HBP Film Screening: Major Changes from Book?

These reviews from a film screening in Chicago are all spoilers, of course. If you don’t want to learn about this movie, don’t click on the link or read the comments boxes below. I suspect the changes in the Tower scene alone and the decisions made about the funeral are going to have several All Pros upset. Remember, please; “the movies are just trailers for the books.”

(HT/LOONy Linda; thanks!)


  1. UPSET!! UPSET!! Why should we be UPSET?? 🙂

    Just kidding. Still, while I don’t expect the movies to be literal renditions of the books, I kind of like them to not go too hog wild on their ‘creativity.’ Why muck around with things that don’t need to be changed or that can be portrayed like they are in the book? Why change character motivations or actions?

  2. John, I didn’t read the review above before commenting but I did read some reviews over at The Leaky Cauldron from someone else who had attended the sneak preview.

    But the review you linked to is instructive. If a person who has only read HBP once or twice & hasn’t read it in awhile can notice so many differences between the book & movie, then what’s going on with the film? And if such a person, from a half remembered reading of the book, can still tell that how the book did it seemed more natural & helpful than how the movie portrays it, then what does that say?

    I think it bodes ill for the movie. And it does sound, from reading the review at Leaky, that the level of script writing has gone down in this film. Which especially becomes worrisome if bad writing is combined with the acting of a miscast character, which said character is pretty integral to the whole story. Plus, it sounds like they botched the Half Blood Prince & Snape aspect of it, too.

    On the other hand, apparently the acting of the young Tom Riddle & of Tom Felton is excellent.

  3. “I don’t understand why they moved Harry off the Tower. Harry needs to have an unobstructed view, as does the camera, to make that scene the horror that it is. And no battle at the school? How does Bill Weasley get ripped by Greyback? No funeral? Less Voldemort and a lot of ‘shipping?”

    Those were my gripes after reading the first review. Then I took a few deep breaths and started laughing. “Really, John, get a grip. You probably won’t even go to the movie — and whatever they do to the story it will create new Harry Potter fans.”

    Still, it sounds like the film makers have been given more license than before, for good or ill. Did you read the reviews, Rev. George?

  4. Geez. You know, I have actually lessened my by-nature obsession with film accuracy (to their source books or history), but this sounds beyond the pale. Ridiculous– now, if only that spell would work, and we could just ditch all the bad stuff. I understand cutting down, but changing major plot points? :-\


  5. Wow, I was looking forward to this film, and the first thing I saw about the screening at TLC sounded more positive. But no battle, Death Eaters just walking out, and no funeral for Dumbledore? What is WB thinking? And did Jo really approve this script and all these changes or does she just not care anymore?

    Of course, maybe WB has been listening to all the fans who are unhappy with Gambon’s previous performance and figure we wouldn’t mind seeing him go and wouldn’t want to see his funeral. Well, once again, they are cutting out the ending of the movie that has the strongest Christian visual elements. Perhaps that’s the reason for always cutting that out. (Just watched OP on HBO the other day and kept waiting for Fawkes to swoop in and devoure the snake, which of course didn’t happen. *sigh*)

    I know when I read HBP, I found all the teen romance to be pretty funny. I made the mistake of saying that on a forum and thoroughly offended some of the teens who thought it was great and wanted more. So it sounds like we know who the target audience is, and it’s not anyone under 11 or over 18. Go figure.

    I had high hopes for this movie, but now I guess I’ll go just to say that I did, and try not to have any expectations at all. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more that way.

    The thing is, if they leave all this out of HBP, then they won’t have the proper set-ups for Deathly Hallows, even if they are doing it as two movies.

    I’m glad to hear that Broadbent is good as Slughorn, though.

    Pat, more than a little disappointed

  6. Just imagine if we were getting this report *before* the book release of DH.

    Remember the theories in “WKAD” about how Harry was being used as a movie camera to broadcast Dumbledore’s execution to Voldemort? And now the movie isn’t bothering to set up the camera? Don’t they know how critical it is? (Big chuckle.)

    I also read some comments from one of the Mugglenet staff who had seen the screening – didn’t seem upset at all. In fact, talked about what a terrific film it is so far. So maybe they’ve managed to make that scene work, somehow. After all, those mugglenet folks are rabid when it comes to changing darn near anything from the books.


