Top 10 ‘Harry Potter’ Moments From Page to Film (UPDATED: Now Includes Moments From ‘Deathly Hallows Part 2’)
The Harry Potter films have done a marvelous job of bringing J.K. Rowling’s novels to the silver screen. Are they as good as the books? No, but with each film there have been moments, although brief, that equal the book and even in some very rare cases surpass it. The biggest challenge the filmmakers of the franchise have had is to make sure that the fans’ favorite moments get translated as best as they can. Here are their ten most successful moments. Note: this list is based on accuracy to the book as well as matching the tone and overall feel of the novel or sequence.
UPDATE: Deathly Hallows Part 2 hits Blu-Ray this week, so I thought it was a good time to revisit my lists from this past summer and add moments from the final film. After the list I shall note any changes.
Sirius is dead. Voldemort has Harry trapped. Enter Dumbledore to save the day. Finally, we get an all out fight between the two most powerful wizards in the world. Its an exciting scene and more screen time for Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort is always appreciated. We get a giant snake made of fire. We get Voldemort being drowned in a massive levitating sphere of water. We get tons of sharp glass flying in the air to be quickly turned into sand. This scene is awesome and everything that it is in the book as these two forces finally clash for everyone to see.
This is probably the least important moment on this list, however it is done so perfectly. Emma Watson shows how much command she has over Hermione in this scene. Harry comes to comfort her after she witnesses Ron kissing Lavender Brown. The friendship between Harry and Hermione never felt as real as it did before this moment. It is relatable to anyone who has been hurt by love or has witnessed a friend hurt by love. It shows that this magical world is full of very real and human characters.
The scene at Ollivander’s is pretty much word for word taken straight from the book. This may be a problem elsewhere in the film but it works wonderfully here. John Hurt is brilliant in his small role as Ollivander. This scene is one that sets up the rest of the series and even has a lot of significance in the final battle seven movies later. I still get chills every time Harry finds his perfect wand and John Williams’ legendary score illuminates the scene.
The final installment of the franchise starts off with one of the most exciting action sequences in the entire series. It starts with a brilliant turn by Helena Bonham Carter as Hermione pretending to be Bellatrix. She follows Emma Watson’s mannerisms perfectly and succeeds in making this part of the sequence just as funny and tense as it is in the book. Then we get into the vault where the special effects succeed in making this scene translate perfectly to screen as every treasure explodes into five more. Then the trio escapes on the dragon battling guards and goblins all the way out. The score here is also incredible. Overall, this scene is perfect in every way and the best way to start off the final film.
Anyone who says that they pictured this better in the book is just wrong. The imagination and sheer artistic craft that went into animating this sequence is Oscar worthy. They could have had someone just read the story, but we got this. The animation is both beautiful and creepy. The story of the Deathly Hallows is brought to life better than anyone could have ever imagined it. Also, I wouldn’t mind if Emma Watson narrated all of my dreams for the rest of my life.
This scene resembles everything that the early Harry Potter novels managed to accomplish. The sense of wonder and excitement as we see Buckbeak fly over the beautiful Hogwarts castle is one of the first moments in the films where we don’t feel like we are watching a film adaptation of the books and that we are re-experiencing the story as if for the first time. John Williams’ score is terrific and brings extra emotion to this beautifully tender sequence. It is small but unforgettable.
Harry and Dumbledore’s visit to the cave where Voldemort has supposedly hidden one of his Horcruxes is brilliantly brought to film. The chemistry between Daniel Radcliffe and Michael Gambon is very good here as they traverse through the most frightening location in all of the films. Dumbledore is forced to consume the potion blocking their way to the Horcrux. It is shocking to see the man considered by many to be the most powerful wizard of all time beg for death. Then comes the creepy Inferi, these zombie looking things that come out of the water and drag Harry under. Dumbledore saves his life with one of the most spectacular special effects to date. Just before his death, we see Dumbledore both at his most powerful and his most weak. You couldn’t ask for a better way to send him off.
Overall the fourth movie is a pretty disappointing adaptation of the novel. The graveyard scene is quite the exception. It is the first time we are introduced to Ralph Fiennes’ Voldemort and he is absolutely terrifying. Watching the dark lord press his finger against Harry’s scar is difficult and horrifying. Then they duel and something amazing happens; their wands connect and Harry sees his parents. They are able to help Harry for just enough time to allow him to escape. This scene was the perfect way to give the movie an emotionally satisfying ending and move the series into its darker half.
If you are looking for the most emotional moment in the series, this is it. After eight films of uncertainty, we finally see where Severus Snape’s loyalties lie. In this beautiful sequence we get a montage of events before the series, events we’ve seen before, and the stuff inbetween that ties every loose end perfectly. Snape loved Lily, it was as simple as that. Dumbledore trusted him to the very end. Sadly these events are only seen by Harry after Snape’s tragic death. But that is how it is meant to be. The world would never know the best of Severus, but he cared for Harry, always.
Okay maybe I’m cheating. This isn’t a moment as much as it is half of a movie. Well this is my blog and I can do what I want! Everything after the trio’s escape from the Ministry to their capture at the hands of the Snatchers is absolutely brilliant. The trio has no idea what to do and that only leads to frustration. Here is where their friendship faces its final test. Dan, Rupert, and Emma have never been as good together as they are here. This list is for the best moments transitioned from page to film so many of you may be asking what about Harry and Hermione’s dance? Rowling did not write it, but she could have. The dance is very much in line with both the tone of the book as well as the characters. Its also a highlight of the film. Then of course we get the wonderful scene where Ron comes back and destroys the locket. The reason these scenes work is because the main characters are not distracted by anyone else. There are no teachers, parents, or friends, it is just them, and they have to rely on each other to get through the most difficult time in their lives.
Of course there are so many great scenes throughout the Harry Potter movies. Sound off in the comments section and tell me the scenes you wish I had included on this list. Tomorrow, I rank the films.
Note: Before the update, this list included Harry saving Sirius at the lake with his Patronus in Prisoner of Azkaban as well as Harry and Hermione’s visit to Godric’s Hollow in Deathly Hallows Part 1.