One film is never enough (...though perhaps it should be?)

The world doesn't need another review of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 today.  Rather than regale you with my thoughts from the midnight showing (amazing!), I'd prefer to have a different discussion.  I figure those of you that are fans will go see it (and likely concur with its awesomeness); those of you that couldn't care less will pass on the opportunity to do so (and I'll love you anyway); and those that really want a review have plenty other blogs to turn to.  Instead I'd like to embark on what I find the more intriguing topic of conversation: the fact that the book was released as two films.  Now that both are out - and assuming most Potterheads have seen, or will soon have seen, parts one and deux - I'm curious about the reaction to the book split decision.

As a lover of books, YA books, fantasy books, and great series reads, it's no surprise that I hold Rowling's work in the highest esteem. That's not to say that I adore every book she's written, but as a whole, I'm greatly impressed. As a film fan, I also think the movies are great adaptations of the text. I won't go into the pros-cons of books versus movies. I've found I can enjoy both forms of a work to a better degree if I choose to treat them as separate entities. The movie is not supposed to BE the book, rather it's an interpretation of the book.  Granted, my favorite book in the Potter series is also one of my least favorite movies; and the books that I thought were weaker entries, turned out to be some of my favorite movies.

But returning to my original question: what does everyone feel about the decision to divide Deathly Hallows into two films?  The choice has set a precedent for other long books potentially becoming two films when they are released (rumors report similar splits possible for movies of Breaking Dawn and Mockingjay).  Is this evidence of producers/directors wanting to give fans more to savor or a quest for more money?  Are these decisions being considered to honor their source material or for bigger box offices? On a similar thread, what do fans think about George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire being adapted as a television series rather than feature films?

I don't want to sway anyone's opinions so I'll save my thoughts for the comments but I'd love to hear your take!

13 Response to "One film is never enough (...though perhaps it should be?)"

  1. Sam (Tiny Library) says:
    July 15, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    I haven't seen part 2 yet and am not going til Wednesday :(

    Anyway, I generally support splitting as it means the films can stay closer to the books and include more sub-plots.

  2. Ellen aka Ellie says:
    July 15, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    I read the first Harry Potter (HP) to my very first class. Then, before the year was over, Mac went to the UK and bought the other before it was released here, and we rushed to get that one finished before the school year ended.

    I liked the charm of the first, and the movie was okay. The second book was already much darker, and I was creeped out by the third. So I stopped reading them.

    Shame on me eh?

    But yesterday, on fb, one of those first students paid me a sweet homage for getting her hooked. She was on her way to the last film. Perhaps I should send her this post link?


  3. Anonymous Says:
    July 15, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    It's interesting. I haven't actually read any of the books or seen any or plan on seeing any of the movies/tv series you've mentioned. I guess that make my opinion totally uniformed, but I like movies with endings not a "to be continued feeling," so I can't see how splitting one book up into two movies is going to make that possible,

  4. foggidawn Says:
    July 15, 2011 at 1:49 PM

    I really loved DH2, and can't imagine what they would have had to cut out to make DH into a single movie. However, I don't know if it will work for every long book, and I'm afraid the studios will try to do it more and more often now that this one has proven successful (which I think it has).

  5. Lesa says:
    July 16, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    I don't mind splitting up a long book if that is what it takes to portray the story-- who doesn't love a great made for tv mini-series-- but I am cynical enough to see the dollar signs shining in the movie company's eyes.

    I really wish my fave fantasy series 'Wheel of Time' would be made into a series-- an animated series like Avatar would be amazing!!

  6. Anonymous Says:
    July 16, 2011 at 10:06 AM

    I never once checked my watch during either of the movies. In fact, I thought this last one went especially fast - they crammed so much. The one prior had its meditative moments, but I loved those as well as the action scenes. I never begrudge one moment of spending more time with Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

  7. Sam (Tiny Library) says:
    July 16, 2011 at 10:20 AM

    Hi, just wanted to let you know I've added your entry to the literary blog directory:
    Hope you find some great blogs through it and also get some new readers. There's a button on my blog for you to use.

  8. Nikki - Notes of Life says:
    July 16, 2011 at 1:55 PM

    I must admit that I've not read any of the books and I've only seen one or two of the movies.

    I'm guessing that when I series is that big, they can do what they like. There's also the issue of movie length, who wants to see a 3 hour movie? If cutting a book down into two movies, saves vital scenes being cut from a movie, then I don't see a problem... Though, as I've said, I've not read the books so can't really comment.

  9. Anonymous Says:
    July 17, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    I think splitting the last book was the right thing to do. So much detail would have been lost otherwise. Arguably, Rowling herself could have split the last book into two, so much happens in it. I hate to see things left out, even though I know it has to be done to keep a movie moving. I think LOTR conceptually needed to be three movies, but this series didn't NEED to be seven movies.
    One thing I really appreciate about the movies is they seem to be made more for fans than for the non-reader. And most movie adaptations are the opposite. Yates doesn't try too hard to explain everything; you either got it in the books or not. Do you think?

