SPEW Presents: House-Elves on the Silver Screen (Or Lack Thereof)
On this day 21 years ago, Hermione Granger formed SPEW to promote fair treatment of house-elves. In honor of this anniversary, put on your SPEW badges, and go fight for the cause! Here are our top house-elf moments we wish had been included in the films.
I think this was a seriously missed opportunity. On the surface, Winky’s slide into her butterbeer addiction is comical, so it would have been an entertaining addition to the films. Also, on closer examination, it’s an honest and tragic look at what unemployment can do to a person (or elf), and this could have gone well with the real-world themes that the movies started to pull in toward the end of the franchise, such as the obvious comparison between Nazi Germany and the corruption of the Ministry of Magic.
Who didn’t want to see the house-elf army using their kitchen knives to hack away at the Death Eaters’ ankles? I think we all wanted to see that endearing moment where the elves are defending their home, and Kreacher is fighting to avenge the death of his master, Regulus Black.
It’s no secret that the only reason Kreacher even made it into the 5th film is because J.K. Rowling hinted that he would be important later on. Even though they did briefly show the house-elf heads on the wall in No. 12 Grimmauld Place, I wish they had elaborated a little more on the subject of the house-elves and their devotion to the House of Black. As creepy and morbid as it is to have your life’s ambition be to have your head mounted on a wall, it was an extra element of crazy to explain the Black family. They are, after all, the relatives of Bellatrix Lestrange, so any detail about how they lived is insight into why Bellatrix is so deranged.
The Hogwarts kitchen staff
I can’t help but wish we had gotten a scene in the kitchens. The way the elves hand out the food combined with the lost moments of Fred and George “sneaking” food from the kitchens would have added another moment of humor since the twins did not do anything nearly as impressive as the other Gryffindors thought. It’s also funny that the house-elves are supposed to be so strictly by-the-book, but they are helping students get away with something they aren’t supposed to do. It makes one wonder if Dumbledore knew students took food from the kitchens, and he almost encouraged his employees to give handouts.
The whole Harry/Kreacher relationship was interesting to watch in the books, including Kreacher begrudgingly following Draco for Harry in Half-Blood Prince. This would have developed the elf’s presence, rather than dropping him into the story in Deathly Hallows after only giving viewers a shadowy glimpse of him in Order of the Phoenix.
Kreacher warming up to Harry
In Deathly Hallows, Harry thinks of Kreacher making the trio dinner back at Grimmauld Place where they wouldn’t be returning and feels a pang for the elf who would be awaiting his return. When I read this section of the book, I thought it was actually kind of touching. Harry earned Kreacher’s respect by treating him as more than just a servant to do his bidding, and the two actually began to get along.
One of my favorite Dobby moments is when he appears in Goblet of Fire, and it is learned that all the socks and hats that Hermione has been leaving around the common room in an effort to free elves have gone to one recipient. The image of Dobby drowning under a pile of hats is one I would have liked to have seen on screen.
The cutting of SPEW made me sad at the time of the Goblet of Fire movie release, and I have developed more reasons for why it should have been included as we’ve learned more about the unwritten future of the book characters. The SPEW plot is important to understanding Hermione’s future endeavors of working in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures to improve living conditions for house-elves and other non-human magical creatures. It would have been nice to see something that was clearly so influential to Hermione make it into the films.