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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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2588 Points

“Half of the movies don’t even make sense to people who haven’t read the books!”
- NoxNiveus

Wow, you are not even in the vicinity of the ball park with this statement. Seeing as I saw the first five movies prior to reading the books and I was able to follow the story just fine.

Posted by phantomdave79 on April 30, 2009, 01:17 PM report to moderator

Rupert Grint was always my favorite of the movie kids, a natural actor. He’s the one I’d be looking for after the Potter thing is over.

Posted by sgt_majorette on April 30, 2009, 01:18 PM report to moderator
4024 Points

Everything is looking really good. I cannot wait for the movie to be released. :)

59 Points

Those who complain about the HP movies as “unfaithful” to the books must not have read & seen many book-to-film adaptions. I think Kloves & the filmakers have done a good job.

Posted by Old_gnarled_woman on April 30, 2009, 02:24 PM report to moderator
4151 Points

cannot wait for this film. seriously! so exciting!

Posted by mai {beatnik owl} on April 30, 2009, 02:57 PM report to moderator
5489 Points

i’m really excited to see rupert play more than just the comic relief sort of ron in DH.. he’s such a great actor, i know he’ll do wonderfully.

Posted by avrenim [WBM!] on April 30, 2009, 03:03 PM report to moderator
5489 Points

i’m really excited to see rupert play more than just the comic relief sort of ron in DH.. he’s such a great actor, i know he’ll do wonderfully.

Posted by avrenim [WBM!] on April 30, 2009, 03:04 PM report to moderator

If Evanna said it was good, then I trust her judgement.

But I cannot wait, I’ve grown to LOVE Rupert’s acting, I think he has the most potential of the main trio (he can interpret lines and acts so wonderfully, and always has been able to, but his only problem is he clams up at big-scale interviews I think – it’s admirable for him to be so shy, but he needs to expand his vocabulary when talking to interviewers so he can promote his movies well! But then again, I think if he’s good enough he won’t even have to say much about them to get more film roles). ;) Yayy!

Posted by Libby on April 30, 2009, 03:33 PM report to moderator
3987 Points

Hahaha, well I just can’t wait (as I say in most of my posts!) to actually see the movies. It sounds like Ron has a bigger part now.

Posted by BewareoftheNargles {WBM} on April 30, 2009, 03:35 PM report to moderator
176 Points

I am beyond sick of these Kloves haters. He has done so much for thr series and dedicated so much time and won Jo’s apporval yet you people continue to hate im just cause he cut out your favorite scene. Please. Give me a break. He has written very good and solid screenplays. Miles better than OotP’s awful screenplays anyway. At least Kloves understands pacing and how a movie should be structured.

Posted by Leo_Lovegood on April 30, 2009, 03:51 PM report to moderator
2169 Points

Yay Go Rupes! Everybody is talking about his performance, I am sure its gonna be a standout! Rupert is the best actor of the trio, not that Dan and Emma are bad, they are really good as well. I am glad bc of Steve´s return, he always considers what JK says. He did an awesome work in SS and COS, for me they were the best screenplays. And it must be really hard to adapt the books indeed. there are so many things that I ask" How the heel are they gonna put that in the film?" In the books is easy to let imaginationn flies, everything is possible in literature, but in cinema is much harder.

Posted by Tamyris on April 30, 2009, 03:51 PM report to moderator
1040 Points

This makes me even happier to have Kloves back. Of course the adaptations are never going to be perfect, since I would love the entire book to come alive on screen with zero changes. I know that can’t happen.

Of the two screenwriters we’ve had I think Kloves has done a better job by miles, as I still can hardly bear to watch OoTP. Whether the bulk of the blame for that lies with the screenwriter or the director remains to be seen, though. Or maybe it was a combo of the two, in which case hopefully Kloves will help Yates fill in any holes he might have left on his own. If HBP is as choppy and disjointed as OoTP, then that will be a shame.

I am glad they cut a lot of the Pensieve scenes as they get a bit tedious even in the book, but I hope if nothing else that Yates learned from OoTP not to shortcut the emotions of the scenes. He needed to hold ten more seconds on Sirius’ death scene before cutting to Harry chasing after Bellatrix. If they’d held there, the entire audience would have been on the floor bawling their heads off over Harry’s grief. Instead, he cut right at the moment when the emotion was about to boil over and shortchanged the whole thing. That is my biggest complaint with that film. All the emotion was cut short or eliminated.

The big lesson my group of HP fans and I have learned is not to read the books right before seeing the films. We’re going to have a movie marathon instead, so that we are firmly back in “movie mode” before the release and hope that that will blunt our natural tendency to compare the movie to the book and find it wanting.

Having said all that, though, based on the trailers, pictures and interviews, I am pretty darn excited for this movie. If it holds up to the hype it may become my favorite of the six so far. I hope!! And Deathly Hallows is already looking and sounding amazing, it is going to be a loooooong wait for that one. sigh

Posted by Headmistress LemonFaerie on April 30, 2009, 04:17 PM report to moderator
6690 Points

i don’t mind kloves either…we really can’t be spoiled…i can’t imagine what these movies would be like in another universe with out the same people behind them. i know there are things we would have preferred differently but i don’t think the grass is greener with these things.

and please, don’t talk about a tv show…please —-no

43 Points

Well, obviously it would be more interesting for most of the fans to have the entire books directly transferred to images down to last word. A 1-hour episode for each chapter or something of that sort. I can understand those who don’t appreciate the work of Steve Kloves in that respect. However, the fundamental difference between words and images will always be there to create conflicts in these situations. No decent filmmaker in the world would be willing to transfer an entire work of literature into images. There would be no artistry in that. What can be achieved through a book adaptation at best is that it captures the essence, the core, of the work of literature in question and still maintains its unique qualities as a work of moving images. None of the Harry Potter films so far have achieved that in my opinion, and nor can you expect it (commercialism). One of them gets close however, and that is Prisoner of Azkaban. For that, Steve Kloves, but in front of all Alfonso Cuarón – I believe – ought to be praised. I don’t expect these remaining films to please me, but I am fairly certain most Potter fans will enjoy them, which would mean Steve Kloves has done his job quite well.

I agree with some of what you say, but if you truly think “half the books are already written like a screenplay” then you have obviously never read a screenplay.

Posted by sachem on April 30, 2009, 04:43 PM report to moderator

I disagree with you moglet. Phoenix was all wrong. Everything was bassackwards, not to mention that Ron and Hermione looked like they were mad at Harry for the entire film. I can list at least 20 things that were wrong from book to film, but I won’t go into it here. I think the first four movies were as close to the books as possible considering the movies had to be 2.5 hrs or less. OotP was the longest book of the series and the shortest movie. (HUH! Why?) The writing was all wrong. The sequence of events were all wrong. I think it should have been called “HP and Prof. Umbridge”. I, myself am glad Kloves is back. At least he seems like he studied the books before writing the script.

Posted by dariansdad on April 30, 2009, 04:49 PM report to moderator
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