The Harry Potter Film Series
Created | Updated Dec 14, 2009
This Entry is about the box office record-busting film series that followed on from the success of the bestselling 'Harry Potter' children's books. For more detailed explanations of the plots, please see the Entries on the book series and also Entries about the individual films. Where this Entry goes into plot details, it is for the purpose of explaining how the films differ from the books.
Advance warning: this Entry contains more gratuitous spoilers1 than Southend Seafront on a Friday night.
Impact of the Films
The films were always going to be popular, but rather than sit on their laurels, the directors, especially in the latter films, have tried to push the envelope.
Not only popular with readers of the books, the films bring in a lot of new fans, be it parents and siblings of book fans or, in the latter films, men and boys who want to see more of Emma Watson or women drooling over Alan Rickman.
On the other hand, there are legions of fans of the books who will not watch the films.
One major impact has been a financial one; as well as breaking box office records and becoming the highest grossing film series of all time, it has made JK Rowling even richer and the three young stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson into millionaires.
The soundtracks for the first three films were composed by the renowned John Williams. Many of the musical themes that he established were carried on by his successors. The most identifiable of these was 'Hedwig's Theme'. Due to other commitments, Williams couldn't work on The Goblet of Fire, so Patrick Doyle took the job. The music for the opening scenes of this film, based around 'Hedwig's Theme', was used in the UK's 2008 GCSE music exam. Nicholas Hooper composed the music for the next two films.
As with all adaptations of books, a fair amount of plot goes missing by the time it reaches the silver screen. Some of this is to speed the film up, or to remove scenes that would not work on cinema; but most of it is to make a film short enough for children to sit through. As a rule, the ideal size for a book that can be adapted to a film is around 120 to 200 pages long. While the first 3 books were fairly short and needed little cutting, the latter books were much longer, so vast amounts have been lost for the cinema.
Being a film series, each film has not only to follow the plot of the book, but to follow on from the choices made by the previous director and screen writer, so as to not ruin the continuity. As such, there are things that are familiar to the readers that the films never show, or show much less.
Hogwarts Castle is home to ghosts, and some of the best uses of subtle CGI are the interactions between the pupils and these spirits of the dead. Peeves is the resident poltergeist. Rowling broke with convention in making the poltergeist a bright, colourful character, instead of an invisible malevolence. While he would have provided some slapstick moments, he never really moved the plot on, so he hasn't been seen in the films as yet.
Rik Mayall was lined up to play Peeves, and did some scenes for the first film, but they were cut.
Dobby the House Elf, the rebellious servant of the Malfoys, played his part in the second film, and Kreacher has a reduced part in the fifth film, but lots of House Elf sub-plots were removed. The start of the fourth book revolves around a House Elf, and Dobby comes back during the course of the novel to help Harry out. None of this is mentioned, neither is Hermione's quest for Elf liberation. The fifth and sixth films, aside from a brief Kreacher appearance, are also Elf-free.
The producers may have been worried that the comic CGI creatures might turn into the Potter version of Jar-Jar Binks and be a rallying point for fan hatred.
With more and more plot to fit in, the lessons paid their price in being omitted. History of Magic never appears, which is probably a good thing, as endless boring lessons work well on paper but not on film. The lack of lessons does rob the audience of more opportunities to see some of Britain's finest actors doing their thing as teachers. On the other hand, even film directors might have thought that having a lesson for the occasion when you have a porcupine but are in urgent need of a pin cushion may have been a bit far-fetched.
The Dursleys, Harry's only living relatives, are totally missing from The Goblet of Fire and from The Half Blood Prince. In the books, these are their only two proper interactions with wizards after the first book, and could have led to entertaining scenes, but plot-wise, the films lose nothing from their absence.
By the later books, it was common knowledge that Rowling tried to avoid writing about Quidditch2 matches wherever possible, hence Harry being injured or suspended, or matches being cancelled wherever possible. While the Quidditch sequences in the films were always spectacular, some didn't really fit into the film in terms of pacing and adding more would have been repetitive. Another concern would be that the actors, especially the boys, found sitting on the brooms rather uncomfortable in the nether regions, especially for long periods. For this reason, there is a maximum of one game per film.
It means that we don't see the tension, joys and disappointments of winning and missing out on the Quidditch Cup. In the fifth film, there are no games at all, so we don't get the lifetime bans for Harry and the Weasley twins. We also don't get Harry's team winning the Cup in the sixth film and the resulting kiss between him and Ginny. Most disappointingly, we don't get the chance to see more of Sean Biggerstaff, who played Harry's team captain, Oliver Wood, and seemed like a promising actor.
