A decade's worth of anticipation, along with Ms Rowling's efforts, and our dreams that grew around The Boy Who Lived and He Who Must Not be Named. In one single effort.
With a swish and a flick, Warner Brothers uttered the magic words. And there lay Harry Potter, dead, across thousands of screens across the world, all at the same time.
The worst Potter movie ever made. Period.
I suppose the movie might still turn out to be a raging hit among people who have not read the series. They would love the corpse because they shall never know what it was like when it was alive. But as for us, the diehard fans who have the books more than Hermione has read Hogwarts: A History, this was nothing short of our scarred hero being gangraped, mutilated, murdered.
I went to catch the first show, and the show got cancelled because I was the only spectator available. I went back again later, I could sacrifice watching it on 3D, but I couldn't have sacrificed watching it on the first day.
And they gave me this, in return.
Warning: The rest of the article contains spoilers
Where did it all go wrong, then? Let's start at the very beginning:
1. The Hallows. Or rather, the absence of them
The movie, as Warner Brother has conveniently forgotten, is called Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. This was supposed to imply that the movie would be about the hallows. A lot shall be told about them (in addition to Xen Lovegood's narration in the first part), about what purpose they serve, about how they are nobler when compared to horcruxes, about how Dumbledore had pursued them at some point of time. The term was used once in the movie, in a casual conversation between Harry and Mr Ollivander (who never came into the picture in the books as far as hallows were concerned).
(i) we never got to know that the cute-looking stone that Harry dropped was the resurrection stone, and was one of the hallows; I'm sure it confused a lot of people who weren't aware of the story;
(ii) we never got to know that the Elder Wand was one of the hallows; that the fact that Dumbledore had performed "extraordinary magic" with the wand had a lot to do with the fact that the wand was uber-special;
(iii) we never got to know that that Harry's invisibility cloak was one of the hallows, either; it was always portrayed as another cloak - we never got to know that it was special.
2. Harry's wand
Harry did show Bellatrix and Draco's wands to Mr Ollivander. However, it never struck him to show his own mutilated wand to the greatest wandmaker in Britain and ask whether a repair was possible. This ruined the fact that the wand was beyond repair using normal magic, and it would take the Elder Wand to fix it.
It did not matter in the end, though. Harry never attempted to repair it anyway. He spent the rest of his life without a wand, I presume. Abbe, Voldy ko maar daala, ab wand se kya lena-dena?
3. The destiny of the Elder Wand
The Elder Wand was not returned to Dumbledore's grave. It never went back to its rightful owner - possibly the greatest wizard of all times. Our hero decided to snap it and throw the pieces away (without attempting to repair his own wand, I repeat). This was oddly reminiscent of Karisma Kapoor throwing stones at God for making her fall in love with Shah Rukh Khan in Dil to Paagal Hai.
4. How were the giants killed?
The movie showed one (two?) giants in Voldemort's army. We were shown how Harry and Co. escaped close deaths in the hands of a giant by running between its legs. What we never got to see was how they were defeated. WB just had to show giants (and acromantulae), I presume, but didn't find thwarting giants a scene worth showing.
Since wizards cannot affect giants easily, Grawp attacking them and Buckbeak and the thestrals (thereby increasing greatly Hagrid's role in the war) having a go at their eyes was a scene I was really looking forward to. WB omitted that. The giants got bored and left in the end, I presume.
5. McGonagall and her strange command
From the very beginning of the series, McGonagall had come across as a strict teacher, but a very good human being. She had been rigid at times, but she CANNOT, I repeat, CANNOT ask Filch to send the Slytherins to the dungeons. McGonagall CANNOT do anything like that to any student.
Why did you not bother to read the series, David Yates?
6. The Prince's Tale
I had possibly expected too much of Hollywood as far as one of my favourite chapters of the series was concerned. In the end, it turned out to be too quick, mushy and vague for anyone to understand.
We never got to know how Dumbledore had guided Snape throughout the seventh year. Not a single sentence on that. No one got to know how Snape acted the way he did. What should have been one of the emotional climaxes turned out to be a typically Hollywoodish damp squib. That was the closest I came to hurling a shoe at the screen in anguish, but the concept of returning barefoot wasn't too appealing.
The book: Voldemort would body-bind Neville. Set him on fire. The spell would be lifted. Neville, thanks to his bravery, now becomes eligible to bring out Gryffindor's sword out of the sorting hat, and in one go, decapitated Nagini. The war resumed.
Result: gave me goosebumps at about eight in the morning; I was reading nonstop, with a couple of hours of sleep squeezed in between.
