English Literature

20 years of Harry Potter: Why HP Books Still Rule Over the Movies?

harry Potter

Lost in translation: Why the Harry Potter books rule over the movies

It gives a more personal touch to the story and it connects with the individual in a way that no visual representation can.

Let’s ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ this moment. Yes, let’s suspend this moment in midair for just a while and look back on what a journey it’s been since we met the boy who lived under the staircase at Privet Drive. It’s been 20 years since but the memories are as good as new. For most of us this adventure started in the late 90’s, 1997 to be precise when the first book came out and for the others, it was four years later when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone hit the theaters. And thus began the battle of supremacy. Are the books better or the movies?

And like the horcruxes that were destroyed, the notion that the movies are better also needs to be put down for good. For each horcrux that bit the dust, I’ll give you one reason why the books reign supreme.

“Dear Diary,” stop right there. This is no ordinary diary. Myrtle died so that Tom Riddle (aka Voldemort) could preserve a piece of his soul in this diary. It was also the first horcrux that was unknowingly destroyed, exactly how the movies unknowingly curbed imagination as opposed to the books. The books open up a world of fantasy and allow imagination to run wild and free but once the story is brought out on a screen, it sets boundaries on our imagination.

Marvolo Gaunt, another casualty, another piece of the soul, another instance of loss of detail. While the Harry Potter movies did show that the ring was destroyed, it left out a lot of details regarding the story behind the ring and what were the events leading up to its creation. Not just this once, there have been a lot of times when details have been omitted in order to fit a movie in its two or three hour duration. Little tidbits on characters, snippets of conversations, smug smirks, the setting of the scene, these constitute the magic that a story carries and is inevitably lost in the making of a movie.

One Salazar Slytherin, one locket, one author. JK Rowling carried the entire series on her own shoulders and created a wonderful land of magical creatures that we associate our childhood with. The Harry Potter movies tried to emulate the same, however on some level they failed to do so due to the inconsistency in the directors. One director’s idea is rarely the same as the others and somewhere in this process of changing hands, the movies lost the flavor that the books preserved.

The Hufflepuff cup: Hufflepuffs, probably the most underrated characters in the entire series and they sure did not get the screen space they deserved in the movies. The movies undeniably did a lot of injustice to many characters in terms of their screen time. Dobby for instance was never given as much importance in the movies as in the books, as a result, his undying devotion towards Harry went underappreciated. Ginny who was depicted as a fierce, young lass in the books was reduced to being just Harry’s girlfriend in the movies. These are just a couple of examples of the atrocities committed in the movies against the minor yet important characters.

Ravenclaw’s diadem-the lost diadem, a symbol of wit and wisdom. The kind of wisdom that was lost in the making of the movies. The wisdom of character. Every individual’s character and its depth was impeccably moulded in the books, something that lacked majorly in the movies.

Nagini: ever been inside a snake’s mind? No? Neither were we in the movies. The books were a portal into the minds of the characters allowing us to understand their fears and ideas without having them to explicitly state the same, a luxury that was not available in the movies. In the movies, there is no subtle way revealing the thoughts of the character without them having a monologue. Thus the books gave us a better insight into the minds of our favourite characters.

Harry, our dear protagonist. Throughout the course of the books, we sympathized and empathized with Harry. Cried with him, celebrated with him and fought by his side against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Most of us even saw a little something of ourselves in him giving us that personal touch with the story, that bond which the movies could only hope to achieve. The books, along with all its elements of drama, mystery, hope and death carved a place for itself in our hearts that the movies can never replace. Thus, it is safe to say that the movies can never stand to replace the experience that the books provide, they can only dare to complement it.

There are perhaps more reasons than we can imagine as to why the books are better and many more for the movies but I the above mentioned ones stand out like the horcruxes throughout the series, proudly stating that books have the better claim.

 JD Salinger once said, ‘What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.’ The Harry Potter series is one such. And no visual media, I believe could come close to the joy of reading.   


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