While there are still references to drink in the films, the kids and the magical community are much less obsessed with alcoholic beverages than they are in the books. Hagrid doesn't appear drunk around the kids as much as he does in the books. In the books, the 13-year-old Ron, Harry and Hermione frequent pubs and Harry is described as thinking that 'butterbeer' is the best thing he has ever tasted. While butterbeer appears to be a soft drink along the lines of ginger beer, it is never specifically stated that it is not alcoholic, and its intoxicating effect on House Elves is mentioned.
Perhaps not wishing to upset a society concerned already with underage binge drinkers, lots, but not all, of this is left out. For instance, in the sixth film, Harry still does get Hagrid and Slughorn drunk, but it was an important plot point, and the drinking was between two adults. Luna, as well, doesn't have a necklace of butterbeer corks.
Wisely, the director of the first film decided to ignore the whole idea of the 'Hogwarts Song'. This was unsurprising as Rowling had given it up after the first book. In the third film, there is a musical intro3 to Hogwarts' Great Hall with a choir and a frog chorus, but let's not dwell on that. The 'Hogwarts Song' does get a little outing in the fourth film, with Hermione singing it as they walk through the forest. Luckily Harry finds a dead body, so we don't have to hear it all!
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
or, Harry Potter in 'So I Married an Alchemist'
This film introduces us to Harry Potter, a young wizard unaware of his famous past. We see his first year in Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry and see him make new friends and enemies. Snooping around, Harry and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, discover that a powerful object is being stored in the school and set about saving it from evil.
Cast and Crew
With hindsight, having a workmanlike director, in Chris Columbus, dealing with the simplest of the books aimed at a younger audience, the first film doesn't stand up to some of the later ones in terms of quality. It introduced the three child stars of Daniel Radcliffe as Harry (wide eyed staring in wonder), Emma Watson as Hermione (being a know-it-all) and Rupert Grint as Ron (ginger). Tom Felton as Draco is little more than a one-dimensional comic foil and bad guy in this film. Supporting these were Matthew Lewis as Neville, James and Oliver Phelps as the Weasley Twins, Chris Rankin as Percy, Jamie Waylett as Crabbe, Josh Herdman as Goyle, Devon Murray as Seamus Finnigan, Alfie Enoch as Dean Thomas and Harry Melling as Dudley Dursley, with a brief glimpse of Bonnie Wright as the later-to-be-important Ginny.
The adult cast is a who's-who of British and Irish acting talent. Richard Harris was brought in as Dumbledore after his granddaughter made him do it. Dame Maggie Smith was the ideal choice for Professor McGonagall and Robbie Coltrane made Hagrid his own. Former England Rugby International Martin Bayfield acts as Coltrane's body double for when they actually need a giant in the background. He also provides stunts in some of the films. Warwick Davis and Verne Troyer played goblins, with Warwick also playing Professor Flitwick. John Hurt has a small role as the wand maker Ollivander. Richard Griffiths and Fiona Shaw as the Dursleys played to the younger audiences with their portrayals of the Harry's uncle and aunt, which begs the question about how lax the social workers in Surrey were. Ian Hart played the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Quirrrell , but all school scenes were stolen by Alan Rickman who chewed his way though scenery with cool, cruel, deliberate vindictiveness as Professor Snape. Julie Waters, the nation's favourite mother figure, made a brief appearance as Ron's mother, toning down her much-practised grotesque performance slightly. Zoe Wannamaker turns up as the yellow-eyed Madame Hooch, and appears briefly in some of the other films, although doesn't speak in them. Two other British comedy legends make brief cameos, John Cleese as the Gryffindor Ghost and Leslie Philips as the voice of a hat. Fans of 1980s a cappella groups may spot David Brett of the Flying Pickets who makes a brief appearance as Dedalus Diggle.
Former Great Western Railway Hall Class locomotive Olton Hall was used as the Hogwarts Express. The first character cast was in fact Hedwig, or at least one of the owls that plays her, all of which were apparently male.
Before production was started in 2000, it was rumoured that Warner Brothers had tried to bring ex-Python Terry Gilliam on board as director, but decided against it. Gilliam has refused to be considered for any of the other films saying that Warner had lost its chance to use him once they turned him down for the first film. Who knows what Rowling's magical world would have been like if Gilliam were allowed access to the CGI rooms and the massive budget? It would no doubt have been spectacular and disturbing.
