I've noticed a curious thing about reactions to the Harry Potter films. Fans who read the books seem to assume that moviegoers who haven't read the books must be complete idiots. I've cruised online for reactions to the movie, and while the reaction to this film (and the films in the series in general) trend pretty positive, it's the biggest fans who seem to complain the loudest about plot points that go unexplained.
- "They didn't explain why Harry lived!" (Yes, they did. It might not have gone on for pages and pages, but it was pretty clear what was going on.)
- "The Supporting Characters didn't get big fight/death scenes!" (Not really a problem... in the Star Wars movies do we need to focus extensively on each Rebel pilot before they get killed?)
- "They didn't explain how Voldemort was really killed!" (I think it's depicted pretty clearly in the movie without an explanation. Show, don't tell.)
Or to take it back to earlier films:
- "They never explained who made the Hogwarts Map!" (because it's not important to the plot.)
I've noticed this with Star Trek fans too. People complained that "Abrams movie doesn't make any sense unless you buy the comic books that explain the backstory." Hilariously, people who made this argument that the film sucked on those grounds were almost always the viewers who bought the comics. I personally knew many causal viewers who didn't even know the comics existed and had no trouble following the story.
Yet those who complain about such "plot holes" do so with an air of "I only know this because I read the books! Those if you didn't read the books you'd be lost!"
No, if you didn't read the books, you wouldn't know what you were missing and thus, you wouldn't care. Either that, or you assume the general audience is brain dead and needs everything spoonfed to them.
But what this comes down to is the superfan's inability to judge a film adaptation on its own terms. Any criticism that begins "In the book they..." is largely an invalid one. These aren't the books. It's called film adaptation, not film translation. "Adaptation" means "change." Minor plot points that were essential to the books are not going to be as high a priority as in a film.
The movies really took off when they learned to embrace Harry's journey as the spine of the series and to discard anything that wasn't germaine to that. That meant that a lot of third bananas might have lost some character beats, but that indulgence is something the books can afford.
I've only read the first five books, and I think one of the better adaptations was Order of the Phoenix specifically because it jettisoned a lot of the bloated passages of the novel and got to the heart of the story. That book was one instance where Rowling probably could have used a firmer editor because the pacing of a few points tested my tolerance greatly through the first 2/3 of the novel. In contrast, the film was much more engaging and might even be one of my favorites of the series.
But what do you think about this? Those of you who've only seen the films, did you feel major points went unexplained? Those of you who love the books, what do you hate the most about the movies? Are you able to enjoy the films and the books as separate entities or do you spend the entire viewing experience checking off what was and wasn't represented from the novels?
Do you worry about what a viewer who hasn't read the books would make of a scene or missing plot point? And how much credit do you give them to infer details they aren't directly told?
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