When I was little, I was introduced to Harry Potter through the movies. My mom always loved fantasy movies with magic, and so my parents let me watch the movies with them as I grew up. Let’s just say I’ve been Hermoine Granger for Halloween a good four times. I always watch the movies annually when I’m sick or feeling sad. My best friend back home, however, still teases me for being a fake fan since I’ve never read the books. After watching the movies for so many years, I just never really saw the need to read something that would be completely different from what I had been brought up with. Nevertheless, I have been wanting to get out of my reading slump for a while now, so I picked up Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — the only Harry Potter book that somehow ended up in our house.
I actually really enjoyed the experience of watching the movies and then reading the books, to which I know many die-hard book lovers will probably gasp at me for saying. For me, reading the book gave me more context to the content of the film. For example, the mystery of why Flinch’s cat was the first victim of the heir of Slytherin never really caught my attention until my roommate asked me when we were watching the Chamber of Secrets. In the book, however, we learn that Flinch is a “Squib,” a term I had never heard watching the films, which refers to a wizard-born muggle. Because of his less “pure blood” magical capabilities, Voldemort used Mrs. Norris as a threat to Flinch and all other non “pure blood” inhabitants of Hogwarts. Those intriguing details weren’t mentioned in the film, but their exclusion doesn’t necessarily limit the film itself. The book, in my experience, added more depth to the film’s already intricate plot and themes.
Another detail I noticed was that certain lines from the book are given to different characters. Most of the lines from the film are taken right out of the book, which I really appreciated as an artistic choice from the adaptors. Personally, I felt that the screenwriters’ switching of lines actually made more sense and gave certain characters the charm (pun intended) that we’ve grown so fond of from the films. For example, there is one line towards the beginning of the book when Ron and Harry arrive in Mr. Weasley’s car and Professor McGonagall, Snape, and Dumbeldore are determining what to do with them. In the book, Dumbledore says, “I will be writing to both of your families tonight. I must warn you that if you do anything like this again, I will have no choice but to expel you” (pg 81 in case you’re curious). In my opinion, this makes Dumbledore appear a bit more stern than I’m accustomed to. I had always viewed Dumbledore as a fair and wise headmaster, but I read this quote with a bit more of a strict tone than in the films. In the Chamber of Secrets movie, Professor McGonagall says this line instead. I have always seen McGonagall as a kind but stern professor and feel that the line belongs more to her than Dumbledore. However, that is just the opinion of a Harry Potter film fan.
I’ve loved the experience of reading Chamber of Secrets and comparing it to the film. Reading this has honestly gotten me out of my slump and made me want to read the entire series (maybe then I’ll finally be considered a true fan).