an audio-visual thrill, regardless of my mourning the absence of the “full scope and tragedy of the thing”.

    I am in the more-or-less Silver Doe camp vis a vis Parts 1 and 2. I can see 11 parts in each (kind of like 11 sickles/galleon). Part 1: Dursleys Departed, 7 Potters, Wedding, Tottenham Court Rd, 12 Grimauld, MOM, Forests, GodricsHollow, Silver Doe, Xeno/3 Brothers, Capture. Part 2: Malfoy Manor, Shell Cottage/Dobby’s Red Grave, Gringotts, Hogshead Revisited, Diadem in Fyre, Battle of HW, Prince’s Tale, Forest Again, Kings Cross, Golden Duel, Epilogue. I think they have to include the Xeno/3 Brothers in Part 1 so that viewers don’t walk out burping popcorn and thinking, “What the heck IS a Deathly Hallow? Did I fall asleep again?!” Breaking off with the capture by the baddies leaves viewers hankering to see how they get out of that mess. Maybe I’m a snob, but I just can’t see movie viewers (who haven’t read the books) grasping more than the surface of Hallows vs Horcruxes, much less any deeper meaning. Do people go to movies for deeper meaning? Not enough to earn $4.5 billion.

    The movies are great fun and I truly adore them. But they are brain candy. Compare it to liking both fudge and broccoli…fudge is fun but it won’t feed you. Was the decision to make DH in two parts financially motivated? Yes, but why should that make it any less fudgy?


  26. PG,

    You had me until you compared books to broccoli – if I got the analogy right. I preferred your earlier analogy: the broad spectrum covered by books.

    And I do think people can get deeper meaning from movies, given a great script, a talented director, and good acting. Movie making is big business, considering the investment of money, but it can also produce art. There are too many examples to count.

    I do agree with you in principle that movies are not books (how could one disagree!) and that the movies of HP don’t need to be “true” to the books but stand on their own. But since the movies and the books are so similar in this case, it’s only to be expected that the lovers of the books want a more exact match than would be practical, workable or even successful, given the difference in the mediums.

    I do think you’re being a little biased, thinking the viewer who hasn’t read the books can’t capture the deeper meaning of the story. The scene in the Forest was made to be filmed, as was King’s Cross, as was Dobby’s grave, as was Godric’s Hollow. They will work even better on the screen, with the benefit of music, and facial expressions and gestures (hope the actors are up to it!), and the visuals. Those scenes are so potently potentially photogenic that I sometimes wonder if JKR wrote them with the eventual filming in mind.

    And as for the distinction between the Hallows and the Horcruxes, well, any confusion over those two closely linked concepts I will attribute to the author and not the medium. I don’t agree with her decision to introduce two such similar story-organizing devices in consecutive books. If the scriptwriter can manage to keep them distinct, my hat’s off to him. And you know what – heresy of heresies – I think the story could be told without the Hallows. I mean, the resurrection stone and the invisiblity cloak are already there as Horcruxes. The only missing piece is the Elder Wand, which is also already there. Just add that Dumbledore’s wand is unusually powerful and has interesting attributes and, Bob’s your uncle, you’ve covered all the major plot points.

  27. Correction: the invisibilty cloak is definitely not a Horcrux. But it is there and has been since the beginnning, so no introduction needed.

  28. Arabella Figg says

    Now, Reyhan, I love love love broccoli; brussels sprouts, too. So I’m not pulling a face at Puffy Griffinclaw’s contrast. Actually I like both better than fudge (too sweet–give me pure chocolate!).

    I liked the 11 parts of each in dividing DH, too. PG has a very organized mind. But, even though I prefer the books, I don’t see the films as brain candy for those who haven’t read them as they contain very potent points.

    I don’t feel the Horcruxes and Hallows were too similar. In a very simplistic way, the Horcruxes were about how long you lived corporeally. The Hallows were about how you lived in spirit. The struggle Harry endured choosing to pursue one over the other was a defining character motif in the book. And the Hallows had serious WizWordl historical significance, where the Horcruxes had temporary (LV’s “lives” were going to run out at some point) and tawdry personal significance.

    If kitties chose a Hallow, it would be the Invisibility Cloak…

  29. Arabella,

    No one has ever spoken more eloquently on the subject of broccoli than the 41st president:

    ” do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli”

    About the distinction between the Horcruxes and the Hallows. I think that Harry’s struggle ended up with him choosing to go after the Horcruxes – and thereby finish the mission that Dumbledore set him. So I’m not sure what that would say about the bodily/spiritual qualities of each.

    I think that both the Horcurxes and Hallows are about mastering death. Voldemort distributes his soul amongst the Horcruxes so that the chances of his being totally destoyed become small. And legend tells that the person who unites the three Hallows will master death. But it turns out that the only way to master death is to accept it, and thereby transcend it. So both sets of objects are doomed to fail, at least literally.

    I think that both sets of objects reflect one of the major themes of the stories: transcending death. I still don’t understand why JKR had to build both. If I had to venture a guess, I’d guess that after HBP, and knowing what was to come in DH, she still wasn’t satisfied that she’d expressed everything she needed to say about death. She had to add one more teaching story, one more symbol (three actually), one more metaphor about death. And realizing that three entirely new objects would be too much for even the most accepting reader to swallow entire, “nested” the “new” objects inside existing objects: the cloak, one Horcrux, and Dumbledore’s wand.

  30. Arabella Figg says

    Ah, Reyhan, I do remember 41’s statement and lauging hilariously. The leader of the free world sounded like such a toddler! “I’m president and I won’t eat broccoli! No, no, no!”

