Directors’ Cut: “Harry Potter” Directors’ Favorite Scenes
Every Harry Potter fan has a favorite scene (or two, or three…) and most would be glad to tell you just what those scenes are. Any one person may give you a completely different list of scenes and may have substantial arguments in favor of those choices. But what about an inside look?
Now, the directors of the Harry Potter movies have revealed their favorite scenes from each of their films, along with descriptions of what made those scenes so special for them. Entertainment Weekly collected a list of favorite scenes from each of the eight films from Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón, and David Yates, as well as producer David Heyman, along with descriptions of what made each scene special. The reasons behind their selections range from the practical to the emotional, but the common ground among all of these crew members is that each of these scenes made them feel the magic of Harry Potter in some way.
Chris Columbus loves seeing Hogwarts come to life on screen. His favorite scene from his first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, is the first view of the Great Hall at the beginning-of-the-year feast and Sorting Ceremony.
Our special effects team painstakingly attached hundreds of candles to the ceiling. […] We only had one crack at it. When we got the dailies…everyone gets chills. I’ve got tears in my eyes. The crew applauded. We created the magic without CGI.
Columbus’s favorite scene in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets likewise involved an impressive set reveal. In this case, it was the first view of the Chamber of Secrets. Columbus loves production designer Stuart Craig’s “stunning” set, which was built down to the last detail “without any CGI work whatsoever.” Columbus recalls, “To see that projected on the big screen for the first time was a moment where we all gasped.”
Alfonso Cuarón thinks back on the process of filming his favorite scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in the Shrieking Shack and the positive experience of working with the actors.
I remember fondly shooting the Shrieking Shack scene just because I had the joy to be working [not only] with Daniel and Rupert and Emma, but also with Gary Oldman and David Thewlis and Timothy Spall and Alan Rickman. All of them in this very crazy scene but with such conviction.
David Heyman reflects on his favorite scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, in which the competitors in the Triwizard Tournament go into the Black Lake for the second challenge. “Filming in an actual loch would have been too cold and impractical,” so they had to explore alternative methods.
David Yates is interested in the emotional effect of his favorite scenes, for example, the scene in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in which Harry encounters a Dementor in the subway.
I wanted to bring the films into the real world, and an urban underpass feels very real and threatening at night — the perfect place to come across a Dementor.
He also appreciates the solidarity of the students and professors at Hogwarts as shown in the scene in which they all “stand together against the darkness, united” after Dumbledore’s death in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, calling the visual “stirring and moving.”
Like Cuarón, Yates thinks fondly of the process of filming his favorite scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, in which members of the Order of the Phoenix take Polyjuice Potion prior to the Battle of the Seven Potters. “We filmed multiple versions of Dan being different characters,” says Yates. “It was fun.”
Yates’s favorite scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is appropriately bittersweet for the final film in the series. He says this scene, when Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet on the bridge after the downfall of Voldemort, “is where they were saying goodbye to their extraordinary journey and their childhood.”
The directors’ and producer’s favorite scenes give a fascinating look into their minds and reflect the personalities of both them and their films. What do you think of their choices? Do you share any of their favorites?