  7. I agree with Eeyore. How on earth do they think this is going to go over well? First the delay, then Radcliffe in the buff, and now this? Ugh. I’ll still see it, but I will probably hate it. When I saw OOTP, I was worried that they would ruin Dumbledore’s death scene just like they did Sirius’s, and I want to be sad at Dumbledore’s death. Have they no sense of dramatics? I never weep at films and especially not while reading books, but the tower and the stunned aftermath just reduce me to tears every time I read it. And they have Kloves back, and Yates did really well directing OOTP. It could be so good . . .

    Adam is disappointed.

  8. The trailer was so good, too.

  9. I had one All-Pro write me, a former Harry-Hermione shipper, to say that knowing that the film puts a great deal of emphasis on the boy-girl love scenes just opens up the wounds consequent to the way Ms. Rowling botched the HP6 book release. Three years later.

    I hadn’t thought about that.

  10. Well I guess it will be DVD for me. And you all know I don’t focus on all of the shipping by now. But cutting the ending or the beginning would be catastophic. Of course they would cut the Christian meaning, think Disney movies like Narnia. I was really disappointed in the third film, and boy was that a botched movie.

  11. I have read and heard wonderful things about the HBP movie and I have read and discounted the negative responses ‘cos my cup is half full and I ‘choose’ to enjoy the movies !

  12. That’s the spirit!

  13. Hmmmm…I am surprisingly at peace with the Chicago-screening reviews. Why?
    For one, now I don’t have to chew my nails in anticipation of HBP on the Big Screen!
    And two, perhaps Warner Brothers will take a second/third/fourth look at the botched-up mess they have on their hands and take the next few months to rectify a few glaring errors. If not, then I’m not losing sleep over what the cinematic-powers-that-be have chosen to do to Rowling’s work.
    Too bad the studio didn’t put out a survey on the more widely followed blogs (HogPro being at the top of my list) to get a better measure of what the Potter fandom might be looking for in movie 6. Let’s hope movies 7 & 8 are so true to the text that we could cite page/paragraph at any given scene! Uh-huh, yeah…right ;-/
    Surely pre-release screenings are meant to be productive exercises in measuring the public’s response and future profits. I have long ago decided that the HP movies are poor reflections of their texted origins, not to be taken seriously nor aligned with the books beyond minimal comparison…but we still like them.
    PJ, thinking we can’t be any more disappointed than Mr. Vander Ark today.

  14. esoterica1693 says

    I am most upset that they changed the conjured chalice in the Cave scene to a shell. It was visualizing that chalice on my first reading of HBP that made the penny drop for me that yes, Jo was using explicit Christian imagery and themes in the book(s). Knowing that the potion is poison, AD is pouring himself out, drinking the cup, etc. But a shell? Of course w/ Harry being totally immersed in the water by the inferi, rather than just grabbed, added to the shell, maybe they’re changing from Eucharistic to Baptismal imagery?

    I have a piece of Flair on my Facebook page: “Snape didn’t kill Dumbledore. Michael Gambon did.” Then Jo piled on, in DH, and apparently Kloves is having a go at him now. My poor Albus! :-/

  15. esoterica1693 wrote:

    I have a piece of Flair on my Facebook page: “Snape didn’t kill Dumbledore. Michael Gambon did.”

    Oh My! are revgeorge, Red Rocker and Travis going to have fun with THAT quote! LOL!

    Really ladies and gents, we all knew that WB is going to disappoint, botch up, and leave out KEY elements from HBP “the book” to the movie version.

    I’m with John on his point, “Remember, please; “the movies are just trailers for the books.”

    So, next July we will do our best to enjoy the 2 1/2 hour TRAILER to HBP “the book”!

  16. david,

    I read esoterica’s comment & restrained myself from saying, Alleluia! I’m trying to cut back on the Gambon bashing. Is there a support group for that? 🙂

    Anyway, as regards the movies, I don’t expect them to be literal, verbatim translations of the books. I certainly recognize the use of creative license & of conflating things for the sake of time. But I do expect the films to get the spirit of the books & the personality & motivations of the characters right! I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

    That was my big issue with Jackson’s LOTR trilogy. I thought he totally missed the characterization of so many characters. Everyone basically became doubt riddled cowards who had to be shamed into acting heroic & noble.

