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Old March 30th, 2007, 5:57 pm
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Wimsey  Male.gif Wimsey is offline
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Re: What do you have to explain to your friends and family who only see the movies?

Originally Posted by MmeBergerac View Post
I always must explain that the Shrieking Shack scene is much better and has much more information in the book. People always hear me saying that part is wonderful, and then are a bit dissapointed of they only see the movie.
Actually, the version in the book is what is known as a first-order idiot plot sensu Damon Knight. That is, the plot requires that an otherwise intelligent person do something really stupid: in this case, Lupin prattles on and on about his childhood as a werewolf, which causes him to overlook the completely unrelated matter that he is about to become a werewolf. It also requires Hermione and Black to conveniently forget that it is the full moon outside. So, a much faster paced scene was necessary: if Lupin is about to become a werewolf, then they should be in a rush.

Even if it had not been for that, it still needed to be reduced. Nothing in Lupin's monologue is relevant to the plot or the story. It is nice backstory, but how the map came to be simply is not important to the plot (that Lupin knows it is a map is the only important point) and the why of it is ancient history. It is much like the Council of Elrond scene in Lord of the Rings. There is a lot of talking there, and you get a lot of the history of Middle earth. Yes, it is cool for Tolkien fans: but is also is a point where a lot of people quit reading the book! In the end, there is very little truly useful information. As much as Tolkien fans howled at its reduction, the movie was much better for streamlining it and cutting to the important points. The same is true for the Shrieking Shack: so much talking with no outcome would have killed the pace and left audiences asking: why include all of that if it was not directly important to the plot or story?

Originally Posted by Lillbet View Post
Whoops. Misunderstood. I've never actually seen the movies with folks who haven't read the books.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of the people who see the movies do not even start the books. Indeed, we know now that most of the adults who start the book (at least in Great Britain) do not even finish the books! (A recent survey found that nearly one third of the adults in Britain had started Goblet but failed to finish it, and there is no way that 2/3rds of the adults in Britain even start to read the book!)

At most, book readers are about ~25% of the audience. They are a bit over half of the opening audience, and a small proportion after that. (The fans rush out to see the film, as do fans of general action/adventure; other people see it later.) Real fans of the book (like us) are, at most, 10-15% of the audience, given the difference in how Harry Potter fans and general audiences rated the last two movies. (I had a post here ages ago that used population statistics to demonstrate this.)

Originally Posted by corunner81 View Post
I've only watched POA with people who haven't read the books, and I had to explain the map and why it was important and how Lupin knew so much about it, etc. And the time travel. . . yeah
How did you explain the time travel? The book provides no more explanation than does the movie.

Also, why did you need to explain the map? How did you explain how Fred & George knew how to work the map? Did people ask this, or did you ask them afterwards?

Originally Posted by leahdk08 View Post
And I mean everything. I would have to fill him in on parts that were left out, and so on. After watching the 4th movie and getting all the details from me, he decided it was time he started reading the books! He's not really into reading, but he's working his way along.
Again, did he really not understand what was happening? General audiences had no trouble following the last two movies, except for three details:
  1. How did Harry survive to travel back in time when this depended on his already having survived? (This is NOT explained in the book, either.)
  2. What was Polyjuice Potion? (Audiences did not remember it from Chamber, and the movie followed the book in not presenting a scene that showed it.)
  3. What was the "egg" from the second task that let Harry perform the third task? (There was no such thing in the book, but people assumed that it had been cut.)

How Lupin knew about the map was no more a general question from the audiences than how Fred & George knew about it: once it was established that Lupin knew about it, the audiences followed along.

The vast majority of the details cut from both movies actually were not relevant to the main plots (being side plots themselves) or the stories. So, I really think that most of the "questions" from non-readers were raised only after readers prompted them. Remember, Lord of the Rings fans made the same claims: i.e., that non-readers could not possibly understand the movies. However, people do not like movies that they do not understand: which means that with 95% positive marks, people understood the Lord of the Rings movies. The last two Harry Potter movies also got very high marks from audiences (although not quite LotR levels: but those movies were real outliers!), which means that audiences understood them well enough. There were no plot holes and nothing that did not follow: again, establishing that Lupin knowing that the map works is what the plot requires: how he knows is no more important than how Fred & George know.

(It doubles for The Hobbit, too!)
If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there. - A. P. Chekhov, Gurlyand's Reminiscences, and who knew why the Dog was long before the Shack!

Last edited by Wimsey; March 30th, 2007 at 6:07 pm.
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