Differences from the Book
The film pretty much follows the plot, with a few scenes such as Harry and Draco's first meeting changing location and merging with another later meeting. After Hagrid introduces him to the wizard world, he stays with him all the way till he vanishes on the footbridge at Kings Cross station. This is rather nasty of him, as there was no need for Harry to be up there. Since there is no way to get down from there other than stairs, how he gets the heavy trolley down is anybody's guess!
Professor Quirrell was only possessed by He Who Shall Not Be Named after he had met Harry in the inn in the book; in the film he was already possessed at the first meeting, hence he doesn't shake hands with Harry. The story surrounding Hagrid, the dragon and the children sneaking around was simplified, with Draco finding out about the dragon on the day it was hatched and then landing everybody in detention. Aside from a few levels of protection for the stone at the end missing, the film pans out like the book, with the same Deus ex Machina ending.
Released in November 2001, the film broke box office records in America for single day takings on its first two days as well as being the biggest opening weekend.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
or, Harry Potter in 'Snakes in a Drain'
Now in his second year, Harry and friends investigate and kill an evil creature that is terrorising the school.
Cast and Crew
One of the big plus points of the series is the actor continuity. Almost all the actors returned for the second film. Miriam Margolyes gives a good performance as Professor Sprout, the only time the character appears in the films until the final two. Mark Williams, a familiar face to lovers of British comedy takes on the role of Muggle-mad Mr Weasley, injecting it with both humour and warmth. Toby Jones voices Dobby, although it is not confirmed if Vladimir Putin set some time aside for the animators to model him for the CGI. Taking a break from playing Nazis and Generals of the Imperial Galactic Fleet, Julian Glover voices Aragog the spider. Jason Isaacs joins the cast as Lucius Malfoy and seethes his way around the set with blonde menace. Christian Coulson takes the role of Tom Riddle, the young He-Who-Made-A-Lot-Of-Effort-To-Come-Up-With-A-Frightening-Anagram-For-His-Name-Only-For People-To-Be-Afraid-To-Use-It. He became the second actor to play the part, with it previously voiced by Ian Hart. Robert Hardy turns up as the Minister for Magic, a part he would play in the next few films, but without the book's lime green bowler hat. The film's Special Guest Teacher is Kenneth Branagh, camping it up as Gilderoy Lockhart.
A special appearance was also made by St Pancras Station, playing the part of Kings Cross Station4.
Differences from the Book
The film again followed the book like a dedicated stalker, only really differing in giving Ginny less screen time, leaving Percy's love life out and removing some of the scenes where people accuse Harry of being the Heir of Sytherin.
To add a bit of drama and suspense, Harry is thrown out of the flying car while avoiding the Hogwarts Express. Quite why, when your best friend is hanging by his fingers out of a Ford Anglia flying well above a concrete viaduct, you have to tell him to hold on is a question best answered by the scriptwriters. Tom Felton is given a chance to prove that he can be a reasonable actor as well as playing the comic turns and the one-dimensional villain scenes. Jamie Waylett and Josh Herdman are actually given lines to speak too.
With no History of Magic class, the exposition and back story of the Chamber is explained by Professor McGonagall, which meant some screen time for Dame Maggie, and a wish that more teachers were like her in terms of natural command of a class. Again, it sufferes from the book's deus ex machina ending, which works in the books, just, as Dumbledore is there to explain it all, but it makes the films confusing, especially for people new to the canon.
The climax in the Chamber of Secrets is impressive in that the child actors and CGI interact convincingly. The small touches of CGI in the films, such as the countless moving portraits and newspapers are one of the most effective ways that the viewer is brought into the magical world of Potter. These touches make the school seem more unreal.
The film came out in November 2002, a year after the first film. It was a massive success, beating its predecessor's box office returns in the UK, but not quite in America.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
or, Harry Potter in 'All Creatures Great and Small'
The third film sees Harry return to school aware that a mass murderer, Sirius Black, has escaped from prison to track him down and kill him. Along the way, some facts are revealed about how he was responsible for Harry's parent's deaths and how he is connected to the boy wizard.
Cast and Crew
Sadly, Richard Harris died after filming of The Chamber of Secrets. His robes were filled by Sir Michael Gambon. The understated way that he played the character allowed all the other characters to perform at their hammiest, yet he was still often the best thing on the screen. At the time of writing, Gambon remains the only actor in the series with a corner of the Top Gear track named after him.
Alfonso Cuarón took over as director from Columbus, who became one of the producers. The source material is both that bit darker and a bit more adult and the film reflects that. It also reflects Alfonso Cuarón being a better director, as this is often regarded as the high water mark of the series. One of the things that the director did was change the visualisation and layout of the school, pretty much ruining the continuity of the series in that aspect.
