The Harry Potter franchise was a massive undertaking, wrangling more than 3,000 pages and more than one million words into eight blockbuster movies. Naturally, some scenes didn’t make the cut. Sorry, Deathday Party. Sorry Peeves. Most devastatingly, sorry to the Dursleys’ goodbye to Harry.
Some of those scenes have more of an impact than others. But Harry Potter fans really lost out when it comes to one deleted scene involving Severus Snape. Fittingly, for one of the most complex Harry Potter characters, it’s a scene of quiet contemplation that tells us so much without a single line of dialog.
In the scene cut from Half-Blood Prince, known to fans as ‘In Noctem’, Alan Rickman really shows why he was one of the key pillars of the Harry Potter cast. Set in the unusually still hours before Dumbledore‘s death, it shows Professor Flitwick guiding the school choir in song while numerous characters feel something unsettling in the stormy air.
Draco Malfoy is shown contemplating the murder he has been ordered to commit, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger are looking out of the window, and Snape is depicted staring straight ahead. Rickman allows multiple emotions to play across his face, while the lighting choices show the hero-villain duality at the heart of Snape. It’s beautiful and poignant.
We’d imagine this scene was a casualty of the decision to cut most of the Battle of the Astronomy Tower from the movie. Without the climactic battle, such a scene of foreboding preparation would have felt a little limp and overwrought.
Arguably, this scene also hints a little too strongly at Snape’s true nature with the light and shadow across his face representing his moral journey. When you watch the Harry Potter movies in order, you can see how carefully the best movies in the franchise concealed the fact Snape was ultimately a hero driven by his love for Lily Potter.
When we see Snape murder Dumbledore at the end of Half-Blood Prince, it’s supposed to be a shock. It’s the moment in which we all decide that Snape is an absolute rotter serving as Voldemort‘s right-hand man. Dumbledore’s faith in him was misjudged.
It’s only when we delve into the Pensieve in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, learning the true meaning of the word “Always“, that we discover the truth of Dumbledore’s death. Had we seen Snape’s contemplation prior to the battle, his act of violence might not have had the same, brutal impact.
This scene is a prime example of the disconnect between fans who had read the books and those who eagerly waited for each of the new movies to reveal the plot. For those who already knew how Snape’s story ended, ‘In Noctem’ would have been a moment of extraordinary emotion.
Otherwise, though, it’s an unusual scene that doesn’t quite fit – as impressive as it is. However, there’s a Harry Potter TV series release date on the horizon and we’d like to lobby the creators to include a version of ‘In Noctem’. Though without the late Rickman, it won’t be the same.
For more on Snape, find out why Alan Rickman terrified Rupert Grint after an on-set prank and learn why we can’t forgive the Harry Potter finale for its biggest change from the book.
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.