    Similar reason as to why I disliked the Lion, Witch, & Wardrobe remake. Edmund’s not a bad kid because of his modern schooling which has basically taught him to act as if he’s his own little god. No, he just misses his daddy. (gag) I saved myself a lot of pain by skipping the Prince Caspian movie, especially since I heard they screwed around with the characterization there, too. I’m sure in Voyage of the Dawn Treader they will totally miss Eustace’s characterization.

    So, adaptations good. Bad adaptations not good. Bad adaptations when they should know better & have the capability of doing it right, extremely not good.

  17. David, you and John are so right.

    And from the mouth of babes: this summer my eldest grandchild suggested we re-read the series together–out loud–during our visits in future. Sounds like a plan to me. He likes the movies, but enjoys the books more, and has determined that his little sister won’t be able to go with us to see 6,7 & 8 due to the intensity of the screen violence and LV’s intimidating presence (“Too scary for Sis”).

    No mention from him of the hormonal interactions in 6…so I wonder if WB is choosing to bank on the teen-idol personas of Radcliff/Watson/Grint over the integrity of the text. (Like a Harry Potter movie isn’t going to line the studio’s coffers?).

    A question: If JKR was so determined to keep SVA from publishing a DETAILED (and most likely, spot-on) lexicon of all-things-Potter, why has she allowed WB to distort her work on screen?

  18. david, I have no words left to mourn Gambon’s assassination of Dumbledore. And to tell you the truth, I’m not too optimistic about Radcliffe’s performance either – he was pretty good as an 11 year old Harry, but doesn’t seem to have the ability to potray a convincing, let alone compelling, older Harry.

    The net result is, my expecatations are very, very low.

    Approaching the reviews of HBP from that perspective, I can tease out a few grains of hope. Not all the changes sound bad.

    *** For those of you who haven’t read the reviews at the link, spoilers follow:***

    The idea of having Harry follow the action on top of the Astronomy Tower through a crack in the floor rather than under the invisibility cloak is not a bad idea. Think about it. If Harry’s under the cloak, we can’t see his face, and we can’t follow his emotions. He’s effectively removed from the scene.

    And then again, why not have Snape caution him to wait, and Harry “uncharacteristically” listen? Consider the alternative: Gambon telling him to wait? In his usual commading manner? I’d rather have Rickman, thank you.

    And along the same lines, Snape tells Harry quietly that he’s the Prince, rather than shrieks it at him. I actually think that telling would work better than shrieking, especially if it’s a very talented actor. And I always thought that JKR didn’t get the tone of that scene quite right: she made Snape uncharacteristically shrill.

    As for no one mourning Dumbledore’s death: what can I say? Some have said they would cheer the event because it would mean no more Gambon (well, much less Gambon). I somehow don’t think extrvagant onscreen mourning would resonate too deeply with me.

    Small comfort, yes. Especially if the script has really dissolved the thread of continuity wihch must carry us from HBP through DH. And I am totally not into the shipping stuff. But maybe it’s not as bad, or it’s less bad, than it seems at a first reading.

  19. revgeorge,

    Tell me how that support group works for you. As I said above, I have no words left to disparage Gambon with. I’ll be cruising online dictionaries, trying to find new ones.

  20. I am a very late arrival to all things Harry Potter. (Just read the books and watched the movies for the first time this summer.) So there’s a couple of things I have to ask. First, what is “shipping”? Second, in John’s comment about a former Harry-Hermione “shipper,” you mention old wounds because of the way JKR botched the release of HP6. Can you tell me more about what that’s referring to?

    I’m sure these are only the first of many questions. (By the way, Professor, immediately after finishing up reading the HP books themselves, I read Looking for God in Harry Potter. Loved it!)

  21. RobinG, shipping refers to the in story romances, i.e. who’s going to end up with who. Ron/Hermione. Harry/Ginny. Lupin/Tonks. And various numerous others. Up until HBP there was a fair few people who were Harry/Hermione shippers but HBP put that to rest, in canon at least.

