PART TWO SCENES AND CHARACTERS
To follow our list of Harry Potter movie rankings
we offer this, a list of our favorite scenes and character moments, as
well as our discussion on both actors who portrayed Dumbledore in the
series. It's all just geeky, good fun, but need we add - WARNING:
SPOILERS! - John
Larrabee, John V. Brennan
JOHN L'S TOP 3
-Voldemort's resurrection in GOBLET OF FIRE
-The Sorting Hat scene in SORCERER'S STONE
-The quiddich World Cup in GOBLET OF FIRE
JOHN B'S TOP 3
- Harry meets Ron and Hermione on the Hogwarts Express in SORCERER'S
STONE. It could not be more perfect in establishing the
amongst the three characters, and damn, were those kids cute or what?
- The Tale of the Three Brothers in DEATHLY HALLOWS PT 1
- Snape's class ("Turn to page 394") in PRISONER OF AZKABAN
"Moe, Larry... the cheese!"
"Now, let me tell you a funny story about this wand and my eye!"
FAVORITE DEFENSE AGAINST THE DARK ARTS PROFESSOR
JOHN L: Mad Eye Moody, hands down. Second place: Gilderoy
(nothing like watching a ham like Kenneth Branagh given free reign to
be a ham).
JOHN B: Remus Lupin, possibly the only one who wasn't a
character. Second place: Mad Eye Moody. Brendon
plays the part as if "subtlety" and "nuance" are just filler
words in the dictionary. Honorable mention: Dolores Umbridge. Oh, and Gilderoy Lockhart.
BEST SNAPE SCENE
JOHN L: The death scene from DEATHLY HALLOWS 2, if only
the most emotionally powerful. Other than that, any scene with Snape is
the best Snape scene.
JOHN B: Since I already named
the "Page 394" scene, I'll choose another favorite - Harry meets Snape,
SORCERER'S STONE. "Harry Potter, our neeew cel-e--brity...".
Viciously picking on an 11-year-old on his first day of class.
"This is not going to end well
for me, is it, Dark Lord?
Who knew the Apex Technical School was so beautiful?
BEST HARRY SCENE
JOHN L: Although the Potter series would demand more of Daniel
acting chops than looking at a green screen in wide-eyed awe, Harry's
first moments at Hogwarts in SORCERER'S STONE is nonetheless a scene
Walt Disney himself would have applauded.
JOHN B: Any time I see Harry trying to get that dragon egg in GOBLET OF
FIRE, I forget about any reservations and criticisms I have about the
rest of the film.
Once again, a well-thought out, meticulously planned Hogwarts activity goes horribly wrong.
Lesson: Never buy tuxedos at Herman's Hermits Tuxedo Hut
BEST RON SCENE
JOHN L: A very tough call. Much as I think the series was
perfectly cast all around, Rupert Grint might have been just a little
extra perfect. And although Daniel Radcliffe will forever be Harry in
my mind, I have to reluctantly admit that there might be other young
actors who could have made fine Boys Who Lived as well. But nobody,
nodamnbody, dare touch the role of Ron Weasley but Rupert Grint. He's
brilliant in every film, growing as both character and actor in the
process. I'll just choose the first scene that comes to mind: the first
sight of Ron in the '70s lounge-lizard tux in GOBLET, if only because
it was a slight improvement over my own prom tux back in the day.
JOHN B: Agreed about Rupert
Grint. My constant complaint
Grint has nothing to do with him, but with the scripts, which often
downplayed Ron's importance compared to Harry and Hermione, and used
him almost exclusively for comic relief. Of course, as comic relief, he
excellent, because the kid was a natural comedian. Still,
as Ron had so many great moments, but my favorite probably
from SORCERER'S STONE, when he gives his speech to Harry about how he
(Ron) and Hermione don't matter - it's Harry who needs to survive.
Gotta love a kid who's willing to die - and calmly accept
possible death of his other best friend - so that his true best friend
will go on.