Gary Oldman, one of the great English screen villains, came in to play Sirius Black with a manic energy and inner madness that Oldman excels at. Emma Thomson is introduced as Professor Trelawney and takes it on herself to ham it up so much that her lessons are not suitable for vegans! Special Guest Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher of the film is David Thewlis as Remus Lupin and he plays it pretty much to perfection as a world-weary, friendly father figure. Timothy Spall played Peter Pettigrew, Ron's Rat. Dawn French takes on the role of the Fat Lady, the lady in the portrait that guards the Gryffindor tower entrance.
Sitara Shah and Jennifer Smith joined the kids as Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown and there was also a new, unnamed minion for Draco. Ian Brown of the Stone Roses appears in the Leaky Cauldron Inn, which now seems to be run by former double bass-wielding comic Jim Tavaré5. Lenny Henry appeared as a shrunken head that talks to the driver on the Knight Bus. Perhaps it is his distractions which cause the driver to take the bus south over the River Thames to reach Charing Cross and the Leaky Cauldron.
The child actors really flourished in this film, coming into their own. Perhaps this was the result of more experience, perhaps they knew their characters better, perhaps it was better direction, but most probably it was that they were allowed to wear normal clothes for at least some of the film. Long gone were the silly pointy hats from the first film.
Differences from the Book
Flitwick's appearance changes dramatically in this film, to become a bit less goblin-like. In the books, the charms teacher was only described as small, never goblinish6. His role changes to being more of a choir master, and the actor suggests it is not the same teacher, but a close relative.
The longer book meant that more was cut to make the film. Among the details to go are:
The back story of Harry's dad and his friends. For instance, Lupin doesn't explain how he became a werewolf 7 and how Sirius and James accepted him and became animagi8 just to accompany him on his 'nights on', thereby getting the nicknames that appear on Harry's map.
Lessons, other than two Divination lessons and Hagrid's first Magical Creatures lesson.
Sirius's escape from prison, except for a brief mention.
The characters Cho Chang and Cedric Diggory, who are not introduced until the next film. This does mean that Cedric's dad is not as obnoxious to Harry in the next film, as Cedric didn't beat him in a Quidditch match9.
Snape's huge rant at Harry towards the end.
The friends don't hear from Sirius on the way home, so Ron doesn't get himself a new owl, Pigwidgeon, to replace his missing rat, and Pigwidgeon doesn't appear in any later films.
The events leading up to the climax all happen within a few hours in the film, thus compressing the time frame dramatically. When Snape confronts everybody in the shack, he comes over a lot less vindictive than in the book, probably because of the lack of any back story to explain why he would be vindictive.
The film was released in the UK in late May 2004, and in the US a few days later. Despite having one of the best box office weekends ever in the UK, the film remains the lowest grossing of the series.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
or, Harry Potter in 'Total Wipe-out'
To nobody's surprise, the third film was followed by a fourth. Making Goblet of Fire was a much harder task, as Rowling's book had not only been written for older readers, but was twice as long as its predecessor. Almost all the details of the book that didn't relate to Harry's quest to win the Tri-Wizard Cup are omitted from the film.
Cast and Crew
New additions for this film were Robert Pattinson10 as Cedric Diggory, Jeff Rawle as Amos Diggory, Katie Leung as Cho Chang, Stanislav Ianevski as Viktor Krum and Clémence Poésy as Fleur Delacour. Shefali Chowdhury took over as Parvati Patil and Afshan Azad as her sister Padma. Unlike in the book, the twins are both in the same house here. Comic legend, Eric Sykes turns up early on as Frank Bryce, just to get killed off. Frances de la Tour and Predrag Bjelac appear as the headmistress and headmaster of the two rival schools. Roger Lloyd Pack comes over suitably weird as Barty Crouch, but adding in a level of game show host to the strict persona. David Tennant adds to the male eye candy as Barty Junior.
Ralph Fiennes brings out both the charm and inner violence of a true psychopath as Lord Voldemort. One of Britain's great actresses, Miranda Richardson, plays Rita Skeeter, and yet again, produces a memorable, if not subtle, performance. The Guest Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher of the film is Brendan Gleeson as Barty Crouch Junior pretending to be Alastor Moody. He benefits from having one of the best entrances of any character in the series. Jarvis Cocker of Pulp makes a cameo appearance as lead singer of the band at the Yule Ball. The band also features members of Pulp and Radiohead. This would have been interesting for the musicians, because one would assume that the Radiohead members would have never seen people smiling before at their gigs.
After the last film, it could be expected that the three child stars would move up a level again in their portrayals, but there are some cringe-worthy moments, probably not helped by a clunky script. Radcliffe and Grint do seem uncomfortable in their parts in the scene where Ron eulogises over the Bulgarian Quidditch team and where the two best friends reconcile.