    I like Savoy cabbage too–I am Arabella! But these veggies must be properly and crisply cooked. However many don’t care for these vegetables.

    I agree with your Horcrux/Hallows argument. I was just took a different “diagonal” perspective. But my agreement stops after the first sentence of your last paragraph. Rowling hasn’t spoken on this, so we can’t know her intent. Certainly the Hallows aren’t specifically alluded to in the first six books. We know about Harry’s cloak, that Dumbldore held back from dueling Grindelwald until it was almost too late (the wand) and learned in HBP about the ring/Horcrux, but not what it was.

    So Rowling seeded the Hallows, but didn’t develop them until DH. Perhaps you are right. Time will tell. I wonder how the filmmakers will handle this critical and commanding issue of death.

    Kitties don’t like broccoli either, so what do I know?…

  31. Arabella,

    That is a very good question: how the scriptwriter and director will handle the issue of death.

    Well, one hopes, and better than well, that they can convey the central and critical role of that issue in the story. That it doesn’t become a side-issue to the pyrotechnics of the Battle of Hogwarts (my fear) or the final duel with Voldemort. The emotional heart of the book (and the series) is the walk in the Forest and the meeting at King’s Cross, and it would be a lame rendering which couldn’t make that clear.

    On the positive side, they have at their disposal the medium of images, and those can really help make the point, even better than words in the right hands.

    On the negative side, I was not too impressed with the duel between Harry and Voldemort in GoF; the spirits who were released as a result of the priori incantem didn’t really seem very “spiritual”. I’m hoping that Harry’s walk in the Forest will have a stronger sense of destiny and tragedy. And on a really negative note, a lot of the impact of King’s Cross will depend on the abilty of the actor playing Dumbledore to convey a mass of emotion: pride, love, regret, shame, sorrow and hope. Given the player, my expectations are low.

    Final note: I am not suggesting that my interpretation of the Horcruxes/Hallows overlay is the correct one. It’s only a guess. Perhaps time will tell, as you say.

    Obi went out to play in the sun yesterday and now her ears are sunburnt …

  32. Puffy Griffinclaw says

    Reyhan, you make some interesting observations about JKR. But I wonder if she is really guilty of writing intensely visual scenes because she envisions their later filming. She seems to use vivid visual portraits very often, and I thought it was because visual is such a strong sense, an often overpowering sense. She writes in a way that allows us to see the scene; and this effect has become more noticeable since the actual movies give us a visual framework for “picturing” the scenes that she describes in the later books. But I’m not sure that using strong visual imagery should be translated as “written for the screen.”

    I don’t dislike movies, and agree that there are and have been many with artistic merit. I just don’t think the there is a big box office for artistic merit, so usually the art must be accompanied by some spin that sells (big name actors, big name others). If we are lucky, the big names have big talent and we all win. Alas, we are not always lucky.

    Arabella, I liked your description of the Horcruxes in statistical terms, that by dividing the soul and hiding it in multiple vessels, Voldemort tries to reduce the probability of death by sustaining some continuing thread of mortal life. As DD told him, there are things worse than death, but old Voldy never gets that. And by stringing out his soul across numerous objects, he dies in eight separate little pieces, experiencing over and over that very thing he most feared. Gotcha, Voldy.

    Thinking some more about the Hallows, I don’t really see the power which the legend suggests can come from uniting them. The 3 Brothers legend has an undertone, that the eldest brother and middle brother were combative and arrogant toward Death, and although Death gave them the “prizes” they sought, those prizes did not keep them away from Death but actually brought them more quickly to Death than otherwise might have been. The youngest, humble brother only wishes to be unseen by Death, so Death “most unwillingly” gives him his own cloak. The story itself does not suggest uniting the Hallows. Xeno says, “those of us who understand these matters” know the power of uniting the three Hallows. DD confirms the legend of uniting them, but again, that seems to be some later interpretation and not essentially of the story itself. What am I missing?

    Although Harry is tempted to pursue the Hallows, he does not. Yet eventually, all three come into his possession. The Elder Wand he uses not in combat but for healing (repairing his own wand). The Resurrection Stone he uses for strength (to bring back those who will help him walk into Death without faltering). Both of these are be one-time uses. Harry seems to understand that more than that will not heal or strengthen but will hurt and weaken him. But he understands what DD says is the true magic of the cloak, that is, that it can be used to protect others. He has used it so from the start back in the Sorcerer’s Stone. So what is the magic or chemistry of uniting the three to master Death? Doesn’t Harry master death, i.e. accept it, face on, by throwing off the cloak? While the Stone certainly gave him strength, he has in the past found the strength of those he loved within himself…could he have made the walk without the Stone?

    Maybe the final clue is that in Kings Cross, Harry makes another choice, and that is the choice to go back to living, living with an intensity and purpose (to take Voldemort out). And when he makes that choice, does the world look a little more golden, perhaps a sign of ultimate transformation?

    Sorry to make a bad attempt at an alchemical pun, but aren’t the Hallows, or at least the uniting of them, a Red Herring?

    Didn’t Harry have the one true Hallow all along, the cloak; the Hallow that allows you to live fully with purpose and coexist with Death, to meet Death on your own terms. It’s almost like Ignotus Peverell, in taking the cloak from Death, disarmed Death…expelliarmus, the beginning and the end.

    Puffy Griffinclaw

  33. ChildofImmanuel says

    In regards to the missing Dobby, marauders, etc, I think it would have been better if Hollywood could have waited for the series to be finished before they made the movies. Then they would have known what was important to include. Rowling kept reminding us that Dobby was there and ever-so-slightly developing his character, until he reached his critical scene.

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