The Best Harry Potter Scenes That Were Never Filmed
For me, Harry Potter and the Motion Picture Event of a Generation began in earnest at a small cinema in Holland. Since then I have worshipped at the altar of all things Potter, impatiently awaiting the next instalment of everyone’s favourite film franchise while likely stenciling a lightning scar onto my shameless forehead.
However, while the Harry Potter film franchise has been a largely successful endeavour (read John’s foamingly passionate review of the finale here), there’s no denying that ever since Chris Columbus took his spreadsheets and pedestrianism to Camp Half-Blood, or wherever Percy Jackson failed creative writing, the franchise has been taking increasing liberties. While David Yates – the director seeing the saga through to its endgame following his hiring for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – has made his own innovations, he also has a heavy burden of guilt to bear for scrapping fan favourite scenes from the final three source novels.
With the franchise due to end at midnight tonight (I practically slept with my tickets), it’s about time we paid tribute to the most sorely missed casualties. While the loss of some intricacies will unlikely outrage – seriously, who wanted to see a Bat Bogey Hex cast on the big screen anyway? – other scenes had some serious potential. Here, then, is a list of the seven greatest Harry Potter scenes and sequences that we will never see onscreen (until Will Smith reboots it for his kids, that is): one for each of Rowling’s books and the films released to date.
Should you require a quick run down of the story so far, you can find my franchise retrospective here.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – The Troll Room
Towards the end of the book, just as Harry, Ron and Hermione have escaped a three-headed dog, fought their way through some Devil’s Snare and played a quick game of chess, Harry and Hermione encounter a fifth obstacle in the form of the mountain troll from Hallowe’en. Though already defeated by the soon to be ex-professor Quirrell, the extra challenges (the following potions riddle is apparently available as a special feature) not only better demonstrate the magical protection afforded the Philosopher’s stone but give our heroes slightly more to do.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – De-gnoming
Described as potatoes with legs – and about as intelligent as that might suggest – gnomes are a (grudgingly) permanent fixture in the Weasley garden. Though you mightn’t have actually missed this scene per se, the fact that the species crop up in every book in the series – bar Order of the Phoenix – surely means they merit an introduction.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – The Creation of the Marauder’s Map
Though we see the map and how it winds up in Harry’s possession – inherited as it is from the Weasley twins – we discover little of the item’s own history. Messrs. Moony (Remus Lupin), Wormtail (Peter Pettigrew), Padfoot (Sirius Black), and Prongs (James Potter) play such a large part in the story – and the Marauder’s Map features so frequently throughout the series – that it deserves further explanation. Even to this day little is known about James Potter, despite the fact that the steady drip of revelations are an engrossing and important fixture of the novels.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – The Quiddich World Cup
Following the brief glimpse of gameplay afforded by Prisoner of Azkaban, the wizarding sport takes a two film hiatus while the filmmakers make room for the Triwizard Tournament and the formation of Dumbledore’s Army. However, having only so far watched a bunch of incompetent teenagers zip about in front of some greenscreen – at least until a timely plot development stops the game – it would have been interesting to see Quiddich played professionally. I suppose we will just have to make do with over-enthused fanatics running around with broomsticks hanging between their legs.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – Valentines Day
While approximately half of the novel is unceremoniously ditched in translation, the most evident omission from David Yates’ Order of the Phoenix is Harry and Cho Chang’s encounter on Valentine’s Day. While in the movie Harry kisses Cho only for her to disappear for the next hour, in the book their subsequent awkward interaction in Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop signals the beginning of the end of their faltering relationship. In a film which expertly paints Harry as a petulant teenager, it would have been nice to take a moment off from the plot to watch Harry fail miserably at sexual politics.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – The Dark Mark
Whereas Yates previously sacrificed the quieter, more character-driven moments for plot and action, he has clearly taken on board criticism and instead resolved to make up for it by sacrificing action in the name of character. As such, we get plenty of shots of wizards and witches snogging at the expense of one of the most potentially breathtaking action set pieces to date. Harry Potter visits Voldemort’s favourite cave, check; Draco Malfoy lets the Death Eaters into the school, check; Snape kills Dumbledore, check. However, while all of this is going on the rest of the student body barely fidget in their sleep. In the book, however, Ron and Hermione lead the rest of Dumbledore’s Army in a rousing counter-attack against Bellatrix and her ilk, leaving one particular Weasley on the wrong side of a raging werewolf. Cut to avoid repetition, Yates clearly forgot that the following instalment wouldn’t even feature Hogwarts.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I – The Tonks Residence
In the book, the plan to disguise six alternative Harrys is a much more lengthy and intricate operation. Rather than simply ‘fly to The Burrow and try not to die’, the plan involves a number of separate locations, each of which is linked to the Weasley homestead by way of timed Portkey. A small modification, it not only makes the Death Eaters look even less competent but erases Tonks’ family altogether. Ted Tonks – father to the punky auror Nymphadora – should crop up again later as a fugitive alongside Dean Thomas and Griphook before being captured, and then killed, by Snatchers.
While many fans were initially outraged at the creative license taken by some directors over Rowling’s hallowed source material, it is now clear that little of consequence really was completely lost in translation. Fans would have perhaps been more lenient to David Yates, however, if he hadn’t dropped such cherished sequences and subplots in favour of needlessly (though seriously bad-assishly) destroying The Burrow. Not to mention inflicting The Ordinary Boys on the wizarding world…