The U-Bend #38: Quidditch Withdrawals

by Andrew Lee and Robert Lanto

“Long may the game continue to evolve and long may future generations of witches and wizards enjoy this most glorious of sports!”
-Kennilworthy Whisp (Quidditch Through The Ages)


Canada is hockey country. Except for last year, Canada had nothing…unless you count the hours upon hours of curling they tried to push in its place. This year we’re back in business, and the Canadian Olympic teams are hot stuff this week in Turin, Italy. But we’re not here to talk about hockey or the Olympics, and it’s time we try to put the year of curling behind us.

No, it’s time to talk about Quidditch. Not why baskets should be brought back as the standard scoring method, but whether we’re ever going to see an entire season of the sport in future films.

Everyone who followed the development of “Prisoner of Azkaban” knew the entire Quidditch season was in trouble when Sean Biggerstaff wasn’t recast to play Gryffindor Quidditch captain Oliver Wood. This, of course, resulted in The Save Oliver Wood Campaign, although that failed to get much of a response from Warner Bros. That, coupled with the fact that neither Cho Chang nor Cedric Diggory were cast for “Prisoner of Azkaban,” proved that the viewers would also not see Harry help win the Quidditch Cup. In all fairness, “Prisoner of Azkaban” did benefit from the cut (as it would’ve slowed down the movie as another subplot), but left a few fans disappointed (we were more disappointed by the shrunken head, but we digress).

Excluding book 7 (since it hasn’t been completed by this point, at least to our knowledge…) Harry is pretty much left out of the Quidditch loop. In “Goblet of Fire,” there is no Hogwarts Quidditch season. We only get a snippet of Quidditch-like action in the form of Harry’s broomstick vs. Hungarian Horntail match in the first task. The Quidditch World Cup scenes were fast and over in the blink of an eye, with not even a hint of Quidditch being played.

Otherwise the movies seem to be concentrating on useless additions (WB executive: Let’s attach a shrunken head to the end of Harry’s broom!) like extending the dragon scene with pointless action instead of substantial character growth (Movie viewer: Who are the Marauders?). In Order of the Phoenix, Harry is banned from playing after the first round (thanks to everyone’s favorite ministry employee Umbridge). So, unless the director and writer of “Order of the Phoenix” love Ron’s Quidditch playing ability (as much as the Slytherins, no doubt), it’s doubtful we’ll get much Quidditch action there. Don’t forget that Harry would be watching from the sidelines. We’re almost certain that would bog down the movie.

[Scene: Harry Watches Quidditch]Harry and Hermione join fellow Gryffindor students and Hagrid to watch Ron (and team) play Quidditch.

Harry and Hermione watch Ron let in seven goals.

Not very exciting is it? Poor Rupert Grint, he can finally ride a broomstick and the odds are it’ll be a background element only. Luckily, Angelina Johnson was cast, so hopefully she will be in “Order of the Phoenix” to replace Wood. Well, there’s Ginny, too, but she falls in the same category as Ron.

Half-Blood Prince did feature an entire Quidditch season, even though Harry did not play the final game since he was trying to kill Malfoy (Robert: next time finish the job, Harry). The switching of announcers was a nice touch, especially Luna Lovegood giving commentary for the final match.

In terms of the books, proper Quidditch matches are over. J.K. confirmed this during her interviews for Half-Blood Prince. We may see an informal game sometime during the last novel, but if Harry has time to play Quidditch instead of tracking down the rest of Voldemort’s Horcruxes he’s really not doing his job. J.K. has always said that writing Quidditch was difficult since making all the matches different was a hard thing to do. There is the possibility of a spin-off novel about Quidditch, but you can probably put that down to wishful thinking.

On the movie side of things, it is very difficult to see more than the standard one match of Quidditch. The digitally enhanced scenes are probably one of the most expensive parts of the film. To suggest filming 28 individual players (seven players per house team), plus the fans, plus the referee (although Hooch has been cut for a while now), is probably a very long and demanding process. To add to that the planning of four separate matches (and making them all play differently) is difficult. Then again, many movies have epic battle scenes with thousands of characters which are probably a lot more difficult to plan and shoot. So, it could be done, but it’s up to the willingness of the movie production crew.

So where does that leave us? The most glorious of sports is gone. The odds of us suffering from Quidditch withdrawal are high. Sure, we saw the Quidditch Cup match in the “Goblet of Fire” movie, and we’ll see Harry’s single match in “Order of the Phoenix” and probably a little something in “Half-Blood Prince.” But even then, it will be up to the money-minded movie producers to consider having a full set of Quidditch matches included in the theatrical adaptation of any of the future novels.

We just finished getting over our hockey withdrawals! Why must we endure Quidditch withdrawal? (Robert: OMG, is there going to be curling!?!)