Why HARRY POTTER Films Should Never Have Been Like The Books

As fans of Harry Potter leave the theater for the final time and mull over the faithfulness of the film franchise, they would be wise to analyze the series as a standalone work, not something fundamentally tied to the books.

In light of the news this week that all 5€™7€ of Tom Cruise would be playing the imposing 6€™5€ tall, near 250 pounds Jack Reacher in a series of films based on the Lee Child character that nearly caused a riot at WhatCulture! and with the recent release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, fans around the world are once again bring up a favorite post-movie discussion point: €œIt's just not faithful to the book.€ Since I first heard the phrase as a child, I have always found something dubious about the statement. After all, film is film and books are books€”the two are clearly different media, one visual, one written with the visuals as imagination. The real problem with making movies from written stories is not that film changes too much of the original story, but the imagination of readers somehow never finds absolute fulfillment when viewing a motion picture based on their favorite book. When I first watched The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, only one aspect missing in the film really hurt my feelings. The Houses of Healing, a notable scene in the original book, which was absent, and even in the extended release the scene utterly failed. As a fan of the original story, I was looking for a scene that brings Aragorn, the titular character for which the story is named, into The White City for the first time, and was ultimately recognized by a nurse (or someone like it) as being the king returned to Gondor after an absence of two-thousand years. The symbolism from that particular scene was really important to me as a reader, and I left the film disappointed, but still exhilarated after viewing a great movie. Although I longed a single scene in the film, I was able to recognize that many such scenes likely existed for viewers everywhere. One of my friends actually expounded on how much the battle sequences lacked scope in comparison to the book, when the sequences themselves used innovative technology in ways filmmakers had never dreamed of before creating Middle Earth. There is a difference between wishing for a particular scene and making accusations of quality based on their experience in reading a book. As film viewers, we need to step away from the books and accept that books and movies are two separate media that should never be compared. For example, Jim Butcher, author of €œThe Dresden Files,€ has commented that €œBlowing up Chicago doesn€™t cost me anything extra to write, but to film it would be very expensive.€ Yet costs are just one small difference between film and books. Just imagine the entire Harry Potter series perfectly translated to a screenplay and filmed without altering any details or skipping any side stories. The result would be a very, very long movie that would ultimately end up as a television series unable to afford the stupendous special effects demanded by its source material. We need to accept that filmmakers do not have the expectation to interpret a storyline in the same manner as every individual reader does around the world, because that would be impossible, not to mention unfair. Fortunately for filmmakers, their job is not to live up to the creative vision that readers have, but to interpret source material according to their medium€”film. I am a graphic designer and photographer, not a copywriter that writes advertisements or a three-dimensional animator, but a simple visual communicator. My creative vision is different from other creative professionals that might work on projects with me, yet will likely present the same material to different audiences, and that is a good thing. Creatively, filmmakers and I are no different€”we just work with different media. To say that filmmakers have slaughtered a story because they changed a few details is nothing short of hogwash. Filmmakers simply look at a story through a different lens that, unfortunately, is much more limiting than human imagination. However, just because filmmakers get to have creative license with a story doesn€™t give them an excuse to make a terrible film. Two films immediately come to mind in Green Lantern and Eragon. Both films were terrible excuses for their art that could have been low-budget projects slapped together for The Disney Channel or Cartoon Network and looked good, but not on the silver screen. On one hand, The Green Lantern tries to cram an entire universe of history into a film under two hours long, spends time developing pointless side-stories, and resorts to bad logic that does not allow viewers to maintain a suspension of disbelief. Eragon, on the other hand, did not have to butcher the source material to be a bad film--it just did not try hard enough to be good, and ended up as something regrettable. Just because film and books are different does not mean that filmmakers get a license to make bad movies. Avid readers need to learn the difference between a bad movie and something that did not live up to their expectations. As fans of Harry Potter leave the theater, they would be wise to analyze the film as a standalone work, not something fundamentally tied to the books. Sure, the filmmakers change a multitude of details, but just imagine the series if they did not. I have seen movies that stick to their source material too closely, and it is not pretty, which proves my point all the more. Film is a different medium from other forms of art, and if viewers cannot accept that important fact, they will forever be disappointed in cinematic retellings of beloved stories.
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28 year old male likes long walks on the beaches and romantic dinners in the...whoa...wrong posting. Greetings all! If you are reading this, you probably want to know a thing or two about me. I am indeed a 28 year old dude from Oregon, I'm happily married, and I am a creative professional that does graphic design and photography to try (keyword is try) to make money in this crazy world we live in. I'm totally insane about film and the arts, and I have some pretty strong political/religious/social opinions as well. I draw quite a bit of inspiration from film, and often use it as a lens for viewing the world. On this site, you’ll catch me writing about a variety of, well, stuff, and you can agree, disagree, or be indifferent, but any way you look at it, I love a good argument (I forgot to mention that I studied philosophy for two years, so argumentation, as long as it is good, gets me all excited). Happy blogging to all!