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Kloves on Adapting Harry Potter: "Books Are Difficult to Wrestle to the Screen"

Posted by: sue
April 30, 2009, 08:40 AM

The Baltimore Sun is running a new article today, featuring an interview with Harry Potter film director David Yates, and also contains new comments from screenwriter Steve Kloves. Mr. Kloves is very complimentary of working with David Yates, and also speaks to the task of transforming the beloved Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling to the big screen.  Of interest are the following comments: "Kindness, decency and patience are the personal qualities that draw the loyalty of Yates' collaborators. Screenwriter Steve Kloves, a distinguished director himself (The Fabulous Baker Boys), has been working with Yates back-to-back-to-back on Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows I and II. He says Yates' "vast resources of patience" are good to have on Potter films, "since the books are difficult to wrestle to the screen." Kloves, the adapter of all but one Potter novel (Phoenix), writes first drafts that tend "to be both wishful and practical" in his desire to retain Rowling's details and plot twists. "Wishful in the sense that I want to get the entire book on the page and practical in the sense that I know the wishful side of me is insane."

The article also contains more from Steve Kloves on the decisions he and director David Yates made regarding which and how many Pensieve scenes to include for Half-Blood Prince.

"Prince presented challenges because of "a series of memories that inform the past and the present." While Yates "enjoyed the flashbacks enormously as separate incidents, he didn't feel they were satisfying within the whole. In other words, they diluted the dramatic experience from his point of view and he felt we needed to concentrate exclusively on those memories that informed one particular thread of the story - the story I was, by and large, telling."

Yates says, "We often have conversations which go along the lines of 'Will the fans really like it if we lose that?' Some choices may be right for the framework of the film but will put the fans out." Yates wants "to make sure the fans are happy" and says he always lets pieces of the book go "regretfully," but his goal is to make "the best adaptation that will warrant spending two-and-a-half hours in the dark."

Finally of note are high praises from director David Yates regarding the performance of actor Rupert Grint in Half-Blood Prince."He's always been the funny one, but he has so much more as an actor than that. In Prince, he has lovely stuff that's funny and true, but in Deathly Hallows, he must be defensive and haunted, and Rupert took to that like a duck to water. I'm always thankful that Jo Rowling gave us a world that allowed us to turn corners with the actors."

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Kloves is fine by me, but the issue that worries me is that there are huge omissions in the overall story line across the movies that need to be addressed so that the entire set of films will ultimately make sense. The fewest omissions are in the first two films directed by Columbus —and frankly the scenes were deleted rather than not shot —and the most gaps happened in OotP, with several important ones in GoF. So, what concerns me is the lack of mention of how the entire set of films will hold together as one single story rather than as seven (eight) separate stories strung together.

@bBudgie, my thought has always been that in 25 or 30 years the BBC might be able do the stories as only the BBC can…..imagine today’s young actors playing the more mature roles? Radcliff as Snape (which we now know is the real juicy role!)? Watson as Trelawney? Felton as…well, as Lucius? For those who will still be around, I envy you!


Posted by budb on April 30, 2009, 09:55 AM report to moderator
40 Points

Oh please! Kloves thinks its hard because hes a moron! I mean half the books are already written like a screenplay. Jo did 90% percent of the work for him, and he goes and completely ruins it. Honestly, i am a huge fan of the harry potter books, read every one over 10 times, but the movies are pathetic. Not even comparing them to the books, just as movies in general they’re awful. At least LOTR won some awards, they maybe didn’t follow the books but the movies were good. Harry Potter movies: script, acting, direction all 100% lame. Half of the movies don’t even make sense to people who haven’t read the books!! Seriously they’re just trying to make a buck any way they can. Its sick!!!

Posted by NoxNiveus on April 30, 2009, 10:05 AM report to moderator
2963 Points

the comments about adapting a book to a film seem silly as a hard core harry potter fan. i understand that something do not translate well, but do not know why. i would love to see an animated series that follows the books to the letter. they would proberly be very long. has any one made a film that has been slated by the fans of a book that was true to the books story line?

Posted by prof mewthree "squee" on April 30, 2009, 10:42 AM report to moderator
320 Points

And yet, NoxNiveus, you continue to see the movies. Interesting.

Posted by jeannemclROAR on April 30, 2009, 10:44 AM report to moderator
146 Points

I’m excited for this one. Based on what I’ve seen from the trailers I’m giving Kloves the benefit of the doubt. I personally thought the first 2 movies were crap, but I think that was more Columbus’s direction than the adapation of the books, but that’s just me.

