Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 modifies Peter Pettigrew’s death to make it less spooky – but loses part of the story in the process.
The death of Peter Pettigrew in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 was different from the book; here’s why the seventh film changed the scene of JK Rowling’s novel. Deathly Hallows, Part 1 covers roughly two-thirds of the content of the final novel, starting with Harry’s exit from Privet Drive and ending with the death of Dobby the House Elf following a near-captive escape at Malfoy Manor. Shortly before Dobby’s demise, however, another important character left history for good: Peter Pettigrew, aka Wormtail.
In the book as in the film, the preparation for Pettigrew’s death is the same: Harry, Ron and a few other allies were trapped in the Malfoy cellar when Harry decides to use the remaining fragment of a magic mirror (given to Harry by his late godfather, Sirius Black) to call for help. Help came in the form of Dobby, who helped the gang form a plan to escape the basement and save Hermione, who was being tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange.
The differences between the book and the movie come after Dobby racked up a racket that prompted Lestrange to send Pettigrew to the cellar to check on the captives. In the film, Pettigrew’s death is largely played out to comedic relief as Pettigrew walks into the basement and is hit by a Dobby spell from behind, muttering a soft “ow” as he falls face-first. This makes it almost ambiguous as to whether or not Pettigrew dies, except the character never appears in the movies after the fall. In the book, Pettigrew goes to suffocate Harry but hesitates – which the Enchanted Hand (gave him by Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) – interprets as a weakness. The enchanted hand then turned on Pettigrew and strangled him to death. Pettigrew’s book death was deemed too frightening for young moviegoers, leading to the version seen in the seventh Harry potter movie.
While the film producers may have tried to protect young viewers, they have done the story arc a disservice for Harry and Wormtail. The moment has settled in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, when Harry chose to prevent Sirius Black from killing Pettigrew and allowing him to live. It also allowed Pettigrew to escape and return to Voldemort. In the book Deathly HallowsHarry reminded Pettigrew of the lifetime debt he owed Harry, causing reluctance. The Magical Hand, having been created by Voldemort, may have even recognized that having a servant in a lifetime debt to Voldemort’s worst enemy was dangerous, and so that eliminated the threat – ironically saving Harry’s life in the process.
Even apart from the violence of this death which might frighten young viewers, the filmmakers may have felt they were asking too much of the audience to remember the mercy Harry showed Pettigrew in the third film. . They might also be afraid of alienating members of the audience who hadn’t read the books, although the films also showed Harry’s mercy towards Pettigrew. By changing Pettigrew’s death to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, the filmmakers played down JK Rowling’s attention to detail in his writing shown by this turn of events and also lost an opportunity to show how Harry’s ability to do the right thing paid off later in life. .
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