About The Harry Potter Series
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Have you ever glanced to the skies for a long-awaited owl carrying a letter from Professor Dumbledore? If you have, you’re not alone. The Harry Potter series has captivated a wide and hungry audience. Potterheads come in all shapes, forms, and fashions. While the movie is known for staying true to the book, you would be surprised to find some interesting omissions. From missing characters to missing scenes, did movie watchers of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone miss out on some of the series magic?
In the opening chapter of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Mr. Dursley starts to see subtle signs that something is amiss in the muggle world: ‘It was on the corner of the street that he noticed the first sign of something peculiar–a cat reading a map’ (Rowling 8). Soon after, Mr. Dursley sees people dressed in strange cloaks on his way to work (Rowling 8). On the evening news, Mr. Dursley is informed of owls behaving oddly and rather than the rain forecasted for the day, “they’ve had a downpour of shooting stars!” (Rowling 10-11). Unfortunately, by skipping the book and going straight to the movie, this introduction to the wizarding world is sorely missed. The movie version jumps straight to Professor Dumbledore and the arrival of Harry Potter on the doorstep of Privet Drive. The first few pages of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone introduce us to the magic bubbling just under the surface of the muggle world and Vernon Dursley’s great distaste of anything not normal. Both themes are apparent throughout the Potter series. A little magic died when these were removed from the movie’s introduction.
More magic dissolves as we continue to see that characters mentioned in first and second chapters of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone are sadly missing from the movie. It isn’t long before the book catches up with the movie arrival of Professor Dumbledore, Harry, and Professor McGonagall. A key piece missing from this interaction is McGonagall’s mention that “on this very day You-Know-Who seems to have disappeared at last” (Rowling 14). Although we find out about You-Know-Who soon enough, he is not the only character omitted from the movie’s beginning. Siruis Black is the forgotten owner of the motorbike that escorts Harry to his visit on Privet Drive (Rowling 17). Arabella Figg and Aunt Marge are both offered as babysitters for Harry so that Dudley can enjoy his birthday (Rowling 22). The movie skims over this part of the story, even though these characters would reappear later in the series playing a significant role in a future magical event. The brief mention of these characters in the book tie into the magic of subsequent books.
Neville Longbottom is not the boy who lived, but he very well could have been. In the movie version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Neville is absent from the places he appeared in the book version. On page 79, we first meet Neville searching for his pet toad (Rowling). The movie forgets about Neville and only Hermione appears looking for Neville’s long lost toad. Neville appears again in potions class and we quickly learn that he is no potions master: “Neville had somehow managed to melt Seamus’s cauldron into a twisted blob” (Rowling 104).Harry is quickly blamed for Neville’s incompetency by being accused of not telling him to add the appropriate ingredients to his potion. (Rowling 104). The movie forgets about Neville and his un-mastering of potions. Poor Neville was not up for many adventures in the beginning of the Harry Potter series but found himself wrapped up in one anyway. As Ron and Harry sneak away for a midnight duel, Neville is found snoring in the hallway because he couldn’t remember the password to get into their common room. Afraid to be left alone waiting for the Bloody Baron, Neville joins the trio of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Rather than participating in a duel, the soon find themselves on the run from Mr. Filch and Mrs. Norris. After breaking into a locked door to avoid detection, they come face to face with the three headed dog, Fluffy. (Rowling 116-119) While this scene doesn’t escape from the movie, Neville’s adventure does. Only Harry, Ron, and Hermione are greeted by Fluffy. By the end of the Potter series, a connection between Harry and Neville becomes increasingly apparent as either boy could have been targeted by Voldemort. The glimpses of Neville that are revealed in the book help us to become more familiar with a shy boy who becomes a great hero. Neville’s special inadequate magic wasn’t given due diligence in the first film.
Throughout the Potter series we find that Harry Potter has a great love and sorely misses his family. This connection could have been established deeper in the first movie by including scenes from the book. We are first introduced to the Mirror of Erised when Harry is hiding from Professor Snape and Mr. Filch in his invisibility cloak. Ducking into what is believed to be an unused classroom, Harry finds “a magnificent mirror, as high as the ceiling with an ornate golf frame, standing on two clawed feet” (Rowling 153). Harry inspects the mirror to find not only himself but “a whole crowd of people standing right behind him” (Rowling 153). After some time Harry realizes the crowd of people are his relatives, including his mother and father (Rowling 153-154). While the movie doesn’t delete the scene completely, it waters down the depths of Harry’s yearning for a whole family by only showing his mother and father.
Although the movie’s omissions don’t drastically change the Harry Potter story, they certainly add to the magical universe. These omitted details add to the overall themes and events that happen as the series continues. Every drop of magic counts. To collect all the drops, start your Harry Potter obsession by getting lost in the in the book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.