Harry Potter: Movie v. Book Comparisons

Hey everyone! It's been a while. February-March is a busy time for us teachers, preparing for state testing and getting towards the end of the year, so I've been a bit delayed in posts. With quarantine going full steam ahead, I'm finding that I have a lot of extra time in the foreseeable future and I am going to hopefully use that to get ahead on blogging and my writing!

One of the things I was really looking forward to blog about was book versus movie comparisons. What better to start with than Harry Potter?!
Late last year I started rereading the Harry Potter series. The majority of my Harry Potter reading was done when I was a young adult. I honestly haven't read the series in probably around 10 years. I've always been a huge fan and I love watching the films, but tackling reading the series again always seemed extremely daunting and I just never picked them up.
I finally decided to just do it in November, and I haven't slowed down. I finished Book 4 this very afternoon and I've been keeping notes about key things I've noticed in regards to movie v. book differences and just general things that I have paid attention to throughout my reread. For this post, I'll be writing about Books 1-3.
Please note that these are just my own opinions and I am not the standing authority on Harry Potter knowledge. Just a nerdy fan who wants to talk about books and movies.

So here goes..

Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone  

harry potter book 1
harry potter movie 1If I had a nickel for every time sometime told me they didn't like the first Harry Potter book, I honestly would have a lot of money. The common criticism that I hear is that it is 'boring.' And to be honest, compared to the rest of the books, it definitely does not have the same amount of thrill and detail. But to me, this book does not need to be the most thrilling thing. It is the entrance to the world and the story. It's setting up literally everything else for the rest of the series and it does it well. I feel the same for the movie. I have always been a fan of the first movie. To me it has a very innocent, pure, nostalgic feel. I feel that the movie captures the feeling and atmosphere of the first book perfectly. Harry is finding out he is a wizard and he goes to a magical school full of ghosts and wizards and magic and he's 11. It's introductory and sets the scene and I think it does an excellent job. In the movie, you definitely miss out on some small things like the introduction scene between Harry and Malfoy in Madame Malkin's shop and the potion test that Harry and Hermione pass to reach the Stone, but overall I think the film is a wonderful adaptation. The Mirror is Erised scene with Harry's parents is very emotional and well done and Richard Harris as Dumbledore was nothing short of perfection. It is a shame he was only in two films as I believe he captured Dumbledore the best. I watch Sorcerer's Stone a lot and it is one of my favorite movies in the series.

Book: 4/5
Movie: 5/5

Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets
Anyone who knows me knows I am not an overly huge fan of Chamber of Secrets, neither the book nor the film. The movie scared me as a kid because of the Parseltongue whispering through the walls to Harry. I always muted my TV when I knew it was coming and even at the age of 25 it creeps me out. Saying that, however, I believe that the film and the book match extremely well. The tone and feeling are the same and I think the film is a great adaptation. 1 & 2 have a very similar feel on screen as they do on the page. I think Chamber of Secrets still carries that nostalgic, innocent feel that Sorcerer's Stone starts. You can tell that both films had the same director (Chris Columbus) and Richard Harris once again kills it as Dumbledore and overall I think the film is a solid adaptation.
In particular, the end scene with 16 year old Tom Riddle is a great one in both the book and the movie and I think the film does a great job of making it a very tense, dramatic moment. Young Voldemort is scary and intimidating and was well cast. Pretty much all main details were able to be left in the film and it really plays out the way that it does on the page.

