Evacuating the Castle

Apparently, I have a lot of thoughts about the Battle of Hogwarts. Specifically, the movie version. I actually really like the Deathly Hallows Part II movie, but there are a few things about it – most of them very minor – that get on my nerves.

Yesterday, I wrote about the horde of a thousand Death Eaters, and I’m sure there will be a post coming soon about the weird way Voldemort’s body dissolves when he dies. But one of the things that bothers me the most is that no one attempts to evacuate the castle.

In the book, Professor McGonagall’s first thought upon realizing they’re going to fight Voldemort at Hogwarts is that they have to evacuate the students. She and the other Heads of House agree that anyone under seventeen must leave the castle before Voldemort attacks, although the oldest students will be allowed to stay and fight if they choose to. There’s a whole scene in the book where the students gather in the Great Hall and McGonagall explains everything that’s going on. The movie does things a little differently, but it wouldn’t have been hard to have evacuation brought up and Harry suggest the secret passageway to Hogsmeade.

Instead, what happens is this: after Voldemort’s ultimatum, Professor McGonagall sends the Slytherins to the dungeons, and the rest of the students are left to fend for themselves, even the first and second years who can barely make sparks fly out of their wands. Aside from how hard it is to believe that none of the Hogwarts teachers thought about trying to get their students to safety, and the horror of realizing many of them likely didn’t survive the battle, this takes away their choice as well.

It takes away from the fact that so many of the seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds did stay to fight. It takes away from the fact that younger students, like Ginny and Colin, refused to be told they had to leave and fought in the battle anyway. I wouldn’t say it negates the heroism of those who fought, but it makes their actions more about survival than a conscious decision to do what was right.

It also takes away the choice from the students who left. Those who had not been part of the DA and knew they would be no good in a fight. Those who left to make sure a younger sibling got safely home. Those who left to return with reinforcements. Those who were just plain scared and decided the battle could be won or lost without them. Those who were loyal to the other side. The fact that so many left – all the Slytherins, and some of the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs – adds realism to the story and makes those who stayed seem all the more noble for doing so.

For that matter, it takes away the possibility of help from the outside. In the book, Professor Slughorn returns near the end of the battle with a large group of reinforcements to help defend the castle. In the movie, this couldn’t possibly happen, because no one left the castle. The villagers in Hogsmeade might have seen that something was happening, but they wouldn’t have known what they could do or why they should. The families of the students who stayed to fight would have had no idea that a battle was even happening. Someone had to find them and ask for their help, and if no one left the castle, that’s impossible. The reinforcements are more than just numbers to help them win the battle. I see them as a sign that Hogwarts is not alone. The teachers, Dumbledore’s Army, the Order of the Phoenix, the few who are there when the battle starts and who have been fighting all along, are not making their final stand on their own, and there are many others out there who step up when the time comes. This kind of wider support for the heroes is in direct contrast with the movie, where they truly are on their own and up against massive numbers under Voldemort’s command.

It takes away the Slytherin students’ choice as well. In the book, many went straight to Voldemort, while a few went with Professor Slughorn and then returned to help win the battle. Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle snuck back into the castle and tried to capture Harry themselves, which didn’t go all that well for them. In the movie, there are no such choices. No one has a chance to leave the castle.

That means it also takes away from the Malfoy parents’ dilemma. In the book, when other Slytherin students start showing up to join the Death Eaters and Draco doesn’t, they have no idea what happened to him. Voldemort seems to suspect disloyalty and makes it clear that he doesn’t care if Draco lives or dies. There’s a battle going on, and they don’t know which side he’s on or whether he’s even still alive. His father begs Voldemort to call off the battle, and when that fails, his mother lies to Voldemort, telling him Harry Potter is dead, in an attempt to end the battle and find Draco. In the movie, though, Snape is the one person from Hogwarts who went to Voldemort at the start of the battle. The students are all still in the castle. Draco’s parents have no reason to suspect that anything unusual happened to him, or that he’s in any more danger than the other Slytherins.

The Harry Potter books are so tightly-woven that even a small change makes a big difference.

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Thoughts on the Crimes of Grindelwald Trailer

One of the first things I noticed watching the new Crimes of Grindelwald trailer was how heavily Hogwarts and Dumbledore feature into it. The very first shots show the familiar castle from  distance, before going inside and introducing the younger Dumbledore. But even aside from the little glimpses of the school and future headmaster, traces of their presence appear throughout the trailer. For instance:

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The Deluminator: this one was hard to get a screencap of, but the Deluminator was one-of-a-kind, invented by Dumbledore himself. It only occasionally appears in the Harry Potter books, up until Deathly Hallows, when it’s revealed that he left it to Ron in his will and that its powers go considerably beyond simply turning off the lights. Its first appearance, however, is in the very first chapter of Sorcerer’s Stone, when Dumbledore arrives at Privet Drive to drop off baby Harry. The scene in the trailer is highly reminiscent of the Sorcerer’s Stone movie, complete with lantern-shaped streetlights.

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Thestrals: these skeletal flying horses are creepy, but they turn out to be gentle creatures. The Ministry of Magic gives them a XXXX rating, meaning that they are dangerous and should only be approached by an expert. However, Hogwarts has a herd of tamed thestrals that live in the Forbidden Forest and pull the school’s carriages. It’s highly likely that whoever is riding in that carriage got it – and the thestrals – from Hogwarts.