Honorable mentions - his extremely awkward dance lesson with Professor
McGonagall in GOBLET OF FIRE, and his falling under a love potion spell
in HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. I really hope Rupert Grint gets a
long-running British sitcom one of these days. He's just flat out
No caption, just Ron.
Love is Never Having To Say
BEST HERMIONE SCENE
JOHN L: Still the all-time classic: Ron and Hermione's first
fight: Leviosa! (SORCERER'S STONE)
JOHN B: PRISONER OF AZKABAN
when she corners Draco Malfoy ("You foul, loathsome, evil little
cockroach!") and punches him in the nose, a great, long-awaited payoff to the previous film CHAMBER OF
SECRETS where he called her
a filthy mudblood, wished her dead and other stuff like that there.
mention: Her heartbreak over Ron being with another girl in HALF-BLOOD PRINCE.
Top 3 Favorite Major Characters Not Named
Harry, Ron or
Snape, Snape, and more Snape
"I'm hairy, Potter!"
Top 3 Favorite Minor Characters
Dudley "Dudders" Dursley
- Richard Harris or Michael Gambon
JOHN L for Ricard Harris:
Ah, the Kirk vs. Picard debate of the Potter series. I'm among
those who prefers Richard Harris' portrayal in the first two films, but
I have to admit that Michael Gambon has, film-by-film, risen to level
of acceptability. I'll even grant that he projected just the right
amount of calm wisdom in his last few appearances (such as his cameo in
DH2, where he is especially moving). But I still prefer Harris.
Harris had the advantage of immediate credibility in the
his voice, features, and demeanor fit the "wizened old wizard"
stereotype, yet his portrayal seemed so effortless and natural, he came
off as more archetype than stereotype. Plus, and perhaps most
importantly, he conveyed the grandfatherly kindness of Rowling's
Dumbledore, all the while never letting us forget that he was capable
of grandfatherly sternness as well. Harris' Dumbledore was a delight, a
term seldom applied to Gambon's portrayal.
Some have wondered if Harris would have been up to the
physical demands of the role as the series progressed. It might have
taken some effort for his version of Dumbledore to muster the necessary
strength and stamina for the trial scene in GOBLET, but Harris would
have been fine with it. Many will recall Harris' memorable appearance
with Conan O'Brien after the release of SORCERER'S STONE, during which
he floored the studio audience with tales of his juvenile delinquency
with fellow inebriates Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole. Strong-voiced,
robust, and quick-witted, Harris was the very image of septuagenarian
vitality. His portrayal of Dumbledore is whatcha call acting, folks.
"Who's this old grump?" was my reaction to Gambon upon his
in PRISONER OF AZKABAN. Actually, I was familiar with Gambon in
pre-Potter roles -- mostly heavies and scary psychopaths -- and thought
an actor who specialized in cold-blooded misfits was an odd choice for
wise old Albus D. And I'm far from the first to grouse that Gambon
lacks the innate kindly-old-mentor quality that Harris projected
without trying. Would that Harris' presence and aged-honey voice could
have enhanced some of the later Dumbledore-Harry scenes.
But I've come to appreciate Gambon's strengths, not the least
which is the sense of dread he brings to the role. His is a Dumbledore
deeply aware of the magnitude of the festering evil, and we'll never
know if Harris would have conveyed the same with such weight. I'll give
Gambon great credit for intensifying the darker tone of the later films
-- no small task given the competition from all things living and
green-screened. In addition, though one may have to dig beneath the
layers of sternness to find his love and concern for Harry, it's there
and all the deeper for it.
Gambon's earned my respect, so it's not as if he's Roger
Harris' Sean Connery or anything. But, owing to his effortless
embodiment of the role, and a bit to his star-quality credibility,
Richard Harris will always represent the "classic model" Dumbledore for
JOHN B for Michael Gambon:
Richard Harris was wonderful as Dumbledore in the first two
films, even if most of what he did was stand (or sit) there and speak
profundities. It was truly a shame that the man passed away,
making Warner Brothers scramble for a replacement actor for a
major part for the first and only time in the series. According
to IMDB, Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen (Gandolph in the LORD OF THE
RING series) were in the running, while Peter O'Toole and Sir Richard
Attenborough were also possibilities. They settled on Michael Gambon, and I believe in the
end it was an excellent decision.