The movie: Neville pulled out the sword out of the sorting hat all right, but no apparent valid reason. As everyone (Bellatrix included) was already dead and Voldemort was caught in a loooooooooooong duel with Harry, Nagini chased Ron and Hermione throughout the castle (why?). The moment it cornered them and was about to pounce upon them, Neville appeared out of nowhere, and did the decapitation bit just in the nick of time.
Result: I yawned.
8. The Crabbe-Zabini mystery
Tendulkar had decided to skip the recently concluded India-West Indies series. As a result, VVS Laxman batted at four and Virat Kohli was included.
Jamie Waylett (playing Crabbe in all the first seven movies) wasn't possibly available, but Josh Herdman (Goyle) was. So, instead of Crabbe, Goyle became the one to cast Fiendfyre and get killed. But there needed to be another Slytherin in the scene, so in stepped Blaise Zabini.
Cool. Too cool for words.
9. Three scenes
Three of my most eagerly anticipated scenes were omitted. All of them had given me emotional upheavals while reading, and in my opinion they would have helped improve the standard of the trash of a movie by at least ten times:
(i) the return of Percy Weasley, and the reactions of the entire Weasley family to that; one of the most emotional scene in the series...
(ii) The Order of the Phoenix setting up base: Kingsley providing clear instructions on how to control the four towers, and putting Fred and George in charge of the passages; the set-up would have given the audience the feeling of the beginning of a war and would have had them at the edges of their seats;
(iii) Trelawney joining the fray, smashing Death Eaters with her massive glass orbs; the scene had made me visualise Emma Thompson, and I had paused reading to laugh out loud, despite the tension.
10. The Dumbledore saga
I had always thought that The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore was worth being converted into a full-length feature film. Instead, they never cared to dig deep into the history of the Dumbledores: the Albus-Aberforth strained relationship, Arianna's death, Dumbledore's quest for the hallows. Nothing. But then, Tom Riddle's past was not very clearly narrated - where does Dumbledore's past stand in comparison?
And as for Gellert Grindelwald - who's that?
11. No moldification
The brilliant Peeves song ("We did it, we bashed them, wee Potter's the one / And Voldy's gone moldy, so now let's have fun!"), which proved to be such a relief from the packed tension, was omitted.
It was fitting, though. There was no tension to be relieved of in the first place. Harry and Voldemort grabbing each other and falling from top of a tower amidst a stream of black doesn't really build up tension. And neither does Harry uttering the famous line "Let's end the way it started, Tom." Thank goodness it wasn't "Let's go for a dive, Tommy."
Why did they not use the song, even during the end credits? :(
12. After the war
The book: Voldemort is killed in front of a packed audience. All of Hogwarts cheer in unison. Everyone celebrates. Even my back turns to an obtuse angle from an acute one. Peeves goes berserk. They throw food in Grawp's mouth. An exhausted Harry decides to retire to the headmaster's room, where all the Hogwarts headmasters, Dumbledore included, join in a standing ovation. Harry has a long conversation with Dumbledore, filling in whatever gaps were there in the plot, and the reader is left content.
The movie: Voldemort is killed in a vague open land. Harry snaps the Elder Wand and throws them away. Period. No celebrations.
Lists are almost always supposed to be made in XIs. But I decided that there was another aspect that could simply not be left out.
13. The scene where I laughed out really loud
Plot deviations are obvious in any movie. Anyone does that for the sake of the movie. There have been major plot deviations in the first seven movies that had driven me insane. But this one was so pathetic that I actually laughed out loud:
When the war started, the four major professors were expected to protect Hogwarts. McGonagall did her bit and summoned the suits of armour to protect the castle (which, in my friend Somnath's opinion, were reminiscent of Mummy 3 - released in Hindi as Dragon Badshah ka Maqbara). Then the professors united and cast spells to put a three-dimensional barrier to protect Hogwarts. McGonagall. Flitwick. Slughorn. And, hold your breath, not Pomona Sprout, but MOLLY WEASLEY. Dropped in for a casual visit, I presume.
That was actually the moment where I gave up hope of all kind, and sat back, laughing. Even Neville luring Fenrir Greyback and team to a ridiculous landslide failed to infuriate me any further.
The credits clearly mention "based on the book by JK Rowling". I had perhaps set my expectations to too high.
It's a good thing that had rated it PG-13. Children shouldn't be allowed to witness butchery, savagery, gore. More so when dreams and expectations get raped and murdered.
Abhishek Mukherjee is a data analyst based in Kolkata, he blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.com
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