Two weeks ago, I covered my favorite scenes from the books. Now that I’ve seen all the films, it is time to discuss my favorites from that set of media. You’d think they’d match up, but no. What makes a good film scene and what makes a good book scene are different. It depends on score, acting, editing and more. Its a different art form entirely. Having once been interested in film/video, I can appreciate the difference and see the films independently from the novels.
This list is mostly comprised of scenes from earlier films, but the last one (as they are presented in chronological order) is from Deathly Hallows: Part 2, so if you haven’t seen it, or read the book: SPOILERS!
Alastor Moody is the Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher during Harry’s fourth year. During his first lesson, he he teaches the young students about the Unforgivable Curses by performing them on a spider. What makes this scene is Brendon Gleeson’s top-notch performance as Moody (I covered that last week). It not only serves as a great introduction to Moody as a character, but also for introducing the Unforgivable Curses. Its also great that he starts out with the Imperius Curse and lolls the class in a frenzied state of humor only to turn it dark and somber in a heartbeat. The tension in the room is palpable as Moody continues the lesson into Cruciatus and then into Avada Kedevra. I think its easily the best “classroom” scene in the movies.
The Dark Lord returns
I always felt the for the most part the films managed to get the important climax scenes correct (except for Half-Blood Prince). However, I felt the best climax scene was easily the return of Voldemort. For the most part the movie version played out exactly as I envisioned it while reading the scene. And Ralph Fiennes’ introduction as Voldemort is incredible and cemented the character of Voldemort more thoroughly in my mind than the books ever did. From that point on when reading the books I envisioned the erratic and totally crazy Voldemort, but who still had the villainous charisma.
Cause you gotta have a montage! And it’s a good montage. Part of my love of the series (books and films) is seeing the kids grow and learn. Being a player of Mages in RPGs, I feel an extended connection for that very reason. But when the kids start Dumbledore’s Army and the go through the montage of the kids practicing and learning while evading Umbridge just brought a smile to face for some reason. You get to see some shining moments and some great humor. You watch Neville go from helpless to competent, Fred and George pulling some awesome prankery and of course Harry’s “every one was a noob once” mini-speech is nice as it drives home the point that just because you’re inexperienced doesn’t mean you can’t do something well.
I make it no secret that Half-blood Prince is my least liked of the films. Its just not that good. One scene does stand out though and its when Harry takes the “luck potion” Felix Felicis. When reading it, I sort of envisioned Harry with a sort of “Fonzie” style swagger. But the film plays it out in much more interesting manner of making it seem like Harry is high on the good stuff (wink wink nudge nudge) and it certainly puts Daniel Radcliffe at his funniest in the whole series. That “and the pincers” bit gets me every time. For all its light-heartedness, the scene ends on a sort down beat where Slughorn reveals the story of Francis, a goldfish he once owned which had been given to him by Harry’s mother. It’s a touching scene. While I don’t really think Jim Broadbent was really suited to be Slughorn, I think he hit that scene out of the park.
The Death of Snape
HEY! Spoilers if you haven’t seen Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Okay? Okay!
There was a lot to look forward to in the grand finale and I wondered what scene could possibly end up on this list. Would Harry’s surrender make it? Perhaps Snape’s memories? Nope. It ended up being Snape’s death. Part of me wonders how someone who didn’t know Snape’s story would react to it, but watching that scene is heartbreaking when you know Snape’s deal. You see him try to placate Voldemort and inform him that the Elder Wand obeys only the Dark Lord himself. In an attempt to get the wand to obey him, believing Snape to be the wand’s owner, kills him by having his snake Nagini attack Snape. While you don’t see it directly, you see Snape get pounded against the wall of the boathouse multiple times, and each hit is like a punch to the stomach. Harry comes in and Snape is crying and hands over his memories to Harry. While I do the love the “Look… at… me…” as the last words in the book, Rickman’s subtle and gentle “Look at me. You have your mother’s eyes.” just hits hard as he quietly fades to death.