In this feature, absurdical tackles the recent release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the impact of changes made in its journey from book to film, and the overall questions faced when realistically adapting a novel so rich in detail and world building into a palatable film.
Providing the counterpoint is 19-year-old absurdical, who in 2004 is endlessly reloading The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet for the latest news on the production and upcoming release of Alfonso Cuarón’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and is quite concerned about the choices being made in adopting this pivotal book in the series. Let’s begin. Present absurdical, the floor is yours.
POINT FROM PRESENT-DAY ABSURDICAL: Okay, DH2 is totally the best of the eight Potter films and here’s why: IT CUT THE CRAP AND GOT TO THE POINT, which is EVERYONE DIES and — no, seriously, EVERYONE DIES. Also, it really accentuates the main arc of the Potter universe, which is that the series should have been called Severus Snape and the Crap He Took from You, Harry Potter, Because Your Mom was Perfect and Your Dad was a Cunt.
DH2 came in at just about two hours and that was fantastic. What did we really lose? All that bullshit speechifying in the Great Hall about the power of love and absolute power corrupts absolutely? FUCK THAT. LET’S FLY THROUGH THE AIR AND MORPH OUR FACES WITH RALPH FIENNES, totally not thinking of the inevitable fanvid where this sequence is slowed down and the score is replaced by the Spice Girls’s 2 Become 1. The changes made were worth making; better to have an exciting film than to have most of your audience fall asleep during Hour 4 of Hallmark Presents: Can’t Buy or Torture Me Love, Voldemort, So You. Will. Lose. Let Me Explain How! In Agonizing Detail!
COUNTERPOINT FROM 19-YEAR-OLD ABSURDICAL IN 2004: WHAT?!!?!?!?! WHO THE FUCK IS DAVID THEWLIS?!?!!? WHY ARE HE AND HARRY TALKING ON THIS SCENIC MAKEOUT BRIDGE? WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!?!?!!? YOU GUYS!!!! REMUS IS A DESTITUTE, TERMINALLY UNEMPLOYED WEREWOLF WITH TRUST ISSUES AND AN EMOTIONALLY DAMAGED, SPOTTY PAST — HOW COULD HE AFFORD ALL THOSE EXTRA CHINS?!?!?! oh my god i bet he sold everything sirius left in their ~shared rooms~ because they were ~so in love~ and then sirius betrayed lily and james and ~broke his heart~ — NO. THIS IS NOT OKAY. DID JOHN WATERS SAY THEWLIS COULD BORROW THAT MUSTACHE? THIS IS SUCH FUCKING BULLSHIT. CUARON, YOU ARE ON NOTICE, MOTHERFUCKER. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.
POINT FROM PRESENT-DAY ABSURDICAL: Oh no, I wailed, what do you mean they cut out the 200 pages of wandlore from the book? And the elaborate backstory of a ghost in the castle who’s been hanging around for 7 books but finally gets 30 pages to herself to talk about some other ghost who doesn’t matter and the costume jewelry that came between them? Look, the changes made were made for good visual storytelling, so when Ginny’s dialogue is reduced to “good luck” and “NOOOOOOOO” and a kiss on the stairway, it’s because she’s more useful to Harry and the narrative flow when she doesn’t talk. You get a lot more out of Ginny when you can just look at her and know that if Harry lives through this, he will get to hit that, and that’s what really matters.
COUNTERPOINT FROM 19-YEAR-OLD ABSURDICAL IN 2004: AW HALE NO.
IS THAT — MR. CUARON, IS THAT A WEREWOLF? IS THAT SUPPOSED TO BE A FUCKING WEREWOLF? Look, buddy, I don’t mean to be racist (I do; it’s okay though, I’m Hispanic, you’re Hispanic, it’s cool, it’s like siblings teasing each other — you mean every word of it until someone cries and tells Mom, you little bitch, but just remember that snitches get stitches and I can pick your bedroom lock faster than you can pick your nose), but is this some kind of cultural thing where weird creatures are always bipeds (lookin’ at you, renderings of the chupacabra) so you had to bring your lil’ bit of flair to “1993” England and give us a fucking WERECHINCHILLA or a VELOCIWOLF or whatever the fuck this is? You have COMPLETELY RUINED my mental image of Remus and Sirius curled up together as quadraped canines somewhere in the woods outside London while Remus suffered through the full moon and Sirius gently nuzzled his neck and got him through it, and then they changed back into humans, tended to each other’s wounds, and had hot still-looked-down-upon manlove. You have ruined everything, sir, and I will never forgive you.
POINT FROM PRESENT-DAY ABSURDICAL: Here’s the thing — when you’re working with a book as detailed as Deathly Hallows, or any of the Potter books, or Tolkien, maybe even that Game of Thrones thing I might never read, you’re working with something finite — IT’S CALLED MY ATTENTION SPAN. Do I want to hear Dumbledore babble endlessly about the nature of life and death, or do I want to see Jason Isaacs get bitchslapped in a boathouse? I want to see Jason Isaacs get bitchslapped in a boathouse, and if you ask Jason Isaacs, I think he’d say the same, too.
COUNTERPOINT FROM 19-YEAR-OLD ABSURDICAL IN 2004: JESUCHRISTO DE LOS SANTOS, WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO YOUR FUCKING FACE. DO I START WITH THOSE TWO CATERPILLARS FIGHTING FOR YOUR UPPER LIP? WHAT ABOUT THOSE SCARS? shit, can dogs really claw themselves across the face like that? WHO ARE YOU? WHAT ARE YOU?
Okay, look, I’ve come to the conclusion that this movie is going to SUCK THE HAIRIEST WERECHINCHILLA BALLS THAT EVER BALLED, not just because the plot of the book itself makes no sense and because there’s no way the pivotal scene in the novel (HUGGED HIM LIKE A BROTHER!!!!) is going to make it into this movie intact, but because this guy, this fucking guy, just doesn’t GET the source material. Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban is about the Prisoner of Azkaban and the bittersweet memories of that prisoner and his werewolf boyfriend and their lost friends, their lost youths, and the future they can still make for themselves with this second chance they’ve been given. Oh, and the kid with terrible eyesight they’re totally going to adopt.
IF FUCKING CUARON HADN’T THROWN ALL THAT AWAY AND SMUGGLED ALL THAT HOPE INTO THOSE JOWLS — I MEAN SHIT, CAN YOU BRING THAT ON BOARD LIKE CARRYON OR DO YOU NEED TO CHECK THAT SHIT.