By Alyssa Henry
SPOILER ALERT: This post is a comparison of major plot points in the movie and book versions of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. II. There are spoilers of major scenes, events and deaths.
When I was 11, I read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for the first time. I was the same age as Harry when he first received his Hogwarts letter. (Unfortunately, it seems that mine got lost in the mail.) Since then, there have been 7 books, 8 movies, and one epic adventure. Here are some of my favorite moments that were true to the book, and some that were changed for the big screen.
True to the book: One moment the movie does well is the quasi dream-sequence after Harry lets Voldemort kill him in the Forbidden Forrest. The movie stays true to the scenery and imagery from the book. Kings Cross station is a surreal, stark white place, hovering between life and death. The dialogue between Harry and Dumbledore is the same as in the novel, and ends with one of my favorite quotes of the series: “Of course this is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth must that mean that it is not real?”.
There are other key scenes that fans love from the books, and the movie does not disappoint. First is when Neville kills Nagini, Voldemort’s snake. This is his defining moment in the series, as Neville has been underestimated his whole life by his grandmother, his teachers, and even his friends. In Deathly Hallows Pt. II, he leads the student revolt at Hogwarts and stands up to Voldemort when he believes Harry is dead. Destroying the final Horcruxes cements him as a hero, and the fans in the theater loved it.
And another defining moment: when Mrs. Weasley kills Bellaxtrix Lestrange after she attacks her daughter, Ginny. The loudest applause in the theater happened when Mrs. Weasley shouts, “Not my daughter, you bitch!” and hits her with the killing curse.
And finally — the long-awaited kiss between Ron and Hermione. It was a perfect moment of love, amidst the death and destruction happening in the final battle of Hogwarts.
Altered for the big screen: While those moments came to life on the big screen, there were some that strayed from J.K. Rowling’s novel. Fred Weasley’s death in the book takes place in a hectic battle with Death Eaters, as Harry and Ron look on. In the movie, his death feels marginalized. Instead of watching him get killed in action, we see his family mourning over his body in the Great Hall. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching moments in the books, but without seeing him killed in the movie, it loses its effectiveness.
Another small, but notable, difference is the location of Snape’s death. In the book, he’s killed by Voldemort in the Shrieking Shack. In the movie, it takes place in the never-before-seen-or-mentioned Hogwarts “boat house”. The scene and memories are the same, and Snape is still a tragic hero of sorts. It’s just a minor annoyance that this location has never previously existed in the books or movies.
While Harry’s fight with Voldemort is a thrilling chase through Hogwart’s castle, Voldemort’s actual death is anti-climactic. In the book, the final duel between Harry and Voldemort takes place in the Great Hall in front of the entire crowd of Hogwarts students, teachers and Death Eaters, and a cheer erupts when he’s finally defeated. In the movie, however, Harry and Voldemort fight alone in the courtyard and when Voldemort is killed, he explodes into a million tiny pieces with a strange visual effect of dust floating in the air. He dissolves into the atmosphere with no one around to witness it.
And there is one more important plot point that was altered for the movie: Harry doesn’t repair his wand at the end of the film. As true HP fans know, in the books, Harry loves his wand because it’s one of the first things he receives that ties him to the wizarding world. So when it breaks in the novel, he spends much of his time mourning it. He then uses the elder wand to repair, before disposing of the elder wand itself. In the film, however, he breaks the elder wand in two and throws it away without ever fixing his own wand.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Death Hallows Pt. II is an excellent adaptation of the book, as it captures the essence of the entire series. It’s a battle of good and evil, dark and light, and life and death, with the story of friendship at its core. It’s true to the characters and the plot and paints a vibrant picture of the final battle of Hogwarts.
So, my fellow Harry Potter fans, let us raise a glass to Harry Potter… the boy who lived.