Posted by skiving snackboxes on April 30, 2009, 11:07 AM report to moderator
8069 Points

Yay Rupert! I am looking forward to this movie for so many reasons. I think the acting is going to be the best yet.

Posted by Melinae ♥Squee♥/Professor Truffle on April 30, 2009, 11:25 AM report to moderator
1884 Points

This all sounds good but I will wait until I see HBP. I still have trouble watching OOTP. It was so choppy.

Posted by Cool G on April 30, 2009, 11:44 AM report to moderator
181 Points

Those who say adapting a book to film is easy fail to understand the fundemental differences between a book and a film. What works in a book doesn’t always work when transferred to film, hence the word “adaptation”.

It’s one of the reasons they invented the Burrow scene – with Jo’s full co-operation – because the little hints of what is going on in the outside world that are dropped in at various times in the book, wouldn’t work very well on the screen. Unlike many of her fans, Jo understands the difference between a book and a film.

If you want a moving storyboard, that’s fine, but a lot of us who are fans of the medium of film, as well as of the HP books, want to see a living breathing film that works on it’s own terms, not just a moving storyboard that ticks off the checklist of everybody’s favourite part of the books.

I have been disappointed that sometimes my favourite scenes from the books have been left out, but overall happy with the results of the films (with some criticisms – they aren’t perfect) in comparisons to many other adaptations.

There are some changes in HBP that I questioned at first (particularly one of my favourite scenes from the book), and some inventions for the screen, but I am actually excited for some of the “new” scenes in the film, as I see them as being done in the spirit of the books, with a slightly different interpretation to take into account the fact that they cannot make a 10 hour film.

I suggest that you go into the cinema looking forward to seeing a film that is enjoyable and portrays the spirit of the books, with the major themes and moments important to the overall story in place, and don’t go in with a 100 point checklist of what is in the books, you are bound to come out disappointed.

Posted by mouse68 on April 30, 2009, 11:48 AM report to moderator
3186 Points

More for rupert ! he’s awesome

Posted by FrancescaElle on April 30, 2009, 12:08 PM report to moderator
32 Points

Darn, I was hoping for a hint about where they split the movies.

I hope he does a good job! So far the dialog from the trailers has been pretty great!!

Posted by Lindy on April 30, 2009, 12:18 PM report to moderator
3686 Points

yayaya more love for Rupert and for anyone that critizies the way the films are adapted, all i have to say is , u try it , it must be bloody hard to know exactly what to leave in and take out.
i’m upset when they leave out some things but i think that the films would be stupid and too long if they leave in everything.
they are called adaptations for a reason.I just try to enjoy the films for what the are.
ooo and yaya the film is coming closer

Posted by sunshine123ROAR on April 30, 2009, 12:19 PM report to moderator
145 Points

mouse68, well put.

I felt as I was reading HBP they would have problems with adapting the book because so much of it — the memories — basically made the main character a passive observer. Because movies are so visual in nature, especially for films such as these, keeping the action going with only breaks for pacing is essential. Having every single memory scene would have pretty much brought the narrative flow to a halt.

People moan how this or that isn’t in the movies, so they are therefore awful. I wonder what they think about the Bourne movies. Except for the most basic plot points, almost everything is different from the books. For example, they changed Marie’s nationality — not to mention her outcome in the second movie. Look at Jaws. In the book Hooper dies.

Posted by zoltan42 on April 30, 2009, 12:36 PM report to moderator
400 Points

Some people are really harsh towards the movies, and especially to Kloves. I love the books. I love the movies.

Posted by But Hagrid... on April 30, 2009, 12:47 PM report to moderator
2588 Points

I don’t completely understand why people hate on Kloves so much. I got into the series throught the movies first so i don’t have any issue with him. With a book to movie translation it is impossible to please everybody all the time. Especially with a book like GOF because it is so long and a lot will have to be cut out. I have enjoyed his adaptations. After all the movies are just interpretations of the books. Plus J.K. Rowling has given her blessing so that is good enough for me.

Posted by phantomdave79 on April 30, 2009, 01:10 PM report to moderator
6352 Points

I can’t be angry with Kloves. Although I hated GOF, POA is my favorite HP film and Kloves adapted both for the screen. I agree wth Kloves – he does have a very difficult job. But sometimes I think we forget that the screenwriter doesn’t work in a vacuum. If we’re unhappy with a film, at least some of the blame should go to the director.

I accept the films for what I think they are – action adventure stories with a moral. I LOVE the books and I think the films are fun to watch. I don’t expect any more than that.

Posted by KB Prez [ROAR!] on April 30, 2009, 01:14 PM report to moderator
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