'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows': Do the films stand on their own?
The cinematic versions of 'Harry Potter' lack the 'oomph' of the books. Film critics say some have been too derivative. Potter fans say they aren't faithful enough.
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This particular issue has bedeviled some of the first six Harry Potter films, because in addition to being a coming-of-age serial tale, it’s also an unfolding mystery. “It’s hard to know if you are deleting something really important if you don’t know for sure where the story is headed,” points out Greg Garrett, author of “One Fine Potion: The Literary Magic of Harry Potter.”Skip to next paragraph
Which plot points, characters, and even whole subplots to trim or weave into a screenplay is a challenge for any director who takes on a well-known book. Despite the fact that it won a best picture Oscar, there are still LOTR fans who can’t forgive Jackson for completely excising a loved secondary character, Tom Bombadil from the first film. The LOTR franchise itself benefited greatly from having a single creative vision for all three films, notes Rob Weiner, an associate librarian at the Texas Tech University Library.
Ms. Rowling reportedly encouraged screenwriters on the sixth film to retain the cranky house elf, Kreacher, because he would be important to the final film. These are the sort of potential missteps that can tarnish the films for even the most generous book and movie lovers.
“They just had to start leaving out so many important things,” he says via cell phone between an art class and study hall. He insists he is not one of those book-purists who wants everything to stay the same when a written work moves to the screen. The 12-year-old Mr. Carstens says he understands the difference and actually “pretty much likes most of the movies.” But, he says, when they lose important themes, not just little details, then that makes the overall film worse.
Carstens points to the fourth book, “Goblet of Fire,” in which two characters, Dobby the house elf – who is also critical to the final book – and Cedric Diggory help Harry in key moments. But, he says, when the fourth film came out, the elf is completely gone, and Diggory’s role in aiding Harry is greatly underemphasized.
This, he adds, is more than just losing a costume detail or eye color (many fans complained that Harry Potter’s eye color in the book was green, while Daniel Radcliffe’s eyes are blue). “People helping each other in hard times is an important part of the book’s message and they shouldn’t have cut it out,” he says.