The Harry Potter Lexicon Link to Main page of the Harry Potter Lexicon.

The Lexicon Blog

Six errors in the Harry Potter films that confuse fans

I love the Harry Potter films. I have dear friends who worked on them. I was on the set during the filming of Order of the Phoenix. David Heyman even told me that they used the Lexicon “every day” while they created the films. So don’t mistake what I’m about to say for anything but loving criticism.

The films are nothing more than very expensive fan fiction. They’re made-up stories closely based on the Harry Potter books, created by people who are massive Harry Potter fans and who care very deeply about “getting it right,” but who, for one reason or another, changed a lot of things. Sometimes they changed things for very good reasons. Sometimes, though, they seem to have changed things for no particular reason at all. I can’t explain it, but there you go.

However, for a lot of people, the films are Harry Potter. They’ve never read the books, or barely read them anyway. As far as they’re concerned, Dementors attacked Harry and Dudley in an underpass below a highway. Snape died in a boathouse. And Harry fought Voldemort in an extended, violent duel at the end of the Battle of Hogwarts, punctuated by clever bon mots and death-defying falls from high places.

But oh well. I really don’t care. At least they’re Potter fans! The more the merrier! Just do me a favor … don’t send me any more emails telling me that I screwed up on the Lexicon when I write that:

1 – James was a Chaser. Yes, I realize that in the books James plays with a Snitch. Yes, I realize that the first film shows that weird Quidditch shield which says that James was a Seeker. Seriously, the year on that shield makes no sense and there’s an M. McGonagall on there too! Yeah … no. But Rowling herself said that James was a Chaser. Maybe she misspoke herself, maybe she meant to say Seeker, but she didn’t. She said Chaser. So until she tells us otherwise, that’s what we’re putting in the Lexicon.

2 – Neville went into the Forest for detention in the first book, not Ron. In the book, Ron is in the Hospital Wing when Harry and Hermione take Norbert up to the top of the Astronomy Tower and hand him off to Charlie’s friends. Why Neville then? Because he left Gryffindor Tower that night, trying to stop Harry and Hermione from doing whatever it was they were planning to do, and he got caught.

op21-postkiss-mt3 – Harry Potter and his friends didn’t wear British-style school uniforms to Hogwarts. They wore robes. They wore things like jeans under their robes, sure. But they definitely wore robes. And I’m not talking about capes, either, I’m talking about full-blown robes. With pockets for wands and things. No school ties, no sweaters (except Weasley ones at Christmas), no shirttails hanging out, nothing. Oh, and they wore black pointed hats.

4 – Death Eaters didn’t fly through the air like jets of smoke. According to Rowling, “No spell yet devised enables wizards to fly unaided in human form” (QA1). When Voldemort figured out how to do it in book seven, everyone was completely blown away. And the only person Voldemort taught how to do it was Snape. They’re both dead, so that leaves no one who knows how to fly. It does look cool in the films, though.

5 – It’s pronounced VoldeMORE, not VoldeMORT. Rowling herself said so: “I say ‘Voldemor’ but I’m the only one.” No, you’re not, Jo! Lots of fans say VoldeMORE. Jim Dale  even said VoldeMORE in the audio versions of the first few books. Sadly, after the first film came out with everyone pronouncing it wrong, Jim Dale started saying it wrong too. Looks like they got to him, doesn’t it.

6 – There is no such thing as a Lumos Maxima spell. There’s only Lumos. If there had been some powerful light spell that could generate solar-level beams of light, don’t you think Dumbledore would have used it to look for Barty Crouch Sr. on the grounds in book four? No, he used the same feeble little Lumos spell everyone else uses. Lumos Maxima, like most of the spells in the film, is not canon. So there’s no Bombarda, no Bracchium Emendo, no Fera Verto, and no Immobilus. And Finite Incantatem won’t stop a Bludger. It stops spells … that’s what Finite Incantatem means in Latin. But, as Rowling said when asked about the illogical spells invented by the filmmakers, “That’s showbiz!”

There are more, sure. But those are the ones that seem to generate the most email. What film errors drive you crazy?


This entry was posted in Canon discussion, Rants, The Films. Bookmark the permalink.
  • Nick Moline

    Always thought Lumos Maxima and Lumos Solem were silly.

    I’m not sure I necessarily feel bad about Oculus Reparo though, as we all know Hermoine is the type of person who likes to be super specific on things, I can see her describing the specific thing she was repairing, though I wouldn’t consider it part of the actual spell. Much like Mobilicorpus and Mobiliarbus, it seems silly that most students would be taught specific spells for moving a body and moving a tree, Hermoine and Remus are just the types who would be specific, To the analytical mind, speaking the specific version probably helps focus the mind. I’m sure Hermoine wouldn’t use Wingardium Leviosa (which seems very specific to feathers) to levitate a club.

    Ron on the other hand wouldn’t know better and certainly wouldn’t bother learning lengthy lists of latin nouns, he’s probably be content to use Mobiliarbus to move a body after hearing it previously used to move a tree 9 chapters earlier. Or he would just use Wingardium Leviosa for that too and just push the floating body

    • Steve Vander Ark

      My problem with that is that Hermione, a second year, casts that spell at all. It’s a very powerful spell, when you think about it. Of course, in the books Hermione isn’t the one who casts a repair spell on Harry’s glasses at all. That’s Arthur doing it, and the spell he uses isn’t mentioned. The Reparo spell is introduced in book four, and Hermione uses it to fix some broken glass aboard the Hogwarts Express on their way to Hogwarts. But she only says “Reparo”, not “Poculum Reparo,” (“poculum” being Latin for “glass”).

