O Children: An Ode to Harry and Hermione
Abstract: This essay offers an insight into the seventh movie, and how the canonical relationships between Ron and Hermione, Harry and Ginny and most importantly Harry and Ron have suffered in favor of featuring the hero (Harry) and the heroine (Hermione) together in key emotional scenes.
In the Harry Potter books, it was made obvious from very early on that the main romantic relationship was going to be between Ron and Hermione, and in the sixth book, J.K.Rowling surprised her readers by having Harry fall for Ginny, Ron’s sister. Though unexpected, it was a nice development: Ginny had been harboring supposedly unrequited feelings for Harry, and was shown to get over him enough to start becoming his friend, but as the friendship grew so did the connection between them, causing Harry to begin viewing her in a different light. Thus their getting together paid off years of character development for Ginny, and provided the readers with a connection they could go back and spot since book one, knowing now that it was more significant than they had originally assumed. And that’s always fun.
But I’ve long maintained, stubbornly (ask anyone I know), that the movie makers never quite took to the fact that the romantic endgame was not Harry and Hermione. For movie purposes, such a romance would work so much better: the two formed an instant connection in Philosopher’s Stone, they are the male and female leads (leaving Ron as the comedic sidekick, as indeed he has been reduced to in most of the films), and it doesn’t hurt that the two actors have an amazing chemistry, and seem to get along really well. Plus, I think the writers have been a little too influenced by Twilight, trying in vain to create some belated “Team Harry” and “Team Ron” t-shirt revenue potential. Even though the Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny hoops have been jumped through, grudgingly (Harry and Ginny’s Half-Blood Prince scenes were mellow at best, and why change the kiss to be as flat as it was, the magic common room moment instead being given to Ron and Lavender?), still the producers have not let go of the Harry/Hermione connection.
Now, in many ways this is fine, great even, because it is not often a movie bothers to spend time establishing a relationship between a non-romantic or non-family couple of friends, and seen in the light of everything we know happens and doesn’t happen between them, the moments are pure and sweet, and refreshing in a world filled with pointless character hook-ups to boost ratings – Gossip Girl, I’m looking at you. And I’ll be the first to admit that Harry and Hermione as a romantic pairing is not completely unimaginable; heck, when I read the first few books at age twelve, I was all about the Harmony! But there came a point, I remember it clearly when I was reading Goblet of Fire and I realized that Harry’s true love was not Hermione: it was the moment where the thing Harry will miss most of all has been taken from him, and we discover that it is Ron. My little fangirl heart shattered, then, because I had so far been reading what I thought was an epic love story between the hero and the heroine. Turned out the series was just an epic love fest in general, and I guess I was a bit of a fickle shipper back then because I was not half disappointed when I discovered a few chapters later that Jo was taking the Ron/Hermione route instead.
This is why I can’t help but be bothered a little by the fact that Harry and Hermione get all the emotional scenes together in the film – not because I don’t enjoy them, nor because I don’t think the fans of the pairing deserve something to make music videos out of – but because they come at the expense of the other important connections in the book: namely the Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny relationships, and most importantly and significantly, the Ron/Harry friendship. These are cut for time, or reduced to background hint-wink moments. Because Hermione is a girl, she is usually put into emotional or developmental scenes with Harry even when in the book he had those moments with Ron; it’s a whole big gender balance thing, and the fact that Harry and Hermione look good together on screen doesn’t hurt… but it’s just such a shame. It’s a shame too because the scenes where Harry and Hermione do get together would be so amazing if they were establishing a romantic connection, and although I didn’t ultimately root for the pair of them, I still feel a bit cheated by what I feel is the buildup to a romance which is never realized. It leaves me, an avid supporter of the canon relationships, almost wishing that something would develop between Harry and Hermione in the movies, just because it has been built up so well. It makes me angry with the makers of the movie for manipulating me to feel this way, only because they themselves cannot let go of the relationship that would have made them millions of dollars if they had been allowed to go with it. Because when reading the books, I feel so much differently about the characters and who should be with who, and there is never a moment (after book four) when I wish Jo would have gone another way.
We are already familiar with the Hermione/Harry hug in CoS, the falling on each other in PoA, the bridge scene in GoF and the crying on the stairs in HBP… but man do they milk the Harry/Hermione connection in the latest film: the dance scene, the graveyard scene, the kiss? Forget about the Harry/Ron hug, that’s not important, let’s instead spend five minutes letting Harry and Hermione make out. It makes me so mad, and so frustrated because… damn it, I LOVED that stupid dancing scene! Forgetting for a moment that these characters are better with their respective Weasleys and that the movie is based on a book I practically know by heart (which is easy to forget, considering that the movies and books are like completely different animals), I just let go of it all and watched the two characters on screen, dancing, and I liked them together. It speaks to the chemistry between the actors and the manipulative nature of the director and writer, of course, and it speaks to me too, and what I notice (my mother insists that there was nothing romantic about that scene at all). But the fact remains that they chose to use valuable screen time on a dance scene between Harry and Hermione, which – while great – came at the expense of the Harry/Ron hug, not to mention the actual canonical Ron/Hermione dance at the wedding. It’s like when they gave the epic Harry/Ginny common room kiss moment to Ron and Lavender.
It’s funny how bothered I am by this and yet… that dance scene was so sweet, I just want to watch it over and over again. It’s probably my favorite scene of any Harry Potter movie. I am not sure it was the movie makers’ intention to leave its audience this confused, but I expect I am not the only one to feel this way. While only one aspect of the series, love is undeniably an important one, and it is interesting how “Hollywood-izing” this aspect and trying to focus on the hero and the heroine have distorted the dynamics between the characters.