Differences from the Book
Most of the differences from the book involve scenes, characters and sub-plots which have been omitted. The film starts in the Weasley's home, the Burrow, rather than with the Dursleys. Harry's Muggle family should be thankful, as this means that they could avoid meeting wizards and having their house half demolished. In fact, they don't appear at all in the film. Amos Diggory is a much more pleasant father and nowhere near as pushy. The Quidditch World Cup is over very quickly: the film makers avoided having to do another Quidditch match by skipping straight to the celebrations afterwards. The whole sub-plot with Bagshot betting with the twins and goblins, and in fact Bagshot himself, were omitted from the film.
Notably absent also is the sub-plot involving Winky the House Elf, which inspired Hermione to start her quest for Elf rights. By not having Winky in the film, they couldn't use the book's explanation of how Barty Junior escapes by switching with his mother. Instead it just seemed like Barty Junior escaped, without being noticed, from a maximum security prison. Barty Crouch Senior doesn't end up trapped at home; instead he is killed only after recognising his son's mannerisms in Professor Moody. The missing Ministry official is not mentioned, so no time is spent finding out how the bad guys came to know of the Tri-Wizard Tournament. The only classes left in the film are Moody's first lesson on the Unforgiveable Curses and a dancing lesson. In the film, it turns out that Neville, who is no longer that small and round-faced, is a superb dancer. And without Dobby in the film, Neville ends up helping Harry in the second task.
Beauxbatons' pupils are all girls in the film, in contrast to the book, and their arrival, in which they all turn up as thin, flirty femmes with simpering sighs and conjuring magical petals, is nice and chauvinistic. On the other hand, they are not Veelas as in the book, and Harry and Ron do not spend a lot of time lusting after Fleur. While the dragon task was expanded to produce a full action scene, the final task was shortened and many of the dangers removed. The film ends pretty much in Hogwarts, so Hermione doesn't reveal that Rita Skeeter is, in fact, a Beetle12. Nor does Fudge start on the path of refusing to believe in the return of Voldemort. In the film, Harry doesn't try to give away the Cup winnings to the Diggorys, nor does he loan it to the Weasley twins to start their joke shop.
While the film has a slightly darker tone, it has its lighter moments. Much of the comedy from the book is removed, and a lot of the laughs are now provided by David Bradley's Argus Filch being inept.
The film arrived in November 2005 and was, as expected, a major success. It surpassed the two previous films in box office terms.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
or, Harry Potter in 'DA Confidential'
This film sees Harry as the centre of a plot by the Ministry of Magic to discredit him and hide the fact that the Dark Lord has returned. He has to contend with both an evil Ministry employee who obtains a position at the school and having weird visions about doors. He responds by building up his own army and raiding the Ministry.
The Order of the Phoenix is the longest book of the series, so even more of the sub-plots and scenes had to be cut. The film, which ended up as the shortest of the films at the time of writing, was scripted prior to the release of the final book. This means that little incidental things like Sirius's two-way mirror, which have no importance in the Order of the Phoenix but prove a vital plot point in the last book, do not appear.
David Yates took over direction, aiming to make what was a treatise on totalitarian control and propaganda into a darker and more edgy cinematic experience. The film certainly had an air of Tim Burton about it.
Cast and Crew
Adding to the Burton-ness of the film was Helena Bonham Carter, Burton's wife, as Bellatrix Lestrange, once again hamming it up to provide an insane villain. After Rowling jumped in to save the character, suggesting he would be needed later on, the house-elf Kreacher was animated and voiced by Timothy Bateson, although his snout was modelled as a long pointed nose. Jessica Stevenson voiced the letter of Mafalda Hopkirk and Natalia Tena played Nymphadora Tonks, the Dark Wizard catcher, but did away with her excessive clumsiness. George Harris plays Kingsley Shacklebolt. Evanna Lynch is impressively spaced out as Luna Lovegood13.
The film's Special Guest Teacher was Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge. Quiet of voice and pink of cardigan, she created a screen villainess not seen since Margaret Thatcher made her last appearance as Prime Minister.
While the adults perform with their usual flair, the three leads' portrayals were a mixed bag. Harry's character had much less of the anger that he had in the books, although it is not clear whether this was due to the actor or director. Rupert Grint continued to grow into his role as Ron. It was rumoured that Emma Watson was thinking that this would be her last film, and it showed. All her lines were delivered in either 'furrowed eyebrows and sounding exasperated' or 'furrowed eyebrows and sounding enthused' modes.
