Why the “Harry Potter” Saga Didn’t Receive Any Valuable Oscars (and Why the “Lord of the Rings” Did)
Summary: The writer argues David Yates was the worst thing to happen to the Harry Potter franchise.
After three successful movies, Lord of The Rings won several Oscars as a coronation to a movie saga that has enchanted the world. David Heyman and David Baron were both hoping to obtain a similar achievement, but they destroyed all their Oscar chances four years ago by hiring David Yates as director for the final four movies. Although Yates tried to focus on the emotional plotlines of the characters and he succeeded in making some very touching moments, the movies were not magical. They were never enchanting, or even epic.
Through the first four movies, the directors did huge efforts to show us the magical world of Harry Potter that we all deeply love. You can see this in various little cut scenes like the ghosts in Prisoner of Azkaban that jump on their horses through a window in the great hall. In Sorcerer’s Stone, Chris Columbus tries to give us as many details as possible when Harry enters places such as Diagon Alley, Gringotts, and the Great Hall. We see the candles float through the air as we are overwhelmed by John Williams’ beautiful musical themes, and we really believe in magic. When Harry enters the Burrow in the Chamber of Secrets, we see Molly’s magical clock, a cooking pan that cleans itself, and needles knitting clothes on their own – and again we believe this is truly a home of wizards. I can’t remember seeing any magical details when Harry enters the Burrow in Half-Blood Prince nor can I remember seeing such things when Harry enters the Lovegood house in Deathly Hallows.
Prisoner of Azkaban was perhaps the most magical movie. Alfonso created a whole new design of Hogwarts and did his absolute best to show all of the magical properties of the enchanted castle. In the Leaky Cauldron, we see how a wizard cleans tables, and we laugh at the cleaning lady who attempts to enter the room of a troll. In Goblet of Fire, Mike Newell had perhaps the most difficult task assigned to him – because that movie had the most complex story (apart from Deathly Hallows, of course) and yet he still found time to show us some magical environments like the Quidditch World cup set. But since David Yates took over, all the magic is gone. It is all just rough storylines – no more, no less.
This seems to me like a dreadful loss. Every review of the Harry Potter books praises J.K. Rowling because of her rich descriptions and the way she makes the magical world look real. If the director simply chooses to neglect this, it is a terrible sin.
But there’s more than magic that withheld us an Oscar. When you’re watching Lord of the Rings, you really feel the magnitude of the story. The battles are heroic. The movies are thrilling from beginning to end, and Peter Jackson tries to make every aspect of the plot as epic as possible. David Yates, however, loves quiet scenes, where few things happen. I’m deeply sorry to say this, but from the moment the trio goes camping in Deathly Hallows – Part One, the movie becomes really slow and is actually boring. The movie is packed with silent scenes in which the main characters just look at each other and feel some sort of emotion. I couldn’t help thinking, was the book that boring? Absolutely not, a lot of things happened. Yates just omitted them and focused on the emotional side of the story.
Yates also thought it was unnecessary for the actors to articulate anything anymore. This is especially true for Ron and Neville, who start to mumble awful phrases. Has anybody understood what Ron said when seeing Ginny when they reenter Hogwarts in Deathly Hallows – Part Two? or Neville in his introduction about the new life at Hogwarts? Yates also ruined every love scene in the book. I hate those moments, such as when Ron says to Hermoine that she still has some toothpaste on her lips, or when Ginny ties Harry’s shoelaces. Those scenes are not romantic, they are awkward.
Another thing is the entry at Hogwarts. Every entry at the Great Hall was always a magical moment in the movie when we could hear magical background music. The best intro is obviously the one in Prisoner of Azkaban with Double Trouble. But no magical intro with Yates. In the Half-Blood Prince we hear no music when Harry enters the Great Hall, we just hear the noise of hundreds of children and Ginny saying some weird phrase about Harry being covered in blood.
But my greatest problem with Yates is obviously the Battle of Hogwarts. The battle scenes in both Order of the Phoenix and the Half-Blood Prince were disappointing, but I have always been under the impression that this was not so strange because they hadn’t enough time to show a decent battle. When I heard DH was split into two parts, immediately I dreamed of a heroic battle of Hogwarts. I thought they would show us everything Rowling described in the book, and so much more – because in a film you can do this. Instead, they showed us nothing but two rapid action sequences where the camera flew rapidly over Hogwarts. We didn’t see anyone actually dueling, nor did we see the main characters dying. In the book Professor Sprout uses venomous tentacula to distract the Death Eaters, Professor Trelawny fights with crystal balls, and even the centaurs attack in the battle. Did we see any of this happen in the movie? Did we see the battle in the Great Hall? In the book it is described that every character dueled with other characters – George Weasley and Lee Jordan against Yaxley, Flitwick against Dolohov, Hagrid against MacNair, Ron and Neville against Greyback, etc. Did we see any of these duels? Every character that had a role in the first seven movies was asked to return for DH – Part Two. Professor Trelawny and Professor Sprout – they where all on the set. But David Yates didn’t think it was necessary to show any of the previous characters fighting or dueling, except one tiny little duel of Mrs. Weasley against Bellatrix. And now we see a huge difference with Lord of the Rings where every minor character gets his ‘moment de gloire’.
Why did we like the Harry Potter movies by David Yates? Because we loved the books. In actuality, the movies were of very low quality. Not magical, not epic, and overall a disgrace to the work of J.K. Rowling.