The XX Factor

Is “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” As Fiercely Feminist As the Book?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows : Part 1 , is just as dark as the book on which it is based, and hews more closely to the source material than previous movies have. In the seventh book, Rowling gives readers some of the most feminist moments in the entire series, so I was curious to see whether or not those moments would make it off the page and onto the screen.

At the start of the movie, we see Hermione, the brave and brainy heroine whose smarts so often get fellow wizards Harry and Ron out of trouble, modify her parents’ memories. She removes all trace of her existence from their minds and from their home, in order to protect them from the dark forces that are now hunting her. In the book, Hermione merely tells Harry that she has done this. In the movie, we see her do it, then watch her leave her home and walk bravely away to join Harry and Ron on their dangerous mission. With this small addition, and the image of Hermione walking alone down a deserted suburban street, the audience is reminded that Hermione isn’t just clever-she’s courageous, too.

While it was inevitable that certain subplots would be excluded from the screenplay, the removal of Victor Krum, Bulgarian Quidditch player and Hermione’s one-time love interest, changes the depiction Ron and Hermione’s blossoming romance. In the book, Krum’s brief return reminds Ron that Hermione, smart and beautiful as she is, is a highly desirable young woman. In the movie, there’s no Krum, and no competition for Hermione’s affections. Happily, Ron makes it clearer in the movie than he ever does in the book that Hermione’s brains are truly why he admires her so much. When Harry suggests leaving without Hermione, Ron replies, “Are you mad? We wouldn’t last two days without her.”

Then, there’s the role of sex in this movie. In what is undoubtedly the most overtly sexual scene to appear on either page or screen, Harry and Hermione-well, evil enchanted visions of them-share a fierce kiss, naked from the waist up. This is hardly concerning, but what is disappointing is the way that the kiss between Harry and Ginny, his true love interest, has been altered so as to remove Ginny’s agency. In the book, Ginny, who has dated around and has refused to be shamed for it, kisses Harry, to his surprise. In the movie, it’s mutual, removing some of that unabashed sexuality for which we love Ginny.

As for Mrs. Weasley, Ron and Ginny’s kindly housewife mother who reveals herself to be a fierce fighter, her best line, hurled, to everyone’s surprise, in the heat of the final battle-“Not my daughter, you bitch!”-occurs at the end of the book. Let’s hope they have the sense not to leave it on the cutting room floor.

Read Dana Stevens’ Slate review of Deathly Hallows here.

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 by Warner Bros.