For Christmas, I got the book Harry Potter Page to Screen: The Complete Filmmaking Journey. It is huge and heavy and wonderful. I thought I was finished getting Harry Potter books for Christmas. For years, after a new book came out in the summer, my husband would get me the audiobook for Christmas. Jim Dale does an excellent job reading the stories.
Page to Screen is the kind of book you can sit and read a little at a time, or if you’re like me and can’t put something down once you pick it up, just one more page, just one more chapter, just one more… It’s full of photos, drawings of costumes and props, behind-the-scenes visual effects and makeup info, and interviews with the cast, directors, writers, and producers. There are lots of little tidbits about why this or that was cut from the book, or how something was changed or added.
I decided long ago that I had to separate the Harry Potter books and movies in my mind. There is just so much in the books it can’t all be translated to the movie screen. During parts of the first couple of movies, my head would spin. That’s not how that happened in the book. That character didn’t do that. How did they get from this part to that part but leave out this part? It was much better when I decided to just enjoy the movies for what they were and the books for what they were. The only quibble I still have with the movies is with the staircases at Hogwarts. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone:
There were a hundred and forty-two staircases at Hogwarts: wide, sweeping ones; narrow, rickety ones; some that led somewhere different on a Friday; some with a vanishing step halfway up that you had to remember to jump. Then there were doors that wouldn’t open unless you asked politely, or tickled them in exactly the right place, and doors that weren’t really doors at all, but solid walls just pretending. It was also very hard to remember where anything was, because it all seemed to move around a lot. The people in the portraits kept going to visit each other, and Harry was sure the coats of armor could walk.
The book mentions that sometimes the stairs went somewhere different on different days and that things seemed to move around a lot. Not a problem. It’s magic. But in the movies, it was mechanical. The stairs physically moved while the students were on them. That just didn’t seem magical to me. In my mind, you would reach the top of the stairs and without warning be somewhere different from where you intended to go. It wasn’t like an amusement park ride.
My two young children still haven’t seen any of the movies because they haven’t read the books yet and I really want them to experience the books first. And speaking of kids, I’ll tell you which spell I would like to be able to perform in real life. Sure, having Harry’s invisible cloak or Hermione’s time-turner would be great. Even Mrs. Scower’s All-Purpose Magical Mess Remover would be nice. But what I really want is to be able to perform the summoning charm. How many times did I sit down to feed a baby when I realized I forgot the remote, or a magazine, or a glass of water? Accio! I walked upstairs and forgot to bring the laundry. Accio! Where are my car keys? Accio! That is the magical power I would most like to have.
a page from the book