His first two turns at
Dumbledore were a mixed bag. While I enjoy some of what he did in THE
PRISONER OF AZKABAN, adding a bit of an off-kilter comic touch to the role, (the
Time-Turner scene contains some of my favorite Gambon as Dumbledore
moments), I have problems with much of his performance in THE GOBLET OF
FIRE. He's too aggressive for me, with his grabbing and
pushing Harry at one point, booming "SILENCE!!!!" in two different
scenes, and other such moments. One can imagine Richard Harris's
Dumbledore just lifting his hand or calmly shooting stars from his wand
to get people to shut up and pay attention. Gambon didn't seem to
have any grasp of what the character was about in some scenes, which
may not be surprising when you consider he admitted to not reading the
books. (You can imagine how much hardcore fans hated him for that
But in ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, Gambon was suddenly more than fine in the part. As I have said
elsewhere in this section, I believe director David Yates was the key.
I think it is too coincidental that when Yates came on board to
direct what turned out to be the rest of the series, both Michael
Gambon as Dumbledore and Emma Watson as Hermione both suddenly began
giving much quieter, fuller performances as their respective
characters and by the next film, HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, were giving their
best performances of the series. (ORDER OF THE PHOENIX also
contains my favorite performance by Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, and
HALF-BLOOD PRINCE my favorite performances by Rupert Grint as Ron and Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, so there's more
anecdotal evidence for the influence of Yates). When Gambon was
yelling and pushing in GOBLET OF FIRE, he never captivated me.
Yet, the moment when he enters the courtroom in ORDER OF THE
PHOENIX and announces his name as a witness for Harry's defense -
"Albus Percival Wulfric --- Brian
Dumbledore" - he owns the room. It's notable that in the trailer
for PHOENIX, Dumbledore's line "The evidence that the Dark Lord has
returned" is shouted by Gambon, while the more effective take, with
Gambon softly speaking the line with sadness and compassion, is in the
finished film. Perhaps Yates let Gambon get all his loud takes out of the way, and then chose the softer ones.
Gambon's Dumbledore is much more flawed and
than Harris's, making some wrongheaded decisions out of emotion rather
than logic. While this is only natural, as the filmmakers were
merely following the storylines of the books, Gambon should be given
much credit for pulling it off splendidly. His emotional range
is astonishing, as can be seen all during HALF-BLOOD PRINCE.
Think of the scene where he is just lightly shooting the breeze
with Harry in
his office near the beginning of the film and compare it to the much
later scene where he is
begging Harry to kill him while they are attempting to retrieve another
horcrux. He was no longer the comic book character of AZKABAN or
GOBLET; he was every bit as good a Dumbledore as Richard Harris.
Both men had their strengths - Harris's was a
reserved, lovable Dumbledore while Gambon's was a man of action and
movement. Although it would only amount to waving a wand in front
of a green screen, I can't imagine Harris conjuring the massive
swirling flames in HALF-BLOOD PRINCE or battling Voldemort wand to wand
at the end of PHOENIX with the same energy and panache as Gambon.
And also in HALF-BLOOD PRINCE, when he mentions that the waitress
Harry was flirting with (and could have gone out with had Dumbledore
not interfered) was very pretty, or basically asking him "What's up
with you and Hermione?" in that little bull session in his office,
Gambon completely captured the love and affection Dumbledore had for
Harry. I can't say Gambon was better than Harris, but I won't say
Harris was better than Gambon. They each approached the role
differently, and I enjoy each actor's interpretation.
Michael Gambon took a lot of heat for his portrayal
of Dumbledore from fans (and I have a feeling he didn't give a
hoot one way or the other), but I think many fans - my friend John L excepted, from
what he wrote above - never forgave him for the missteps of his first
two films. I more strongly suspect they could never forgive him
for not being Richard Harris.
Harry Potter The Lists of Doom Part 1
The Secret Vortex