Differences from the Book
Huge chunks of the book were omitted in order to fit into standard film length:
The whole Quidditch story, including Ron making the team and hence his character development and Harry and the twins being banned, didn't make the film. For the second film in a row, they got away without having a Quidditch match on screen.
Kenneth Branagh didn't turn up as Gilderoy Lockhart as the whole hospital scene was removed, including the assassination of a member of the Department of Mysteries. Neville had to fill Harry in on his parent's fate himself in the Room of Requirement. Since Dobby doesn't return either, Neville was also the guy who found the room.
We never find out who sends the Dementor attack. This is in true Film Noir traditions that some plot threads are just left untied.
A massive opportunity was lost to show some of comedic dark magic that was lurking in Sirius's house, as it remains uncleaned.
Although they are filmed getting on and off the train, none of the scenes on the Hogwarts Express make the film.
Most of the lessons at the school were lost, except for some of the Defence against the Dark Arts lessons and some of Snape's private lessons with Harry.
Rita Skeeter does not return in the book, so Harry's reveal-all interview never takes place. This pretty much loses Luna's major involvement in the book until the climax. Instead, she turns up in the film to provide sage advice to Harry as well as introducing him to the thestrals.
Harry doesn't dwell on Snape's memories, and so doesn't contact Sirius and Lupin via the fire.
When things come to a breaking point in the school, we don't get to see Hagrid leaving, and the fight surrounding that, or the attack on Professor McGonagall. Professor Trelawney does get sacked, but we don't see Dumbledore bring in a replacement in the form of the Centaur.
Although Harry tries to contact Sirius before leaving for the ministry, he doesn't get to talk to anybody, so they can't be betrayed by Kreacher.
As well as omitting bits, other methods were used to speed things up: in order to do away with endless expositions, the film returns to that age-old cliché, the spinning newspaper. As with all newspapers in the Potter universe, the images and words move about, making it just that bit more magical. In another cliché, we also get a training montage for the DA14, just without the power rock accompaniment.
The film pretty much follows the book to start with, except that Dudley confronts Harry instead of the other way around. In a change from the previous films, Dementors now have faces and no hoods. Back at the Dursleys', Harry gets expelled, but no letters arrive to unexpel him, to tell him to stay inside (Mrs Figg does that) and no letter arrives to haunt his aunt. The Order of the Phoenix arrive the same day to retrieve him.
In the book, the Order, under the command of Mad-Eye Moody, take all possible precautions to avoid being seen, including flying through clouds, avoiding motorways and doubling back on themselves. In the film, they manage to race down the middle of the River Thames, dodging boats. Of course, this is done because all films expected to sell in America that are set in London have to have gratuitous shots of the Thames in them.
In the book, Professor McGonagall has several key scenes where she faces off against Professor Umbridge. Only her argument over punishing the students makes it into the film. While it could be considered that this removes a few scenes that don't really build the story up, it does rob us of what would likely have been some spellbinding performances by Dame Maggie Smith.
In the second film, Hermione was quite forthright in saying the Dark Lord's name; after all, she has been brought up in the non-wizarding world. However, in this film, she is back to being nervous about using it.
Cho's role changes substantially from the book. Yes, she still kisses Harry, but they never seem to go any further, as she doesn't have a date with Harry on Valentine's Day. In the film, it is she, not her friend, who betrays Dumbledore's Army to the authorities. And for some reason, she seems to be in Harry's year, but when she was introduced in the books, she was a year older.
Instead of sneaking a look at Snape's memories and seeing how Harry's father used to taunt Snape, Harry accidentally finds out using magic, but Snape's reaction is the same, stopping the private lessons.
The Weasley twins' leaving was scaled down, with just some fireworks rather than swamps and mating Catherine wheels.
The set for the Ministry of Magic was of an epic scale, 200 foot long (the largest set ever in the series) with large banners featuring the Minister adding to the totalitarian theme. Most of the rooms of the Department of Mysteries were ignored. Again, this traded off the opportunity for some impressive CGI and magic with keeping everything going. However, the rooms they did use were, again, masterpieces of fantasy. In this, like the previous film, wizards seem to fly leaving behind them a trail of smoke (either white if they are good or black if they are bad). This doesn't relate to anything from the books.
As in the book, there is little actual explanation of the arch that Sirius falls though, but in the film it just seems even more out of place and unnecessary.
