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Monday, August 8, 2011

Harry Potter 7, Part 2: My Wife Speaks

Were any of you as disappointed as my wife was upon seeing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2? The movie, she felt, failed to portray many riches found in the book, especially how Harry’s final confrontation with Voldemort underscores Rowling’s chief theme of the power of sacrificial love. In Chapter 36 of the book, “The Flaw in the Plan,” we read:

“You won’t be killing anyone else tonight,” said Harry as they circled, and stared into each other’s eyes, green into red. “You won’t be able to kill any of them ever again. Don’t you get it? I was ready to die to stop you from hurting these people—”
“But you did not!”
“—I meant to, and that’s what did it. I’ve done what my mother did. They’re protected from you. Haven’t you noticed how none of the spells you put on them are binding? You can’t torture them. You can’t touch them. You don’t learn from your mistakes, Riddle, do you?” (p. 738)

None of this nuance is portrayed in the film. Instead, after Harry comes back to life, Voldemort is shown to be as strong as he ever was. The diminishment in his powers brought about by Harry’s sacrifice is passed over. True, Voldemort is accurately shown not to be the master of the Elder Wand. But it would have been a much more fitting ending, thematically, if the dialogue from the book quoted above would have been used. Too much time was taken up with Harry’s and Voldemort’s rather boring, and wholly invented, flying grappling match.

A blog I read pointed out that the film also fails to include Harry’s crucial plea for Voldemort to show remorse for the evil he has done:

         “But before you try to kill me, I’d advise you to think about what you’ve done….Think, and try for some remorse, Riddle….”
         “What is this?”
         Of all the things that Harry had said to him, beyond any revelation or taunt, nothing had shocked Voldemort like this. Harry saw his pupils contract to thin slits, saw the skin around his eyes whiten.
         “It’s your one last chance,” said Harry, “it’s all you’ve got left….I’ve seen what you’ll be otherwise….Be a man….try…Try for some remorse…” (p. 741).

Too bad these lines were left out: lines about how even the most corrupt person always has a chance to change his ways…about the meaning of genuine manhood.

“I’ve seen what you’ll be otherwise.” A reference to the  shriveled, damned soul of Voldemort whimpering in its torment which Harry sees at “King’s Cross.” The movie depicts Voldemort’s damned soul quite movingly. It would have done well to also employ Harry’s dialogue quoted above.

And don’t even get me started on what my wife had to say about how the film spoils the book’s portrayal of the true friendship that underwrites Ron and Hermione’s budding romance.

So, Potter fans, what did you think?

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely agree. Each time I re-read the scene in the book it astounds me more and more at the cleverness, the detail, the richness - it is classic. The movie replaced it with a cheap and silly, seen-it-all-before, Hollywood fight scene.