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This brief glance at Dumbledore and Newt caught my attention because it reminded me a little bit of this:

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The similarities are obvious. Both pairs have a sort of mentor/student relationship: Dumbledore was Newt’s teacher at Hogwarts and “Graves” presented himself as a mentor and protector for Credence. Their voices are soft, whispering, and what they are talking about is private. Grindelwald is asking Credence to find the obscurial, and Dumbledore is asking Newt to fight Grindelwald for him. They even show similar body language: standing close together, heads tilted toward each other, as if sharing a secret. But there’s one huge difference: Newt and Dumbledore are looking each other in the eye. That changes the whole dynamic. Not that Dumbledore was ever 100% open with anyone about everything he knew, but the shot of him with Newt implies a level of trust and respect for each other that is not present with Grindelwald and Credence.

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Finally, there’s this. The sign of the Deathly Hallows. The obvious link here is with Grindelwald, but remember, Dumbledore was after the Hallows, too. However, aside from the wand, none of the Deathly Hallows should come into play at this point in the timeline. Only the Potters know about the cloak, while the ring is passed down from the Peverells to the Gaunts. Dumbledore does not find them until many years later, as an old man, and Grindelwald never achieves his goal of uniting the Hallows.

Hogwarts Halloween

Pumpkins grinning jagged grins
Glowing in the night
Ghostly figures swooping down
Bathed in eerie light
Tables loaded down with sweets
Leaping chocolate frogs
Fireplace bringing warmth and light
With its burning logs
Children with the strangest pets
Owls, cats, and toads
Waving wands and casting spells
In their long black robes
Broomsticks fly and cauldrons boil
Potions brew inside
Children eat enchanted sweets
While trolls sneak inside
Spooky creatures, ghosts, and ghouls
Laughs and shrieks of fear
Hogwarts students celebrate
This haunted time of year

Why Muggle Studies Should Be Compulsory at Hogwarts

  1. Because most wizards don’t have a clue how to interact with the muggle world. Even those, like the Weasleys, who are not prejudiced and do not see muggles as their inferiors, still do not understand the muggle world. Mr. Weasley, whose job involves working with “muggle artifacts”, does not know how to use a telephone and asks Harry about the function of a rubber duck. Other wizards show no understanding of muggle clothing, dressing themselves in unique costumes such as a kilt and a poncho, a flowery nightgown, or a frock coat over a swimsuit. If wizards are required by law to keep their existence secret from muggles, and yet sometimes need to interact with the muggle world, it only makes sense that they should learn enough about that world to be able to blend into it.
  2. Because the wizarding world is behind the times. That’s true on many different levels, but let’s talk about the most obvious, practical one. Can you imagine the shock of a muggle-born student arriving at Hogwarts and realizing they’re expected to write with a feather quill and inkwell? That might seem exciting at first, but paper and pen – or better yet, word processing software – would grow more and more appealing after late nights doing homework. Yes, I know that magic and muggle technology don’t mix, but Hogwarts has indoor plumbing, and the Weasleys have a radio. Those were both new inventions at one point, and have clearly been adapted to work with magic. I bet, if there was more awareness of the muggle world, someone would figure out magical equivalents to computers, internet, airplanes, and all kinds of other things that the wizarding world seems to be without. But with very few kids gaining any exposure to the muggle world, the wizarding world seems to have stagnated.
  3. Because there are other things wizards can learn from the muggle world, besides the joys of modern technology. Specifically, our history. They could learn that prejudice and discrimination are never acceptable. They could learn that putting the wrong person in power can lead to disaster. They could learn that those who seek to control people usually begin by limiting their knowledge, and so people like Umbridge must be opposed. Those are things that sadly are still problems in our world, and lessons that we can learn from the Harry Potter books; within the stories, they are lessons the wizarding world could learn from studying muggle history as well as their own.
  4. Because despite the International Statute of Secrecy, the muggle and magical worlds do overlap. Muggle-borns find out they are wizards at age 11 and become part of the wizarding world, also bringing their families into that world to some extent. Witches and wizards fall in love with and marry muggles. Children from wizarding families do not always have magical powers. Many witches and wizards do have to exist between the two worlds in one way or another.
  5. Most importantly, because ignorance breeds intolerance and understanding makes peace a more realistic goal. Would Voldemort have been able to get the support he did if he had not been able to draw on an existing hatred (and fear) of muggles and muggle-borns? Would that sentiment have been as strong as it was if all magical children were taught about the muggle world and taught to respect it? Perhaps the reverse is also true, and the magical world will not allow their children to be taught about telephones and electricity until they have gained more respect for those without magic. It’s hard to say, but I feel sure that the series’ villains’  intolerance of all things muggle goes hand in hand with their ignorance.

We’re Ready

Can’t believe we’ve come this far
Eight years
It should have been seven, but
Life happens
Sometimes you can’t help it
Exams are passed
Trunks are packed
The old school train is ready
To take us back
One last time

Our scarves around our necks
House colors proudly displayed
Red, green, blue, yellow
The traits we value
The choices we’ve made
The family we’ve found in this castle

This time last year, chaos
The ruins of a battle
That built up over the years
Like a shaken bottle of soda
Or a potion grown stronger with age
There was no ceremony
No exam
In the aftermath, it would have seemed silly
But life goes on
And here we are

Most years, they say graduation
Means finally joining the real world
But the real world came for us early
What is graduation?
A slip of paper
A formality
We’ve already fought for our lives
Chosen
Who we are
What we stand for
It’s that night that defined us
Not the shell-shocked year that followed

Thestrals pull the carriages
We all can see them now
But they don’t scare me

We’ve endured
Through danger and chaos and wrong
We’ve made choices
No child should face
And chosen the right thing anyway
We’ve survived
Like a phoenix, we’ve risen to fight
Again and again
Whatever life brings
We’re ready