The Harry Potter movies are a great example of adaptation done well. Important scenes largely stayed and, for the most part, everything that hit the cutting room floor was justified (except for Peeves, we needed Peeves). However, when it came to the final movie, one particular scene had to change – otherwise Potter would run the risk of getting the same criticism as another fantasy behemoth.
Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings were a huge part of our childhood, so we spent many happy hours with our favorite Harry Potter characters and in Tolkien’s world. But as much as we love the final LotR movie, it has more endings than a Hobbit has breakfasts. Potter needed to avoid the same fate but, with so many Harry Potter cast members to cater for in the Deathly Hallows movies, that was a tough task.
That problem led to a big change, with several climactic story threads tied in to one big scene in the remnants of the battle-ravaged Hogwarts. “We were concerned about having ending-itis and having too many endings. So we combined the destroying or burial of the Elder Wand with their final moments at Hogwarts,” said producer David Heyman on the Blu-ray commentary.
In the book, Harry uses the power of the Elder Wand to repair his own broken wand and then buries it in Dumbledore‘s tomb. This would mean that the wand’s power would come to an end when its current master, Harry, died. This had been Dumbledore’s plan when he first asked for the wand to be buried with him.
Heyman and director David Yates desperately wanted to avoid the same criticisms that Lord of the Rings received, so they thought this might be an ending too far on the big screen. The team got in touch with the Potter author for her approval ahead of shooting the final two new movies based on her books.
“I called Jo [Rowling] about this because clearly it’s a big departure from a significant moment in the book,” said Heyman. “She gave us her blessing and actually thought it was a wonderful idea.”
This decision makes complete sense from a logistics point of view and we certainly had no desire for the last moments of Deathly Hallows – which we’d put up there with the best movies in the franchise – to become anything like Return of the King’s exhausting final hour. But there was a real narrative satisfaction in Harry repairing his own wand and ending the story of the Elder Wand, which is lost in the movie version.
In fact, the fate of the Deathly Hallows is entirely absent from the movie, even though they’re named in the title. Such are the sacrifices you have to make to turn hefty novels into the best fantasy movies around. When you can’t stand to cut things, you end up with the bloat of the Lord of the Rings finale.
Potter fans might get more detail, though, in the future. The books are set for a brand new adaptation when the Harry Potter TV series release date comes around. A longform TV show should present more screen time and, therefore, more of the material that didn’t make the cut a decade ago.
If you want to revisit the Wizarding World, check out our guide to the Harry Potter movies in order and learn about the dastardly Harry Potter villains our heroes had to avoid. And we think it could have turned out very differently if Voldemort had found this Horcrux hiding place.
As for the future, look ahead to the Fantastic Beasts 4 release date and the Cursed Child release date. We have our own hopes for the stage play too because the Cursed Child movie needs to be a gay romance.
The creator of the Harry Potter series, JK Rowling, has made a number of transphobic remarks on social media in recent years. If you’d like to learn more about transgender equality or lend your support, here are two charities we encourage you to visit: the National Center for Transgender Equality in the US, and Mermaids in the UK.