    As for the offense given by JKR botching the release, or I think it was the follow up, to HBP, there was an interview she did with Emerson Spartz & Melissa Anelli, the founders of Mugglenet & Leaky Cauldron respectively. Spartz went off on Harry/Hermione shippers calling them delusional & saying that everyone could see Harry/Ginny coming a mile away so delusional & stupid might be appropriate to call the H/G shippers. While JKR herself, I don’t think, didn’t call H/H shippers delusional, she sort of went along with what Spartz was saying.

    That’s the best I can remember of what happened.

  22. Sorry, delusional & stupid to call the Harry/Hermione shippers, not the H/G shippers. Sorry. 🙂

  23. Folks, Dumbledore’s death will not eliminate him from the films any more than he already has. I would expect they would cast Gambon as Dumbledore’s brother too (they have to look really similar).

    Is it not possible that hidden behind the delay in the film there is the possibility that they realized they had really dropped the ball given the response to the pre-screenings? I mean, they’re not shooting DH yet, so they could feasibly rework a few key elements in a week or two.

    Additionally, and please pardon my heresy, I have enjoyed Gambon as Dumbledore. Sure, we all miss Richard Harris, but I found Gambon to be enjoyable as a replacement. He reveals some of the power in Dumbledore that was completely not there in Harris’s performance.

  24. Since we’re talking heresy, strictly speaking, they don’t have to cast Aberforth as an old man: the backstory could be told through flashback.

    It is possible that the producers might be revisiting the original cut, and reworking a few key elements. They might be adding more snogging, for example, out of a fear that they haven’t catered enough to their chief demographic: teen-age girls?!?

    BTW, I for one don’t miss Harris as much as I un-miss Gambon. Harris does a fine job – but until I saw Gambon I would have bet that any stage-trained British actor of a certain age could do a convincing Dumbledore. I’ve since revised it to: almost any stage-trained British actor. But Chosen66, you have done something which Gambon was unable to do in three movies: you have combined his name with the word “power”.

  25. Thanks for the explanation, revgeorge!

  26. PJ here, taking a brief moment away from monitoring Hurricane Ike’s progress as it bears down on loved ones in Texas…

    Red Rocker, did you forget that in DH, Aberforth IS an old man at the time of the Battle at Hogwarts? I had almost forgotten myself. No matter…makeup artistry being what it is, anyone could become the infamous bar-keep. I hope the actor is someone who can deliver the complexity of character I believe Alberforth to be through the subtleties of both non-verbal and verbal performance. Camera direction and final editing not withstanding, of course!

    As for Dan Radcliff’s acting abilities…I have rather enjoyed his portrayal of Harry throughout the films. I find *Harry* to be genuinely believeable and as frustratingly dense as Jo presents him in the books. While I always watch the movies expecting more than my own imagination might deliver, I have yet to be disappointed in Screen Harry.

    Now, if we examine Screen Ron, I Have to say that the directors and script-writers have treated Rupert Grint’s character badly in movies 4 & 5. I hope he gets a reprieve in 6,7 & 8…not because of the hormonal issues, but because I think Ron’s conflictual behaviors (liking Hermione/snogging Lavender; glad to be Harry’s best mate/ jealous of being in Harry’s shadow) are reflective of the inner struggles that must be resolved before the three friends are freed-up to focus on The Final Battle…a sort of *Putting First Things First* analogy, if you please. Harry finding his identity as LV’s nemesis, Ron struggling to be his own man, and Hermione learning to be less rational and trust her instincts are integrated and vital to LV’s defeat; their journeys parallel, intersect, then combine beautifully to bring us to “mission accomplished” at LV’s demise.

    As for Screen Hermione; who has issues with this character development and her portrayer? Everyone seems to like Emma Watson. She translates to the screen well (easy on the eye, not too gawky) Honestly, can we say the same for Rupert (who, in my opinion, epitomized gawkiness in HP3,4,&5)? I don’t mean this in a bad way; his physicality was actually the most poignant component of Ron’s onscreen persona in those films. As outspoken and verbally demonstrative as Hermione is, I believe Emma brings her game to the ensemble and allows us to identify with Hermione as representative of *any one girl* in every viewer’s life. The directors and script-writers appear to have capitalized on Emma’s *every girl* appeal and kept her character to the forefront with perhaps movie 5 the exception. I guess the bottom line is that this is all *hollywood-ism* and fantasy, isn’t it?