  10. Sarah says:
    July 17, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    I think that the 7th movie could have done fine as just a longer single movie. I think they kind of slacked on the second half anyways, I was expecting it to be at least 2.5 hours. If any of the movies should have been longer, it should have been the 4th, Goblet of Fire.

    I think the idea of splitting Mockingjay into two movies is retarded. The book isn't even that long, they're so obviously just trying to generate more money there.

    As for George RRM's series being a mini-series - a great idea, as long as it doesn't get cancelled. Those books are huge and a whole lot happens in just one novel, so a mini-series was probably the only way to go.

  11. lisa :) says:
    July 18, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    In an odd twist of irony, my comment reply is too long so this will be posted in two parts. Consider this lisa's comment part one:

    Thanks to everyone for your comments! I had an idea that people would be pretty spread out on their thoughts but I love the insightful things that everyone had to share.

    Sam - I agree with you that in general any opportunity for the movie to be closer to the book is a good thing, but I can see the argument for condensing as making it easier for people that haven't read the book to still appreciate the movie while not getting bored or confused.

    Ellen - That's awesome that you introduced your students to Harry Potter. As for the darker nature of the later books, I think it was a clever way of Rowling to keep kids interested as they aged with Harry. The first few books are okay for 10 year olds, where as the later ones fit better for a teen audience. There's a part of me that envies the children who were the same age as Harry as each book came out!

    carol - Great point about the "To Be Continued" and that's why I really wanted people to weigh in on this without having any Harry Potter bias. One of my friends knew nothing about Lord Of the Rings and when the first movie ended disgustingly declared "That's it??" I think that's probably the best argument against movies in multiple parts is that it does alienate some members of the audience.

    foggi - When I first heard about DH being two movies, I was a little ticked. I really wanted them to just edit and trim and make one long movie. However, once I saw part one, and definitely now that I've seen part two, I'm glad it was done the way they did it. Rowling didn't write with haphazard details and there were many parts of both films that were integral to the Deathly Hallows story. Also, though I don't want it to be a trend for every long book. For example, I really don't see any reason why Breaking Dawn can't be told in two and a half hours.

    Lesa - Wheel of Time would definitely be better served as a TV series. Like Martin's Game of Thrones, they would probably need at least a season (10+ hours) for each book. Who knows, maybe once HBO gets through the Song of Ice and Fire they'll look to Robert Jordan for their next inspiration?? (I really need to go back and tackle that series, I read the first four or five in high school but kept forgetting what was going on while waiting for the next book to be released. I heard Sanderson did a great job emulating Jordan's style too.)

    Stephanie - They did pass by in a whirl! I heard a few theaters played all the movies marathon-style before the last release. I don't know that I could handle sitting that long, but you're right that for fans, every minute of screen time is precious!

  12. lisa :) says:
    July 18, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    See above, but this is lisa's comment part two:

    Sam - Thanks! I'll link up to the directory and spend some more time checking it out!

    Nikki-ann - For fans, many would say the longer the film, the better, but I suppose Hollywood's challenge is appeasing BOTH the fan groups and the everyday moviegoer.

    thebookstop - That's a really interesting note about the movies being more for the fans and the "you either got it in the books or not". After the final film we had a talk about Grindewald and how we thought he would have had an appearance or at least more of a mention. To us, the allusions to the girl in the painting who was now dead made perfect sense, but I'm curious about how that would come across to someone who had not read the books.

    Sarah - Though I'm rankled by your choice of adjective, I agree that splitting Mockingjay seems a bit of a stretch. Though I like Deathly Hallows as two films, I worry about the precedent Parts 1 and 2 sets for other films that could be equally well told in a single film. I mentioned that I really don't want to see Breaking Dawn divided but I'm still on the fence about Mockingjay. There was a lot going on, so I suppose it's up to the screenwriters to decide how to parse it down. Also, I suppose it will depend how the first two films in the series go in leading up to it (how detailed the secondary characters are, how much of the political story is expanded, etc.). I'm really curious how future seasons of Game Of Thrones will play out. I assume that Feast for Crows and Dance With Dragons will be combined to cover two, or maybe three or four seasons, but even so that leaves five years - at most - of filming before Martin needs to continue the tale!

    I think these replies sum up my feelings pretty well. Though at first I didn't like the idea, I'm glad DH was split since it really provided a strong end to the series. I don't want to see other books made into two films just for the sake of following suit, but in instances where the details of the text are intentional and purposeful to the story, more time should be taken to relate them. And in instances where the books are simply too expansive, TV really does provide the best medium for conveying the visual form of the text.

  13. Bekka says:
    July 22, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    I like that they split DH into two parts. There just so much information, that the cuts would have been so severe. I did not like how they changed the ending, though. I feel like, if you're going to split it up, to make room for all that info, you damn sure better deliver that info truthfully.

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