Some new footage from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 was shown at Cinema Con, and afterwards Potter producer David Heyman sat down with Cinema Blend to talk about what from the novels is going to be included in the film, and what will be changed. Their conversation included some pretty specific spoilers about the end of the film, but presumably most people have already read the books; so giving away story details isn’t as big of a deal as it might be normally.
If you’re one of the people who haven’t read the books, and who would like to see Deathly Hallows: Part 2 without any idea of what it has in store, then you should probably not read this article. Or, you know, do it anyways and then bitch about how stuff was given away in the comments section. Either way is good.
The major changes that take place between the book and the film seem to be in the way the Battle of Hogwarts is presented. While it is confirmed that the big, destructive battle is still how the story will climax, the locations and specifics will play out a little differently. When Snape and McGonagall have their confrontation, it happens in the Great Hall, rather than in some anonymous corridor. A bigger deal is made of Snape’s final confrontation with Harry as well. It seems that the goal of the filmmakers was to stay true to the spirit of what happens in the book, but make it hit harder, boom louder, and resonate more from a character perspective.
Heyman says, “ … like you saw in the footage today, the statues coming to life [during the Battle of Hogwarts] — that’s not in the book. It’s quite a percussive ending, and we wanted to have some good magic.” He added, “Snape’s role in the film is minimal, and it was minimal in the second half of the book, and yet you wanted to have the emotional investment when you see his past story [the memory Harry views in the Pensieve]. We wanted to build that up in order for it to have its emotional impact.” It sounds to me like they’re focusing on all the right things. I’m not doubtful that they could actually improve on Rowling’s ending by ramping up the action and playing up the big moments more than she did in her prose.
Heyman’s comments about Snape and the Pensieve confirm some very important things that will be included in the film as well. We will get the flashback sequence of Snape’s memories that explains his seemingly traitorous actions in the previous installments and allows for another chance at seeing the dearly departed Albus Dumbledore up on the big screen.
Heyman says of these sequences, “ … what I love about these films, what I love about the books, is that all the action, adventure and magic, what means most to me is the character stuff, the slow stuff. I love having the time to tell the story. I’m really happy about breaking the book into two films, it gives us the time to really spend time with the characters and have the moments such as the flashback, Dumbledore at King’s Cross. If we had done it as one film, we would have lost the Snape flashback.”
This is an interesting look at what the people behind the scenes of the Potter movies were thinking about when they decided to make Deathly Hallows into two films. If Heyman is to be believed, then the decisions they’re making when adapting the books deal with story and character first, and financial logistics second. Personally, I would have been upset if they had excised the bits about Snape’s past. By the end of the books he becomes probably the most interesting, complicated character of the series, and to downplay that would have been a real shame. Plus, with this two-film structure, we got to watch Harry and Hermione have that cute little dance number in Part 1. I think they made the right choices.
The full interview goes on to talk about makeup effects used in the film’s epilogue, their thoughts on fan reactions to the films, and why they went about doing the series with multiple directors. It can be read here.