Beauxbatons Boys: Where the Movies Went Wrong
The Harry Potter movies are an easy and fun way to relive Harry’s story, and they definitely deserve some love. However, one change that the directors made in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire recently got me thinking. That change has everything to do with Beauxbatons Academy of Magic, the French wizarding school taking part in the Triwizard Tournament. My question to the writers of the script is simple: Where are the dudes?
The introduction of the students of Beauxbatons in the movie is memorable. With their light blue uniforms, fluttery magic, and dance, the Beauxbatons ladies form a perfect contrast to the stern, almost violent boys of Durmstrang. Ron, in particular, is very much interested in their backsides.
In short, Beauxbatons is presented as a school for fancy young women with pretty outfits, neat bodies, and cute French accents. This is all fine, but not what the books make the school out to be. After all, the young male wizards in France and the countries surrounding it also need an education. As the following quotes from the books will show, there were definitely Beauxbatons boys present at the Triwizard Tournament:
‘My pupils,’ said Madame Maxime, waving one of her enormous hands carelessly behind her. Harry, whose attention had been focused completely upon Madame Maxime, now noticed that around a dozen boys and girls – all, by the look of them, in their late teens – had emerged from the carriage and were now standing behind Madame Maxime” (GoF 269).
A dozen of them! Boys as well as girls! This becomes even clearer at the Yule Ball:
Parvati sat down on Harry’s other side, crossed her arms and legs too, and within minutes, was asked to dance by a boy from Beauxbatons” (GoF 459).
And not much later…
‘Fine,’ snapped Padma, and she got up and went to join Parvati and the Beauxbatons boy, who conjured up one of his friends to join them so fast that Harry could have sworn he had zoomed him there by a Summoning Charm” (GoF 462).
It’s clear that the movies changed this important aspect of Beauxbatons Academy, turning it into a girls-only school. Why would they do this? Sure, it creates a nice contrast to (the all-male) Durmstrang, making both schools more memorable, but just their attitude and the color and shape of their outfits could have done that as well.
Instead, an effect of this change is that it feeds into stereotypes and makes Fleur come off as weaker than she is. She is already the only female contestant for the Triwizard Cup, surrounded by Cedric Diggory, Victor Krum, and the famous Harry Potter. Aside from that, the movies seem to say that she only manages to become the champion for Beauxbatons because it was a girls’ school anyway. In other words, no guys competed for her spot.
This is the main reason why I think the portrayal of Beauxbatons as a stereotypical French girl club is not just different from the books, but damagingly so. Fleur was chosen from a group of very competent students, both boys and girls. She successfully completed the first task, fighting a dragon, and proved her value many times over during the Wizarding War that came after the tournament. She may not have won the Triwizard Cup, but she was very much capable of competing against the other champions. By portraying Beauxbatons the way they did, the movies undermined her in this.
What do you think about this particular change the movies made?