Today, June 15, 2011, the final chapter of the Harry Potter film series — Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two — was released in theaters in the United States. Like all of the films, it has proven to be a huge success. Showings are sold out on this opening night and are promising to continue to do so over the weekend. The movie stands up to its popularity. It is a great film for fantasy lovers. However, those who have read the books will notice some differences between the novel Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the second half of the Deathly Hallows film. Unlike some rather odd changes in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the Weasley house burning down), the changes in this film seem to add something to the story, or, at least, not take anything away.
*Warning: This article contains spoilers for both the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows novel and the second half of the film.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling, Harry has something of an inner monologue regarding whom to speak to first in Shell Cottage — Ollivander the wand maker or Griphook the Goblin. Griphook will lead him to the next Horcrux and closer to defeating Voldemort. Ollivander will help him learn more about the Deathly Hallows — objects that would make him immortal. He shows his strength by choosing to speak to Griphook first. This is the same in both the film and the novel. However, there is no emphasis made on this choice in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two as there was in the novel. This is a very small difference and does not take much from the film, but it is a difference, nonetheless.
Several things happen at Shell Cottage in the novel that do not happen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two. Firstly, Ollivander makes Luna a new wand, as hers broke or was taken in the Malfoy house. This is unimportant to the story, but it showed that Ollivander became fond of Luna during their time in the Malfoy dungeon. Secondly, Bill Weasley warns Harry that Griphook is not to be trusted. Harry wants Griphook to help them break into Gringott’s Bank. This is already a very dangerous task, but with a sneaky goblin, it is even worse. This is merely a foreshadowing of things to come, so it is not very important to the film.
The Contents of Bellatrix Lestrange’s Vault Do Not Burn
When Harry, Ron, Hermione and Griphook enter the Lestrange vault in Gringott’s, every item they touch multiplies, nearly crushing them. This also happens in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two. However, these items do not burn them as they did in the novel.
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a large portion of the book is dedicated to Dumbledore’s questionable past and whether Harry should trust his life to a man who left him so few clear clues as to how to kill Voldemort. A long flashback covers Dumbledore’s friendship with the bad wizard Grindelwald and about their part in Ariana Dumbledore’s death. It explains a lot about Dumbledore’s behavior and shows a less than perfect side of him. It is sadly nearly completely missing from both parts of the film. Fortunately, they left in a scene with Aberforth Dumbledore, but it left a lot of the story blank.
In the novel, Harry Potter and his friends sneak back into Hogwarts through the Room of Requirement and see all of their school allies there. The rest of the Order of the Phoenix meets them there and they take off throughout the castle. Harry goes to look for another Horcrux and Professor McGonagall eventually chases Snape out of the castle. It is some time before anyone other than Harry’s friends see him in the castle. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two, Snape learns of Harry’s arrival at Hogwarts and calls a meeting of all students and staff in the Great Hall. He tells them that they are not to harbor Harry, but Harry walks in with the Order of the Phoenix and his friends. There, he confronts Snape, which never happened in the book. It was an impressive scene, but so was the fight between McGonagall and Snape in the book. It would have been nice to see the stern McGonagall fighting Snape in her pajamas. A small fight still happened in the Great Hall, but it wasn’t the same. Another part of that fight remained, though — McGonagall calling all the stone knights of the castle to defend them.
McGonagall’s Banishing of Slytherin
Minerva McGonagall called all of the students to the Great Hall in the book. She sent all of those who would not fight for Harry and all of those who were underage from the castle for their own safety. This is indicative of Minerva’s compassion. She refused to harm the Slytherin students who were against Harry, but instead, sent them home. In Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Part Two, she has Slytherin locked in the dungeon instead. She says nothing of underage students. It is a humorous scene and one that is presumably more relatable to most audiences, but it didn’t seem like a McGonagall thing to do.
The Ravenclaw Common Room
There is a scene in the film where Harry is headed toward the Ravenclaw common room when Luna approaches him from behind. She tells him that he needs to speak with her. He is in a hurry, so he shrugs her off, but she asserts herself, demanding that he speak to her. This is an interesting scene for the soft-spoken Luna. However, it never happened in the book. In the book, they make it to the common room together and Luna opens the door by answering a complicated riddle. That displayed how intelligent Luna is, despite her odd behavior. The scene in the film depicted her as brave, which was a decent trade off.
Sadly, Fred Weasley dies during the Battle for Hogwarts in both the film and the novel. In the novel, the scene is a very touching one, as he and Percy have just reconciled and they are fighting bravely together when Fred is killed. In the film, the viewer learns of Fred’s death when they see his body alongside those of Tonks and Lupin in the Great Hall.
Ron and Hermione Kiss
It is about dang time! The moviemakers have been putting off the Hermione and Ron kiss forever. It happened books ago, but it just wasn’t happening in the films. Finally, in the Chamber of Secrets, Ron and Hermione grab a basilisk fang, are attacked by some Voldemort anger water and then kiss. The Chamber of Secrets visit was only mentioned in the book. It was not fully described, so most of this scene is stuff the moviemakers added.
Neville on the Bridge
For the most part, this writer is adamantly against adding scenes to films that were not in the books they are based on. There is no need to add anything to already great stories. However, there is an added scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two that was pleasing to see. Not only was it a surprise, but it was cool. Neville Longbottom is standing on the footbridge that we so often see the students leaving and entering the castle to and from the grounds on. A multitude of dark wizards rushes toward him and he stands his ground. Thankfully, the shield around the castle was still holding at the point. He taunts them, but they later break through. He runs from them, destroying the bridge behind him and taking out the enemy force with it.
Neville Kills Nagini
This difference was done for an obvious reason — suspense. It might have been done to make hardcore fans irked until the real deal went down as well. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Neville cuts the head off Nagini the moment he pulls the sword of Gryffindor out of the Sorting Hat. In the film, Voldemort knocks him back. While Neville is incapacitated, we are lead to think Harry might kill it, then Ron, then Hermione and then Neville comes out of nowhere and chops its head off while Harry is fighting Voldemort. Nagini is dead before that final showdown in the novel, but it was suspenseful, so it will do.
Harry’s Broken Wand
In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One, and in the novel, Harry’s wand breaks in Godric’s Hollow. In the end, he fixes it with the Elder Wand before getting rid of it. In the film, there is no further mention of Harry’s wand and he simply breaks the Elder Wand and tosses it off the school bridge. There is emphasis on his choice to rid himself of all the Deathly Hallows, except his father’s cloak, so at least the point was made.
There are other, small, differences between the novel and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two, such as scenes in different places or scenes happening out of order, but they will not change much of the story for viewers who have not read the books. There is also the small matter of substituting tears for memories, but the end result was the same. It is expected that some things will be different and many people will not like it. Chances are, the film will not suffer for it.