Whether because they split the final book in half or it's just one of the easiest to translate to the screen, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is the movie most loyal to the book it's based on, replicating many scenes moment to moment and line for line, in a way that's bound to thrill long-term fans even if it confuses a few of the newbies. But any time these stories are translated to the screen there are changes, and I was able to pinpoint the 10 biggest differences between Deathly Hallows Part 1 and the book it's based on. Some are nitpicky, some are major, and there are a few you might not even notice until the movie is finished. Screenwriter Steve Kloves does a great job of condensing the story we already know so well, and for the most part these are all good changes; still, any hard-core Potter fan will feel this sticking out almost immediately.
Check out my list of the 10 biggest changes, and suggest any others that you noticed in the comments below.
This should go without saying, but SPOILERS for both the book and movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows-- both parts.
We see Hermione obliviate her parents. The film opens with a nice series of vignettes showing Hermione, Ron and Harry each preparing for their coming journey, and we see what was only described in the book, as Hermione, holding back tears, wipes her parents' memories to protect them. It's a sad and really touching way to start off the film, and a reminder that the movies are often as much about Ron and Hermione as they are about Harry.
The escape from the Dursleys is tweaked in a lot of ways. Everything about the opening few scenes have been condensed, from not showing Harry's farewells with the Dursleys-- including Dudley's slight moment of redemption, which is a bummer-- to sending Harry and Hagrid straight to the Burrow after the big Death Eater chase scene, rather than a series of safe houses and then to the Weasleys via portkey. The changes are almost all for the better, making the opening scenes more concise and thrilling, and the addition of sending Harry and Hagrid on a Muggle highway to escape the Death Eaters is the kind of thing J.K.. Rowling never would have written-- too out in the open!-- but works great onscreen.
Ron confronts Harry and convinces him not to leave the Burrow on his own. In the book, the moment everyone has arrived safely at the Burrow (well, everyone but Mad Eye and Hedwig), Harry announces that he's leaving in front of the group, and gets a whole bunch of glares in response. Somewhat more logically, in the movie he sneaks out in the cover of darkness, only to be confronted by the ever reliable Ron, who reminds Harry that he'll never make it without Hermione anyway. The interaction between them is a nice reminder of the funny friendship between them, and even helps lead up to Ron's later jealousy about Harry's mission as the "chosen one."
The trio spends no time plotting the break-in to the Ministry. Now that doesn't mean they don't plan it, just that we spend no time watching it, when in the book they spent weeks figuring out every single detail. It makes the whole thing feel a little more slipshod, but then again, a lot more suspenseful, since you have no idea when the trio stops knowing exactly what they're doing. Well, make that Hermione-- Ron and Harry never really did seem to know how the plot was supposed to go.
No portrait of Phineas Nigellus Black. None of the talking portraits in Grimmauld Place play a role in the film, but especially missing is the former Hogwarts headmaster, whose portrait Hermione stows away in her bag to give them information about what's going on at Hogwarts. Phineas being in the movie could have helped some of the details of the story be clearer, but it's also kind of nice to feel that claustrophobia of just Harry, Ron and Hermione in that tent.
Harry and Hermione dance together in the tent.
It's a scene that never could have worked in the books, and even feels a little jarring at first-- Hermione usually isn't into things like dancing and needing comforting, unless Viktor Krum is involved-- but when Harry and Hermione are depressed about Ron running away, they tune into a song on the radio and share a silly, friendly dance together. It says so much about the level of their relationship, which is especially important given Ron's Horcrux nightmare later that puts Harry and Hermione together kissing-- we know completely from the dance that theirs is a deep, platonic friendship, something the books have much more time to explain but is done nicely and quickly in the movie.
Harry doesn't discover the writing on the Snitch until much later. After Rufus Scrimgeour hands over the Snitch to Harry in the book, Harry goes upstairs at the Burrow and puts his mouth to it, remembering he caught that one with his mouth and not his hand. For whatever reason, Harry doesn't remember this key detail until much later in the movie, when he and Hermione are camping out and Ron has disappeared. The message, "I open at the close," won't become clear until the very end of the second movie, so maybe they were just saving it toward the end so people will remember it better? It's one of the few changes I can't quite figure out.
They barely use the invisibility cloak. As they escape Death Eaters and go back and forth from Grimmauld Place and apparate to a new camping spot every night, Harry, Ron and Hermione constantly duck under the invisibility cloak for extra protection. Not only does the invisibility never actually look that great on film, but it allows for a lot fewer close calls, which are more fun to watch in the movie. The invisibility cloak isn't forgotten, of course-- they trio share a significant look when it's revealed as one of the Deathly Hallows-- but everything moves a lot faster and easier to watch without it.
The Tale of the Three Brothers is animated. This isn't so much a change as something that was added for the sake of the movie, since Hermione reads the story aloud the same way she did in the book. But the animation does a great job of telling the story visually, and in a style even creepier than the real-life stuff we see in the movies. It's a nice little surprise treat near the end of the movie, even for the people with no interest in the fairy tale behind the Deathly Hallows.
Peter Pettigrew doesn't die. In one of the stranger twists to happen at Malfoy Manor, Peter Pettigrew's magical, metal hand turns against him when he hesitates for a moment before killing Harry. While it's strange to have one character death totally unaccounted for by the end of the film, explaining why Pettigrew's own hand kills him would have been way too difficult, especially amid all the tension at Malfoy Manor. Now I really wonder if Pettigrew will somehow show up in the final film, or if he'll just fade away unexplained.