My Evaluation of the “Harry Potter” Books and Movies

A digital painting of a Venn diagram I made with the life side yellow, the middle orange, and right side red. The words from left to right: Books, Both, and Movies

I understand why most people prefer the “Harry Potter” books over the movies. They have more details, characters, character development, and much more. Examples include:

  • Backstories of different characters, especially the marauders (Sirius, James, Lupin, and Pettigrew)
  • SPEW (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare)
  • Peeves the poltergeist 

Sometimes, the events in the films could confuse people who never read the books. One notable example would be how Harry got to go to Hogsmeade in “The Order of the Phoenix,” despite being forbidden to go in “The Prisoner of Azkaban” since he never got his permission form signed by a parent or guardian, a mandate from Hogwarts.

While I enjoy the movies more than the novels at times, there are some moments that I like better in the books or think are fine either way. So, here they are.

What I liked better in the movies

Hagrid’s character 

Fans often compare Hagrid to a giant Teddy bear due to his kindness. But in the books, he has lost his temper many times, which displeases me, even if that’s a normal trait for giants and half-giants.

In the films, Hagrid is calmer at handling tough situations, even when angry. Events that I am glad were cut or changed in the movies are:

  • The scene in “Prisoner of Azkaban,” when he screams “WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING, EH?” to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, in spite of thanking them for seeing him. Not only did I dislike that, but I also found it odd since I don’t think Hagrid has a mood swing disorder. What also disappointed me was that there was no scene where Harry, Hermione, or Ron, reacted to that as soon as they were back in their dorm. Yet, I would assume they were shocked and like, “Well that was very strange.”
  • When he tries to choke Karkaroff in “The Goblet of Fire” after disrespecting Dumbledore and continuing to use his anger out on Harry as he took him back to the Gryffindor tower.
  • When he wouldn’t believe Harry, Ron, or Hermione, that Snape was responsible for jinxing Harry’s broomstick at his first Quidditch match in “The Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone.” I am happy that he was calmer and controlled himself better in the film.

Harry and Sirius’s relation

Like the movies’ depiction of Hagrid, I’ve also preferred Sirius’s portrayal in the films over the books. He is kinder, more affectionate, and patient, especially with his relation to Harry, his godson.

One example that I favored more in the movie version of “The Order of the Phoenix” was that Sirius showed Harry the picture of the original order. I found that to create more of a bond between them – compared to in the book, where Moody shows Harry that picture instead. Others have felt the same way.

Another moment that I (as well as other fans) liked more in the same film was when Sirius complimented on Harry’s disarming of Lucius Malfoy’s wand by saying, “Nice one, James!” It’s almost the same in the novel, except without the use of “James.” 

People have pointed out how much of James (Harry’s father) he sees in Harry, and how much he misses him since they were best friends in school. Although many don’t mention this, Harry’s middle name is actually James.

My favorite change relating to Harry and Sirius is when Harry tells him about the vision he saw of Mr. Weasley being attacked at the ministry of magic. He worries that he’s going bad.

Unlike in the book, where Sirius just tells Harry to go to bed and shrug it off, in the movie, he comforts him by telling him that he is a good person that has had bad things happen to him. Not only does this make the scene more emotional and beautiful, but also strengthens the two’s relationship.

Which brings me to my next point: Harry’s reaction to Sirius’s death in the movie felt more believable to me. He had a sad expression on his face, which led him to weep a bit. Then he screamed, which was muted.

In the novel, when Lupin tells him that Sirius is gone, he just yells and refuses to believe him – no signs of sadness or tears occurred at all.

Ginny in the first movie

Every “Harry Potter” fan I’ve read about has said that Ginny’s character in the book is far superior to her portrayal in the films. I get it – in the movies, she is basically a background character with not too many lines and little development.

She did get more screen time in “The Half-Blood Prince” movie as well as more lines – but that still dissatisfied people a lot. They continued to find her one-dimensional in that film, as well.

When I read the books, I did notice Ginny being more of a major character. However, I will admit that I didn’t pay much attention to her traits – except in the first book.

Since I saw the movies before I read the books (after “The Goblet of Fire” was released, but before “The Order of the Phoenix” came out), I didn’t pick up on every detail in each novel. That could’ve been because they were lengthy for me at the time, despite the fact that they were the only fictional stories I’d read then.

But since the first installment was shorter, I paid more attention to the details there. One of them was how Ginny behaved when she was first introduced at the train station. 

I found her to be very immature there, acting like she was 5 or 6. Had I read the story before the second book came out (even though I was too young at that time), I would never have thought she was 10.

In the movie, however, she behaves more maturely. She stays silent, except when wishing Harry good luck. That is what I expect from a 10-year-old.

That is the only exception, though.

What I liked better in the books

Hagrid being present when his hut is on fire 

This occurred in “The Half-Blood Prince.” The death eaters set Hagrid’s hut on fire, and he yells that his dog, Fang, is still in there. He then rescues him.

But in the movie, Hagrid isn’t present when his hut goes on fire. After that scene, it cuts to the next one, where everyone sees that Dumbledore has died. Hagrid just quietly squeezes through the crowd to find that out.

However, the audience does not know whether or not he saw, or even knew, that his home was set on fire. Hopefully, he did.

There is no burning of the burrow

In the novel, “The Half-Blood Prince,” this didn’t occur at all. It was added in the film for some reason.

Bellatrix shows up, and Harry chases her through the tall grass, still mad at her for killing his godfather, Sirius. Then the Weasley’s house catches fire and they watch it burn.

