The ramblings of a freelance writer, novelist and avid reader.

Monday, August 17, 2009

HP Monday – Where’s Neville?

I had a very Harry Potter weekend myself. I went to the Harry Potter exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago on Friday. I highly recommend it to any one who likes the books, movies, or just likes seeing movie props in real life. I was also finishing up book number one in and around Chicago and watched the first movie last night to cap off the weekend.

I was surprised at how similar the book and movie are – I don’t remember that at all. I remember thinking they were really, really different actually. Of course, we could get into how they are different, and list off all of the details missing from the movie (and if that’s what you want to post about, feel free) but that’s the problem with every book to movie translation. I even found one thing in the movie that’s not in the book – and I really always thought it was. The scene where Hermione finds Harry and Ron on the train and Ron performs his turning-scabbers-yellow spell and then Hermione tells them all spells are easy and fixes Harry’s broken glasses – not in the book; she doesn’t perform a spell at all, just says the ones she’s tried have all worked.

Walking around the exhibit in Chicago with all the movie props you can’t help but be impressed by the world that’s been created. If my books ever make it this far, I’ll be so impressed – someone took my words and then created this whole thing with all of these tiny details. Rowling must admire things like the posting board for Gryffindor house with notes and names and a million little things she didn’t have time to think of while writing her story. Or, she may have thought them up but then she had to delete them from her manuscript or she would have never been able to sell it. Imagine if one of your deleted thoughts, ideas – or just random small thing that you never wrote down but always imagined while writing – actually shows up on screen, because a director, or cinematographer or set designer read your words and thought it up too. There was a Great Hall room in the exhibit, and I was totally impressed by this chocolate hat with chocolate bunnies coming out of it – as a reader I’ve thought of things like that…I’m going to have to try and recreate that one!

I get why there is no Peeves in the movie – it’s an extra plot-line that could be eliminated; and Peeves is kind of obnoxious. I even get why they play down the two oldest Weasleys (Charlie and Bill) even though I like both characters a good deal. But I don’t get the mixing up which characters are in which scenes? Why is Neville not with Hermione, Ron and Harry when they meet Fluffy for the first time? Why is Neville not part of the detention in the forest with Hermione, Harry and Malfoy (and why is Ron there)? Neville’s actions at the end of the book and movie seem much more heroic when you know he’s been suffering along with Hermione and Harry in the wrath of all other Gryffindors for loosing all of those house points. I can’t figure this one out at all. The scenes play out mostly the same; I just keep wondering where Neville is.

I like the obstacle course in the book better. The gauntlet the trio has to run at the end is really entertaining in the book – I miss the potion (if for the logic puzzle alone) and troll sections. I liked knowing that each professor put their own twist on the trials to get to the stone, and that all three children needed to be there to get through it. Although, I really do like Ron’s speech in the movie as he sits on his horse and waits for the queen to knock him down.

So, what do you think? Movie thoughts, book thoughts, book and movie thoughts? After reading and watching, do you feel the movie took any liberties? Does it assume you’ve read the book or does it stand alone? If you’ve already seen the movie and this is the first time you’re reading the book, do you get more out of the movie now?

Oh, and if that girl who reminded me so much of Hermione from the HP exhibit who lost her bag of souvenirs and tried to take mine at the train station is somehow reading this; I apologize. It really was my bag and not yours, but my husband tells me I was mean to you and I should have just opened up my bag and showed you what was inside instead of saying you could look inside if you wanted to (which apparently I did in an accusing tone). I really hope you found your souvenirs, wherever you are.

Next week we will wrap up book one and look ahead to book two – that pesky chamber and all those spiders. Watch the movie if you haven’t yet and post your comments!


  1. Hey Mariah. I watched all the movies to get ready to see movie 6, since I didn't think I had the time or energy to read all the books again (like I did before the Deathly Hallows came out). However, I did reread The Order of the Pheonix before the movie, and since then have reread books 6 and 7. Your blog, and my absolute love for these characters and story, has got me going back to book 1 and finishing the series again. This actually works really well, because my brain level post-baby is definitely young-adult fiction. But anyway, I may jump around in my responses, because I am not coming at this from the same order as you.

    I do think that this movie most resembles the book, primarily because the book is the shortest. I don't understand why they cut out Neville so much. This is true throughout the series, although in the Half-Blood Prince it seems like they put him in it gratuitously to keep him in people's minds, given the key (but small) role he plays in the Deathly Hallows. I love Neville, and really wish he was more fleshed out in the movies. I do understand why they have to cut characters and story lines for time, but I still miss them.

    I think that the movies work for those who haven't read the books, but the richness of the experience is not nearly the same, because of all the editing. Mostly I think the writer has done a pretty good job, although when you get to The Goblet of Fire I will have a bit to say. I do like the extended obstacle course in the book, and how many characters have their hand in protecting the stone, and each of the trio plays a part of getting to it. This same "sharing of the glory" is one of my favorite parts about the Deathly Hallows, where many people play their role.

    Anyway, it is cool that you are doing this, and I will do my best to keep up, although all bets are off once school starts again.

  2. I have a thought about the fact that Neville doesn't get as much play in the movie as he does in the book, for the first story, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The theory is losing credibility as I think about it, so let me just write it out and everyone else can poo-poo it.

    Perhaps they weren't convinced that the movie would take off as much as the books, and the idea of paying a fourth actor to be in all of those scenes was daunting. Perhaps Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, and Emma Watson demanded so much money that poor Neville-actor with last name inserted here was not allowed to be in those scenes.

    Or, another thought, as a movie, perhaps having three interactive players was enough on screen and the fourth one detracted from the others too much.

    Or, it's an entirely anti-Neville campaign begun before any other anti-Neville campaigns had begun. You know there are thousands of them now.

  3. And one thing more, that is one excellent toad!

  4. Yeah, I can't take credit for the toad - Go free stock images.

    I'm excited to see two high school teachers with their comments though - and one's a new mom as well (Anne - she's absolute gorgeous on your facebook pictures. Congratulations!!) so I can't wait to read more of your insight and perspective.

    Besides being really rather funny, Matt has some decent ideas about Neville and the wonderful world of movie magic - sometimes it probably does just come down to a paycheck. Regardless, I still miss him in the first movie.

    Also, as Anne pointed out, the "sharing the glory" theme is repeated again (and again) througout the books. It's one of those foreshadowing things I was talking about in a previous post that I just love.