The book is always better than the movie

So, Part 1 of Harry Potter and the deathly hallows has hit the movie screens in Australia and our very own David Stratton has panned it in The Australian today.  Much of his criticism seems to revolve around gaping plot holes that left the viewer unsure what was going on.  His most specific example of this is that Horcruxes are never explained satisfactorily in the movie.  Of course, if you’ve read the book this knowledge is there when you sit down to watch the movie.  Have the makers of this film really made the mistake of assumed knowledge of their audience?

This takes me back to conversations I have had with my children over the past few years about the vast quantity of events that have been left out of previous Harry Potter movies – with Bookworm wondering aloud only the other day how they could possibly hope to explain so much of Book 7 (Deathly hallows) when they had left so much crucial information out of the 6th movie (Half-blood Prince).  It seems her foreboding might be justified.

Stratton’s review isn’t the first one I’d heard about the newest Harry Potter.  I heard a review on the radio last night which said much the same thing.  In this instance the reviewer’s ignorance of the book was also revealed, when he questioned the point in the script where Harry says ‘I want to bury [Dobby] properly, without magic’.  This reviewer used it as an example of a confusing and unnecessary line in the script – when in fact it’s almost word for word from the book.  It was deemed to be a line that undid all the magic of the entire series and seemingly dismissed it as irrelevant and unimportant.  Interestingly, Stratton’s review also lamented that the film had ‘lost it’s magic’.

As a (generally speaking) non movie-goer but avid reader I am afraid I have never quite understood the point of movie adaptations of books, let alone how one goes about the process of creating a film script from an often complex and many faceted novel.  I get that a movie has to leave out details – mainly due to time constraints but also to improve or enhance our cinematic experience (or something – I did say I’m a non movie-goer didn’t I?).  Are movie adaptations designed to appeal to lovers of the book? Or are they meant to bring in an entirely new audience?  Given the assumptions I’ve already talked about in this post it would seem that the latter is not the case in this instance.

Will I go and see this film? Probably.  I do love the Harry Potter books and I’ve taken Young Gun to see all of the movies so far and while he is hoping to go with friends on the weekend, it won’t surprise me if I end up taking him.  I’m happy to do it.  Because it’s what we do as parents, not because I’m dying to see this film.

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One thought on “The book is always better than the movie

  1. I am terribly excited about seeing The Deathly Hallows tomorrow night! My whole family is going, continuing a tradition that we began with Order of the Phoenix (before that, hubby and I saw the movies sans kids, bought the DVD, and let the kids watch after we had read the book to them).
    Yes I know they will make a terrible mess of it and leave out heaps of stuff from the books but I DON’T CARE!!!
    Sometimes when I really, really love a book I just want to see it play out in front of me. I want to see the expressions on faces and the interactions between characters. I don’t want to just imagine it all.
    And if the movie doesn’t live up to the book, it just provides me with lots of conversation with other fans…”Can you believe they left out…What on earth were they thinking…”
    Fun!

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