The final battle was obviously something that everybody involved in the production was looking forward to. One would assume that lots of enthusiastic people spent days running around with storyboards suggesting moves for Dumbledore or Voldemort to perform. At the end of the day, it does not disappoint: the confrontation, set in the vast atrium set, is spectacular. IMAX viewers got to see the last 20 minutes in 3-D. One bonus of the film medium is that they could show how Harry's compassion and love for his friends, in the form of a flashback montage, defeated his possession by Voldemort, instead of Dumbledore having to spend ages explaining it afterwards. We in fact lose a lot of the exposition from the end of the film, so we never find out that Neville could just as easily have been the chosen one.
Opening in July 2007, the movie went on to become the second biggest film of the year in terms of box office, behind the last of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Or, Lord Voldemort in 'Who Do You Think You Are?'
The sixth story sees Harry Potter learn more about his enemy and begin to find out the enormity of the fight to kill the now outed Dark Lord. Something unfortunate also happens to Dumbledore.
Cast and Crew
David Yates carries on in the director's chair, with the writer of the first four films, Steve Kloves, back on script duties. As usual, a lot of the old cast returned, and were augmented by new actors. Helen McCrory appears at the start as Narcissa Malfoy with cage fighter Dave Legeno as Fenrir Greyback15, the rather hairy werewolf. Jessie Cave is brought in as a replacement Lavender Brown. Among the other new children was Rob Knox as Marcus Belby. Tragically, before release, Knox was stabbed outside a bar in Sidcup, south-east London and the film was dedicated to his memory. The parts of Tom Riddle as a boy and as a teen were played by Hero Fiennes-Tiffin and Frank Dillane respectively. Fiennes-Tiffin is the nephew of regular Voldemort, Ralph Fiennes.
Special Guest teacher was Jim Broadbent as Professor Slughorn, the new Potions Master. Again, we have a veteran British actor putting in a sterling performance. This time, less camping up and overacting is needed, and Broadbent is as subtle as the nature of the film allows in creating a tragicomic figure. With the book being, again, very long for a film adaptation, lots of scenes and sub-plots were missed out. Because of this, a few characters that may have been expected to feature were not included. Bill Nighy was the face that came to mind when many people read the descriptions of the new Minister for Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour. He was the first choice for the role, but the scenes featuring him were lost from the script, so he didn't feature. However, he is confirmed for the next film. Ron's brother Percy doesn't appear in the film. Neither do Bill and Fleur, as their engagement is glossed over, as is the relationship between Tonks and Lupin, although both of them appear in the film, briefly. Despite the film's title, Prince Harry does not make a cameo appearance. There are yet again no elf appearances.
The younger actors' performances are all much better in this film. Tom Felton gets the chance to add something to his role, Radcliffe and Watson both produce a range of believable emotions, and Rupert Grint continues to improve with every film. Bonnie Wright makes the best of being given a larger role and has come on a long way from the little girl who could do a wide-eyed look well.
Differences from the Book
Instead of starting with Fudge and Scrimgeour explaining to the Prime Minister about the return of the Dark Lord and how all the disasters were the result of dark wizards and giants, we get an intro sequence of wizards destroying the Millennium Footbridge. So we obviously get more shots of the Thames just to prove we are indeed in London. This is the second film where the Dursleys don't appear; again they miss out on having a conversation with a proper wizard. Instead of picking Harry up from the Dursleys' and so explaining why it was important that Harry lived there, Dumbledore ruins Harry's prospects of pulling a waitress when he takes him away from Surbiton16 station. Sirius' will isn't dealt with, so we don't find out that Harry now owns the house in Grimmauld Place and is the new master of Kreacher (who, in the film story, hasn't betrayed him). We don't get to find out about the trio's exam results, and the film skips quickly to the twin's joke shop, which is a great, colourful piece of set design that must be one of the most delightful creations in the whole series. Sadly, the film misses the last opportunity to show Ginny's infamous Bat Bogey Hex, on the Hogwarts Train. For the first time in the series, this film makes reference to Ginny's popularity with the boys, with her dating Dean causing jealousy in Harry and many of the males in the audience. As a minor change, it is Luna rather than Tonks who finds a trapped Harry in the train.