Book: 4/5
Movie: 4/5

Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban
Prisoner of Azkaban is where things really start to change from book to movie. I had a really fun time reading this one. In fact, I read this in one sitting. My biggest takeaway about Prisoner of Azkaban is that I prefer the movie. I KNOW, I KNOW. Extremely unpopular opinion. I have heard many people say that Prisoner of Azkaban is their favorite book. However, I have come prepared with solid points to help you better understand why I think the way I do. First of all, the directing branches way off from the first two. And while I enjoy and love the first two, I think the tone change was definitely needed and is refreshing. Alfonso Curaon brings a lot of different things to the table. The movie is shot and edited differently which fits with the mood change to the story. There were also many creative differences in the film that I enjoyed, the biggest being the Lupin transformation scene. In the book, Hermione takes Buckbeak and stays in Hagrid's hut while Harry goes to find Sirius and save him with the Patronus charm. Hermione isn't with Harry when he saves himself by the lake (which I think is done extremely well in the film and was a big moment) and the whole scene with Lupin stalking the kids through the forest was also only in the film. I think the fact that that scene was added makes Lupin seem all the more terrifying. He literally cannot help what he about to do and has no sense of who the kids are. In the book, there is no confrontation with Lupin and he basically runs off by himself. Hermione dragging his attention away from Sirius by howling is also only in the film and is a great touch.
Another big difference between book to movie is the Wormtail reveal scene. It is much, much longer in the book and explains a lot more about Wormtail's motivations and the reason for Sirius being imprisoned. Honestly, if I had only watched Harry Potter as a kid and not read the books, I am not sure that I would have been able to put things like this reveal together to make sense in my mind. I've even heard from friends who have only seen the movies that they don't understand pieces or don't fully know why something is happened. Throughout my reread, I have noticed many, many things that are essential to plot and are cut in the films. I know that not every series can include everything in a film adaptation, but the Harry Potter films do suffer greatly later in the series because things are cut that help the audience make sense of why things are happening (this is definitely most evident in the book 4 adaptation, which I will cover in my next blog post).
Some more things I noticed in my reread of the book...
- Towards the end of the book, when Harry, Hermione, Ron, Lupin & Sirius are leading Wormtail and Snape out of the Shrieking Shack, Harry and Sirius have a conversation about Harry coming to live with Sirius when his name is cleared. This conversation in the film takes place while Harry & Sirius are looking up at Hogwarts and it is a moment of peace before Lupin's transformation. The moment is sweet and emotional and really gets me all choked up. In the book however, this conversation is short and brief and is happening in the tunnels under the Whomping Willow. It's really not as meaningful and just doesn't hit you in the feels quite as much. I most definitely prefer the movie version.
- Another big change was that in the book during the Wormtail reveal scene, Snape is knocked out when he enters the Shrieking Shack. The same happens in the film, but the group ends up leaving Snape in the Shrieking Shack in the film and leading Wormtail out without him. He then ends up coming under the tunnel during Lupin's transformation and shields the kids from Lupin. It really is a big moment, him protecting the kids and it is impactful when he gets hurt by Lupin. In the book, Sirius is led out by a levitation charm and is still unconscious during the entire transformation scene. He doesn't wake up until later. I definitely prefer the movie part of that scene and felt that it showed a bit of Sirius' true character.
- In the book, the Defense Against the Dark Arts lessons are way better. We are shown more detail relating to Lupin's teaching and he does a great job. However, I do think that the boggart scene is stronger in the movie. Everything generally happens in the exact same way, but it comes across better over film.
- At the end of the book, after Harry and Hermione free Sirius and he leaves on Buckbeak, they are with Ron in the hospital wing and Snape comes in and accuses them of setting him free. He basically screams and blames them in front of Dumbledore. It comes across very strange that a professor would just tear into two children, even one as cruel as Snape. It is a very harsh accusation and to me it didn't really fit what would have actually happened if Snape truly believed Harry had set Sirius free.

Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the only times in the Harry Potter series where I prefer the movie to the book. I really find the movie to be more exciting and I think the tone of the film is great. It fits well with the story and I think it is beautiful to watch. I still love the book, it is just a rare instance where my feelings on the book and movie are flipped. :)

Book: 4/5
Movie: 4.5/5

I am looking back through this now and realizing how much I wrote about Prisoner of Azkaban. YIKES. If you made it through this whole thing and actually enjoyed reading, you get my gratitude!
From now on I'll be separating the Harry Potter comparison posts and will be discussing only ONE per post. As the books go on, there are a lot more changes to the films and a lot more to discuss.

Hope you enjoyed reading my nerdy thoughts on Harry Potter. Later this week I will be posting my comparison review for Goblet of Fire and will also be getting up my review of The Silent Patient (which I am very excited to talk about!)

Until next time,


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