But in the next film, “The Deathly Hallows Part 1,” the house is back.

Dudley reciprocating with Harry in “The Deathly Hallows Part 1”

This is a very popular opinion.

Like many people, I’ve always felt sorry for Harry having to live with the abusive Dursleys, even though it was necessary since Aunt Petunia was the only last living blood relative of his mom, Lily. Dudley especially bullied him a lot and got away with it, even at Harry’s primary school.

But once dementors attacked him in “The Order of the Phoenix,” Harry saved him. This led to him developing regret for all those years of mistreating Harry.

The moment where Dudley and Harry reciprocated in “The Deathly Hallows” book was, sadly, cut from the movie. However, it has been filmed and you can always watch it somewhere. It just ended up as a deleted scene.

Aunt Petunia acknowledging the loss of her sister and Harry’s mother, Lily 

Like with the reciprocation between Harry and Dudley, this scene was also removed from the final cut of “The Deathly Hallows Part 1.” It is also just a deleted scene.

In this scene, Aunt Petunia finally changes and acknowledges to Harry that he didn’t just lose a mother that night in Godric’s Hollow years ago – she also lost a sister.

This shows a significant growth from when Aunt Petunia was first introduced in the series, both before she got Harry as an infant, and almost 10 years after. She used to loathe and envy Lily, especially when Dumbledore had to politely reject her from Hogwarts since she wasn’t a magician.

What I’m fine with either way

To be honest, I am fine with so many cuts and changes that there is no way I could fit them all on this list. So, I am only sharing a few examples that I feel strongly about.

Neville giving Harry the gillyweed and finding the room of requirement instead of Dobby

A lot of people have complained about Neville taking Dobby’s roles in those situations as well as Dobby not coming back after “The Chamber of Secrets” movie until “The Deathly Hallows Part 1.” 

I understand. However, filmmakers, especially those working on fantasy movies, have very large budgets. So, they can’t always fit every enchanted creature in them.

In “The Goblet of Fire” movie, a lot had to be done for the creatures and special effects for the Triwizard Tournament. So, maybe the filmmakers couldn’t afford to put Dobby in that as well as in “The Order of the Phoenix.” Or the voice actor for him wasn’t available.

On the bright side, though, when Harry, the Weasleys, and the Diggorys, go onto the camping site for the Quidditch World Cup, if you look very carefully, you could get a glimpse of Dobby, and possibly Winky, riding llamas briefly.

The boys having longer hair in “The Goblet of Fire” film

I was surprised that a high number of people disliked this. I had no problem with this at all.

In fact, after “The Goblet of Fire” film came out, I found Harry in that movie to be very attractive.

In the next movie, “The Order of the Phoenix,” the boys had all cut their hair. Only a minor character, Zacharias Smith, had lengthy hair. He was in Dumbledore’s Army, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t get any spoken lines (or at least not any noticeable ones).

Hermione getting lines that were originally Ron’s in the books

I was surprised when a lot of people disliked this. It made Hermione seem to have fewer flaws, and Ron a comic-relief character who whined a bit.

I assume that the filmmakers did this because they were concerned about Hermione acting like a damsel-in-distress. I could be wrong. But if I am not, then this obviously backfired.

Yet, I still thought this was fine.

Even how Dumbledore asked Harry if he put his name in the goblet of fire

Seeing the movie version of “The Goblet of Fire” first before reading the book, I had no problem with this. However, in recent years, I learned that this was completely out-of-character for Dumbledore to lose his temper like that – especially since the text in the novel specifically stated that he asked Harry calmly if he put his name in the goblet of fire.

It still didn’t bother me – but due to some personal experience, I finally understood fans’ disappointments toward Dumbledore asking Harry that specific question aggressively. I don’t know how J.K. Rowling felt about it, though. 

While it still doesn’t bug me as much as it does with others, I empathize with them more than ever.

Conclusion

With any book-to-film adaptation, content has to be cut for budget and time purposes. It also often gets changed.

Authors usually don’t get to have any creative control whatsoever, since the filmmakers worry that it’ll ruin the movies’ success. But what I notice is that the opposite happens a lot. The books’ fans and readers complain about the content changes, and removals as well as the authors. 

Although this doesn’t occur all the time, many of those movies get mixed and negative reviews. Those adapted from series often can’t finish after the second or third installments due to the box office failures.

Now I’m not saying that the filmmakers are wrong, crazy, or don’t know what they’re talking about. I get that certain scenes from text on pages don’t translate well to the screen. But from what I’ve noticed, I think it’s about time that moviemakers allow authors, at least, a little bit of creative control, even if it has to be limited.

But as of now, filmmakers will only allow creative control from highly elite, big-name authors. J.K. Rowling is one of the few exceptions. But even that didn’t stop content removals and changes from the books to the movies.

What do you think of my opinions? Would you like to share some of yours?

Published by Sunayna Prasad

I enjoy writing stories, creating artwork, watching movies and TV shows, cooking, and traveling. These are the topics of my posts. I also publish books, where you can learn about them on my website, www.sunaynaprasadbooks.com. Be sure to copy and paste the link and subscribe to my newsletter on the email list button on the homepage.

6 thoughts on “My Evaluation of the “Harry Potter” Books and Movies

    1. It ends well at the end of the 7th installment. There’s “The Cursed Child,” but a lot of people say it’s got issues, especially with characterizations and plot holes.

      Like

    1. Thanks for enjoying. Yeah, it took me a while to process these thoughts. But hey, there’s more to learn.

      Like

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