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It took seven books for J.K. Rowling to tell the story of Harry Potter. Unfortunately, even with with eight films, the movie franchise wasn't always able to truly showcase the connections between the many characters in J.K. Rowling's magical universe. With Harry Potter on the brain this week -- Happy 20th Anniversary, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone! -- we're compelled flash back to one particular lost moment from the films, which was included among the DVD bonus content. Below is a clip that was cut from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1, which gives us a rare look at the softer side of Petunia Dursley...
Hat tip to Mugglenet for the reminder that this scene existed.
At this point in the story, the Dursleys are abandoning Privet Drive. It's no longer safe for them to stay there, with Voldemort and Death Eaters eagerly targeting Harry, and more than happy to take their rage out on his muggle family members. When Harry sees some reluctance to leave from his Aunt Petunia, he reminds her of the impending threat. And she reminds him that she knows all too well what they're facing. She did, after all, lose her sister.
You didn't just lose a mother in Godric's Hollow that night, you know. I lost a sister.
Is that remorse in Petunia's eyes? Grief, for certain. It's arguably one of Fiona Shaw's best moments as Petunia Dursley, and unfortunately, this clip was cut from the final film. In fact, the Dursleys' departure from Privet Drive is reduced to a quick driveway scene, with Harry looking on from his window, and Petunia later seen staring sadly ahead from the seat of the family car. There's no real indication from the scene as to why she's upset, other than the assumption that she's not happy about having to leave.
In fairness, the deleted scene above wasn't actually taken from the book. But the novel does include a very brief exchange between Harry and Aunt Petunia that could've been summed up nicely with the above clip. In Harry Potter of the Deathly Hallows, the Dursleys' departure is understandably awkward. Uncle Vernon is on the fence about leaving, but once he's convinced the threat against them is real, he just wants to GTFO, without offering much of a goodbye to Harry. Dudley is confused, and uncharacteristically sad to be leaving Harry behind, despite the tense relationship he's always shared with his cousin. And Petunia is mostly too busy being overwhelmed by Dudley's tentative show of affection for Harry to really address the full situation. But she does pause on her way out the door, and there's a moment where we're led to believe that maybe she feels sad about leaving her nephew -- her last living connection to her sister -- behind.
I wanted to suggest, in the final book, that something decent (a long-forgotten but dimly burning love of her sister; the realisation that she might never see Lily's eyes again) almost struggled out of Aunt Petunia when she said goodbye to Harry for the last time, but that she is not able to admit to it, or show those long-buried feelings.
J.K. Rowling wanted to keep true to Petunia's character, so these feelings weren't actually verbalized in the book, but the moment -- and the intention behind it -- was there.
Film adaptations are always going to trim a lot to fit a novel into the space of a movie -- or two movies in this case -- but as a hardcore fan of the books, I often wished the movies would take a bit more time to celebrate what these characters mean to each other in the smaller moments.
While this scene was cut from Deathly Hallows Part 1, on the bright side, it exists in movie-bonus-content canon. And it's a great lost moment for Harry Potter fans to appreciate.