A MONTH OF MAGIC: Hero Complex is counting down to Friday’s release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” — the penultimate film in the history-making “Potter” franchise — with exclusive interviews, photos, videos and reports from the set. Today, a look at an unexpected scene in “Deathly Hallows” that leads to a moment that will have fans talking (and debating) for weeks.
There’s no way to take a beloved bookshelf sensation like the “Harry Potter” novels and put them on the silver screen without courting some controversy, and Steve Kloves knows that better than anyone. But the man who wrote seven of the eight “Potter” screenplays is clearly doing something right, and for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” he successfully pushed for a scene that never appeared in the pages of J.K. Rowling’s books but may end up as the most-discussed moment in the film.
Harry and Hermione are on the run as fugitives in the increasingly dark wizarding world and Ron has left in frustration — and after expressing suspicion that his two oldest friends have feelings for each other. In a quiet moment, Harry listens as the broadcast on a scratchy little radio shifts from grim news dispatches to a forlorn song. He holds out his hand and invites his childhood friend to dance. After a pained expression, she agrees. There are awkward glances and a crosscurrent of emotions — they are tired, scared, confused and expecting to die at any moment. The tension builds and it seems as if something is about to happen. And then … well, you’d better go see the movie for that.
The inspiration for the scene came to Kloves while he was driving home from work one day back during the “Half-Blood Prince” shoot, and he jotted his idea down on a yellow piece of paper. With uncertainty, the Oscar-nominated screenwriter of “Wonder Boys” brought the somewhat audacious little concept to the leadership group for the “Potter” films as far as story — director David Yates, producer David Heyman and, with a less persistent but always weighty presence, Rowling herself.
“When I wrote it down, I thought, ‘Well this is strange,'” Kloves said. “But it stuck with me and I thought there were good reasons for it. I was surprised when I took it to the group that it was very well-received. It was real stroke of courage, just in terms of pushing the envelope in the ‘Potter’ universe.”
The scene, especially with those crackling radio reports of resistance casualties, conjured up the raw emotion of a World War II interlude in which men and women confronted with death and loss look for human connection, even if it’s not with the most expected — or proper — person. “That’s exactly what we were going for, there’s lot of complicated emotions there, a lot of history too.” The scene also hard-wires even more emotion into the return of Ron and adds to dark doubts he has about his budding romance with Hermione.
Some industry observers who have viewed the movie call the scene one of the most affecting in the film — but how will all those “Potter” purists respond? Let the debate begin.
— Geoff Boucher
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