English Lit Essays - VERY LONG
On second thought, can a mod please move this to 'Editing & Writing Topics'
Ok, I don't know what the likely hood of anybody going through these or anything, but thought I would share them with others that may want to offer suggestions.
These are 2 separate papers I completed 3-6 weeks ago for my English Lit class. Feel free to have a casual read through them and make some notes. :)
This first essay is one that I completed on the differences between Harry Potter and the Philosophers(Sorcerers) Stone novel and film. For this assignment, I received a pass mark. (18/30)
Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone is a well regarded novel written by J.K. Rowling. Since its publication in June 1997, it has become one of the foremost popular fantasy novels directed at a broad audience, the franchise itself having sold over 400 million copies of the books. During the 21st century, it has gained the attention and popularity of both older and younger readers as an escape into a wonderful world of fantasy, containing magic and wonder. In 2000, J.K Rowling agreed to the promotion and creation of the very first Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone, directed by Chris Columbus and adapted by Steve Kloves. However upon the films creation, it came under an avalanche of criticism regarding its separation from the books original plot line. Through scrutinizing both mediums, this essay will provide an analysis of the many different facets of the novel and film and some similarities they share, as well as the purpose of utilising both mediums.
Film adaptations based on novels are regularly produced in order to reach a broader audience than which the novel was first directed. In some cases, when a novel is adapted, there is no change in the plot, story line or character development, however in other cases; various changes are made to the original text in order to reach an even broader audience. Those changes occur as the result of the producers and directors attempting to put a stronger emphasis on specific details which they feel may be an important capture point that may seem interesting to the target audience. Some aspects which may influence the adaptation are the length of the novel, which can cause the inability to condense it, this may lead to content being altered or ignored all together. Due to this large constriction, novels such as Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone, which in itself is a 223 page novel, require time restrictions placed, in order to keep the adaptation within a reasonable running time for the given audience. This alteration to the story can lead to characters being omitted, story line changed, and scenes restructured.
In order to remain as similar as possible to the original piece of work the adaptation may sacrifice many characters in order to keep most relevant content. In most cases, the director opted to alter scenes which he felt were not crucial to the plot line, as a way to ensure more crucial scenes were left mostly untouched. Few scenes depicted in the novel were altered in order to ensure a large amount of other details more critical to the story line were left wholly untouched. In an interview with Katie Couric, Chris Columbus noted that he wished to remain as true to the book, and to Rowling as possible, confirming that he wanted to “remain faithful to the material” (Columbus, 2011) Other sacrifices that had to be made due to character changes, were scene re-configurations and alterations to the plot line, in order to remove and replace characters that were no longer going to be starring in the film. It is edits such as these that the fan base which preferred the novel, reacted to, in regards to the changing of the story.
Scene re-configurations and plot alterations happened throughout the film, however they did not always detract from the story line, and in fact, in some cases added content. A specific scene in which this occurred was a scene depicted in ‘The Dark Forest’. In the novel, the scene consisted of Hagrid and his dog, Draco, Harry, Hermione, and Neville. However in the movie, Columbus opted to remove Neville from the scene, and replace him with Ron, in order to give the audience the impression the group of three had been turned into the stars of the film. “But I think the biggest challenge of the first film was just treading carefully on what we were able to do and tearing the movie down to under three hours.” (Columbus, n.d.) Due to the little effect Neville has throughout the first book, Columbus felt it was a necessary sacrifice, in order to not remove important details and show the main characters having an exciting and dangerous adventure that the viewers had come to expect from the novel.
During the filming of the movie, Columbus strived to maintain true to the novels plot line in relation to the major topics, and the details that built up to those events. There are several differences between the novel and the book. These do not necessarily impact the story line, or make either medium any less enjoyable, but were used as a means to maintain a time frame. Columbus says “I just want kids to see the movie and when they walk out of the theatre say that was just as I imagined it” (Columbus, 2011) This is achievable with some of the details, however with others, where major changes were made, it is impossible to tell whether those changes were for the betterment of the film. For example, a scene depicted in the novel, that is responsible for creating Harry Potters nemesis in the series. This pivotal meeting takes place between Harry Potter, and his nemesis at Hogwarts, originally takes place in Diagon Alley, in “Madam Malkins Robes For All Occasions”. “I think I’ll bully father into getting me one and I’ll smuggle it in somehow.” Harry was strongly reminded of Dudley.” (Rowling, 1997, p. 60). While Columbus decided to have the first meeting once they were in Hogwarts. While in the film, Harry makes no reference to Malfoy reminding him of Dudley. It is this scene in the novel that truly depicts Harry’s strong distaste for this type of behaviour present. Changes such as this can have an impact in telling the story, dependant on the reader or viewer.
Due to other choices of character changes used in this adaptation, entire sections of the novel were omitted from the film. Most notably, the scenes containing the Professors Bins and Sprout. Their roles in the film were entirely removed, even though they are in numerous scenes throughout the novel. Professor Sprout is the Herbology Professor, a class of which is entirely omitted, is a crucial plot point in the novel, as a class in which Harry, Ron and Hermione, all learn set skills that lead to the climax at the end of the film, and novel. In the novel, Professor Sprout first appears on page 99, “Three times a week, they went out to the greenhouses behind the castle to study Herbology, with a dumpy little witch called Professor Sprout, where they learnt how to take care of all the strange plants and fungi and found out what they were used for”. Even though this exact class in mentioned during the ending scenes, and is depicted as quite a large learning moment due to that scene, it is entirely omitted from the movie. Professor Sprout does not star in the movies until the second movie. In an interview conducted by Empire Magazine, Columbus explains his reasoning behind the omission of certain characters, explaining that in a novel adaptation, everything cannot be included. “I loved the book so much that it was extremely difficult to cut elements out. One of my favourite characters never made the film – Peeves, the annoying, sort of, mischievous poltergeist. Those sorts of things, there was just too much to film.” (Columbus, n.d., para. 18.). Columbus explains that these decisions were not made light heartedly, but were sacrificed in order to include more fundamental events that occurred in the novel. The omission of these characters was decided as the director felt that it would not hinder the plot line.
Changes such as these can alter the story and plot line of the novel, however they may not necessarily change the overall telling of the story. These alterations are most probably made to simplify the storyline so it can suit the film. In doing this, it ensures a lower production cost and overall running time, by not needing to construct numerous new sets for scenes that will only continue for less than five minutes. These scenes that don’t heavily influence the novel or film are generally changed or neglected. An example of this is the scene in which Hagrid shows up to tell Harry about Hogwarts. “Harry – Yer a wizard” (Rowling, 1997). Upon receiving this news, in the novel, Hagrid remains with Harry, on the little rock out on the sea, however in the movie, it cuts straight to them leaving and arriving at Diagon Alley. It is in such instances that Columbus has cut away dialogue and scenes in order to maintain the time frame while not detracting from the plot line in an overly interfering way.
Last edited by HanibalII; 06-Nov-2012 at 03:17.
I'm not a teacher yet, but I am studying a Bachelor of Education with an English Literature major at Charles Sturt University, in NSW, Australia.