    PJ, wishing Ike was make-believe and seeking your prayers.

  27. Arabella Figg says

    “It’s hard to believe people are making such a huge fuss over the delayed release of a film, about which they will then gripe, because it didn’t fulfull their expectations.”

    Quoth the prophet Arabella on a previous post.

    On each book we’ve had our own movie running in our heads, which no film can possibly live up to. That the films increasingly deviate from the books is a disappointment (see my previous complaints about the OotP film). By now, should we be surprised?

    Perhaps in the DH film, the baptismal pool will instead be an icy pond into which Harry and Ron dare each other to dive naked for the hand of Hermione. Harry wins, Ron takes up with Lavender again and Hermione disdains both, taking up magical dentistry. Ginny marries a chastened Draco. Snape lives to become that accountant in Ray-Bans (heh-heh). King’s Cross becomes the Dursley’s driveway and Voldemort turns out to be Aunt Petunia in drag. Harry defeats him by saying “Mom loved Lily best.”

    RobinG, the term “ship” comes from “relationship;” “shipping” has become the adjective form.

    As for descriptive terms for Gambon’s DD–how about “discombobulation”? I had so looked forward to the Dursley beginning scene in HBP, where Dumbledore takes that family down so winningly. Harris would have done it beautifully; Gambon? Shudder.

    For HBP and DH, I have a “whatever” feeling, which is too bad. I’ll see them, but, as John says, as Cliff-Notes trailers for the books. Too bad people see the films before the books, robbing them of the outstanding twists and shockers.

    Thudders wants my lap and my arms aren’t long enough to reach over him to type…

  28. pj, my point about Aberforth was that perhaps they will cut out his scenes, like they cut out Fleur and Bill and Charley. The information which he needs to bring to the story can be captured through flashbacks to the past. I’m not saying it would be ideal – quite the opposite, actually, because we’d miss on the skepticism and bitterness he brings to Harry’s Dumbledore-inspired quest – but it could be done. I have to stop trying to irony: it always backfires.

    Arabella,, I like dicombobulation, for example:

    The movie audience was completely dicombobulated by Gambon’s attempts to show Dumbledore’s power and authority by shrieking at the kids at the top of his voice.

  29. Oh….well then, that makes sense RR! Thank you for clarifying. As for irony? Yep, it gets me in hot water 50% of the time. Just gotta know your audience and best presented face-to-face 🙂

  30. Arabella Figg says

    Or, RR, the story was completely derailed by Gambon’s performance of Dumbledore as “kindly headmaster.”

    Nothing kindly about Fullatricks today who has derailed Flitquick’s intentions toward the sparkly ball…

  31. I think my comments would work better if I slowed down and made sure I typed all the letters in the words (insert red-faced emoticon here).

  32. I think that Harris and Gambon have brought out different sides of DD. For instance, there was no Gandalf-esque power to Harris’s performance, who excelled in the quiet, personal scenes (excelled? He soared is what he did), but did not have the authoritarian power we have seen in DD in the books since PoA.

    In contrast, Gambon has excelled at revealing the reason DD was the only wizard LV ever feared. Gambon’s performance is all power, and for that reason does well with commanding, but has stumbled severely when in the quiet, personal scenes, such as at the end of both 4 and 5. This may end up playing well, as at the mystical King’s Cross DD confesses that his greatest weakness has always been power.

  33. Arabella Figg says

    This morning (9-30) I read an interview excerpt with Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club and the novel on which the new film “Choke” is based. (I haven’t read this author.) An answer to one question, though, interested me in light of HP book>>film:

    Q. What do you look for when you watch a movie made of one of your books?

    A. I go in hoping I’ll be surprised that they’e done a whole bunch of different things, so that I don’t have to see every word of the book made manifest. Really, I’m hoping there will be a whole bunch of stuff there that I don’t know.

    I wonder if Rowling feels this way. And I wonder how this also applies to the authorial intent/canon discussion.

    You have cats, you have Fight Club 24/7…

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