Tom Felton, who plays Draco, finally gets a meaty part to get his teeth into, although since he spends most of his time wearing a black polo neck and jacket, looking dramatic and whipping a cloth off a large cabinet, one could mistake him for auditioning to be a Las Vegas magician. The whole plot involving the cabinet is spelt out for the audience, as it needs to be since the object doesn't appear in any of the previous films. The trailers said that this movie was the one where you find out about the past of Tom Riddle, and how he grew to become Lord Voldemort. In the book, Dumbledore shows Harry the memories concerning his family, his return to the school and the crimes that he would commit. These don't appear in the film. In fact, only two flashbacks are featured, rather short-changing the promise of the trailer, as well as leaving the characters unaware of the Dark Lord's fondness for everything connected to the school. Like all the longer stories, most of the lessons are cut except for those of the new teacher: in this case, Potions class. While the romance between the adults is ignored, we do get Ginny and Dean coupling up as well as Ron and Lavender, and we see Harry and Hermione emoing17 over them. Cormac McLaggen (Freddie Stroma) appears as the sleazy Scotsman who wants to do unmentionable things to Hermione, and he plays the part well. Fortunately, the screen writers rewrote the Harry and Ginny story to include more tense moments between them with unfortunate interruptions. They finally get together in the Room of Requirement, avoiding the rather contrived after-match snog of the book. Rupert Grint's unsubtle interruptions are superb examples of how he has grown as an actor with some excellent comic timing.
Quidditch returns to the films, with Ron now joining the team. Like the other films, there is only one match, with none of the other matches even mentioned. One major scene was added that wasn't in the book, and it seems to necessitate major changes in the forthcoming films to work around it. During Christmas, the Death Eaters attack and set fire to the Burrow. This being the setting for most of the start of the final book, it will either have to be magically repaired or things will have to take place elsewhere. Professor Trelawney does not have a part in this movie. As a result, Harry does not leave for the sea cave having found out that it was Snape who gave the Dark Lord the information that led to his parents' death. The sea cave where Dumbledore and Harry try to acquire the horcrux was too large to be built as a whole, so it was a virtual set. The animators spent many months on both the fire effects and making the undead not act like regular film zombies. Back at the castle, we find that the screen writers have changed the Big Ending. The Order of the Phoenix and Dumbledore's army are not there on guard, so we don't have a major battle. Instead of Dumbledore paralysing Harry when he was under his cloak as he heard Draco coming up to the top tower, he tells Harry to hide and stay silent. It isn't clear why this change was made as it doesn't really affect the story or flow of the film. It does however mean that Harry isn't actually powerless to act before the unfortunate thing happens to Dumbledore.
Although the film was ready for release in the autumn of 2008, the company chose to delay it till the following summer, perhaps to cash in on summer audiences. The film was well received, and in America it broke various records including the biggest-grossing midnight screening.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
or, Harry Potter in 'Carry on Camping'
The silver screen version of the final books is yet to be released (as of October 2009), so the following section is based on media reports, rumours and speculation.
Harry, Ron and Hermione head off on a road trip to find the secret behind Lord Voldemort's power; meanwhile they find out some truths about themselves. And Dumbledore's death in the previous film doesn't stop him getting involved too.
The biggest problem with the film would be fitting the story into the confines of a feature film. In the previous films, excess elements of the book could be removed, but the final book had very little in the way of sub-plots. The only one was the story of the Deathly Hallows themselves, which couldn't really be left out, since that would be the name of the film. Faced with that, and possibly the desire to make as much cash from the franchise as possible while they could, they decided to make two films, splitting the book down the middle. This was a move considered but rejected for The Goblet of Fire.
As well as having to make two cohesive films and tie up all the loose ends in the story, the films have to deal with all the plot holes created by their predecessors. The first five films were written before the final book was released to the public, so the filmmakers did not anticipate all the little details that were in the books that are finally revealed to be of importance in the Harry's quest to save the world.
Cast and Crew
Director David Yates returns to direct the screen versions of the final book. It was reported to be offered to both Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro, but both were busy.
Pretty much all of the cast are set to return to make the films, which are being filmed back to back. Jamie Waylett is not returning to the cast as Crabbe. Waylett was stopped by the police after taking a photo of a police car. This was rather stupid as the car he was in contained an amount of cannabis. By looking at the photos on his camera, the police decided to raid the actor's home and found a small cannabis farm. It is expected that Goyle will have to be killed instead of Crabbe. Emma Thomson is too busy to return to her role as the divination Professor.
Domhnall Gleeson, Brendan Gleeson's son, appears as Bill Weasley. Jamie Campbell Bower, who had hoped to be cast as a teen Tom Riddle in the previous film, instead plays Gellert Grindelwald in this episode. Andy Linden takes the part of Mundungus Fletcher. Linden appeared in the ill-fated Lock Stock series, inspired by the film of the same name starring Nick Moran. Moran himself plays Scabior in the Deathly Hallows films, a member of a group that captures wizards on the run (and presumably anybody else they bump into). In terms of big name actors, we get Bill Nighy finally making it to the screen as Rufus Scrimgeour, the Minister for Magic. Rhys Ifans joins the cast as Luna's father Xenophilius.