      • Nick Moline

        Actually worse than what you point out, as in the films she does it before ever going to the school at all (on the train in the “Oh are you doing magic? let’s see then” I guess I always thought of Reparo as a fairly simple spell, all you are doing is taking parts of something that are broken and putting them back together, it’s a super glue spell.

        • JustRuss

          And I always assumed that reparo can be done by anybody, but it will be done faster and better by someone familiar with the object or able to put more magic into it (magic being “smart” enough to figure it out on its own if it has to…much like mobilicorpus/arbus or leviosa)

  • Todd Abbott

    I noticed the discrepancies in Jim Dale’s Voldemort pronunciation and actually had wondered in the name was different in the English versions. I did notice a few of his voices changed to sound more like the voices of the actors in the movie. I noticed the other things too, but I expected those. I was willing to accept many of the changes until the 4th movie, though the 3rd had some parts that disappointed me. It bothered me when they took out tons of sub-plots… especially when some were build-ups to something more important in later books (like Bill and Fleur or Weasley’s joke shop creations). It was depressing enough when Rowling ended the series with so many unfinished sub-plots and loose ends (and I do not count non canon stuff…. if it ain’t in the book it is not in the story). I have watched the movies (and own them all in Blu-ray along with the books in hardcover, softcover, and Jim Dales audiobooks…), but I just think of them as a completely unrelated series and think of the 4th through 6th movie as a bad dream. Come on. The 4th movie condensed the first 250 pages into 15 minutes, but then wasted something like 15 minutes in special effects on a big dragon chase that never happened.

    There were certain scenes that almost made me walk out of the theater they bugged me so much. Top of that list was when Harry was supposed to be under tight security for his protection he is seen flirting with a waitress in a Muggle coffee shop in a subway station… The second was when Death Eaters showed up and burned down The Burrow at Christmas when Bill and Fleur’s wedding was supposed to be there that summer… especially when the seen with Scrimgeour would have been much better. Besides it would have been 30 Death Eaters and Voldemort if they could have found the house.

    Overall I rate the movies lower though because of the whole way they portrayed the Wizarding World. They made everything dark and depressing. They took away all the color and fun. They made Little Whinging a square little isolated thing with a Highway and an isolated park out in the middle of nowhere. They made Hogsmeade a boring square of tightly packed 2-3 story buildings, not cottages with gardens as you got farther out of town. All the clothing was dark, Diagon Alley was like Knockturn Alley. It was supposed to be bright and colorful and full of character. Diagon Alley was supposed to be a winding road with shops with colorful signs in the windows, displays on tables out front, tables with umbrellas for eating, the smell of food, everybody in their robes of all styles and colors (and a mix of horribly mismatched Muggle clothing), Carts selling candy and food and charms. I imagine maybe even music and street performers. Not every day is dark and overcast. They made Hermione too good looking, and too uptight and intense all the time and Ginny was no where near as attractive as she should have been. This I think is why Rowling said she should have had Harry fall in love with Ginny, but the way it is in the books is perfect.

  • ColdCountry

    I always assumed that Finite Incantatem stopped the Bludger because it broke the spell that had been put on it.
    Hermione casting spells on the Hogwarts Express didn’t make sense to me because they weren’t supposed to use magic outside of school. Or is the train considered a part of school?
    I admit, I sometimes have a hard time remembering if something is book or movie – or both. But that’s what we have the Lexicon for, thankfully!

    • Steve Vander Ark

      The Finite Incantatem spell was used in the books, but in a totally different context. Snape used it to stop all the out-of-control spells being cast by students during the first Duelling Club meeting.

      Really, the key problem for me is that while Hermione in the books develops her magical ability logically, in the films, they skip all that and just have her cast extremely advanced and powerful spells willy-nilly as if to say “See? She’s really talented! Wow!”

      Here’s another example: the pixie scene:
      Book version: “He just wants to give us some hands-on experience,” said Hermione, immobilizing two pixies at once with a clever Freezing Charm and stuffing them back into their cage.
      Film version: “Immobilus!” and the entire flock of pixies freezes in midair.

  • Joe Cutroni

    One that stands out that drives me crazy is Luna finding Harry in the traincar and not Tonks in the film…for the mere fact that it’s just one of those “why change it” things. The other is how quickly they covered the Quiddich World Cup at the beginning of Goblet of Fire in the movie…the book had such wonderful detail and was so looking forward to seeing an animated Victor Krug in Ron’s hands…BOOOO!

  • guest

    I could write a book on all the things the films got wrong. Pretty much everything after CoS was terrible. Films were made too soon and should have been a TV series instead.

Harry Potter Lexicon logoAbout Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Copyright | ©2000 - 2015 The Harry Potter Lexicon.
HARRY POTTER, characters, names, and all related indicia are trademarks of Warner Bros. ©2001-2015.

Page layout by Lisa Waite Bunker and Steve Vander Ark, banner graphics by Camilla Engelby © 2007.

Primary editor: Steve Vander Ark
Original photograph © Steve Vander Ark
Original page date 9 June 2011; Last page update 14 June 2011 SVA