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06 December 2007 @ 11:00 am
PoA Film Marauders Explanation, Explained  
One of the biggest gripes amongst HP fans is that a great narrative detail of PoA the book was omitted from the PoA film: The explanation of the Maurauders and their relationship.  Now granted this ommission sort of shock to me as well. What would have easily been a half an hour backstory of Lupin's school days with James, Sirius and Peter was condensed into about 10 minutes, even less if you don't consider the confrontation post Pettigrew transformation. However I never am one to ever think that films are merely a visual copy of a particular novel, but instead a work that has it's own hints, logic and ideas. It always sort of amazes me how so many fans here could be so bright and fervent in producing various theories and plots (many of them very plausible) that they shut off their analytical brains when it comes to the films. Basically the explanation of the Mauauder's is there, but hidden under nuance and dual serving scenes and lines in the film. This post is basically to show how much the film reflects the book...more than you might imagine.

PoA DVD Chapter 12: Talent for Trouble

This scene deals with Harry talking with Lupin on the bridge of Hogwarts in the film. It basically borrows from the other person to person chats that Harry has with Lupin in Chp 8: Flight of the Fat Lady and Chp 10: The Marauder's Map. The main change that helps greatly with explaining the Marauders' relationship (especially their close knit friendship) is that instead of showing any hint of friendship between James and Lupin until Chapter 12: The Patronus in the book, which is nearly halfway through the book, we get it far earlier into the DVD.

As you can see even then any hint of Lupin being friends with James is reserved at best and glossed over:
PoA Chp 12: The Patronus"You heard James?" said Lupin in a strange voice.

"Yeah..." Face dry, Harry looked up. "Why -- you didn't know my dad, did you?"

I -- I did, as a matter of fact, said Lupin. We were friends at Hogwarts. Listen, Harry -- perhaps we should leave it here for tonight. This charm is ridiculously advanced.... I shouln't have suggested putting you through this.

In the film he reminisces fondly about both James and Lily at the same time. In such a way that he seem to have personally knew Lily and at least seems impressed enough by James' talent for trouble to admire it. So right off the bat instead of having Lupin distancing himself from James, he shows how close he was to him. So instead of later having to explain the closeness of the relationship of the friendship between James and Lupin later, it's already established at least by Lupin acknowledging he knew the Potters but at most close friends with them.

PoA DVD Chapter 19: The Patronus

This pretty much is the equivalent of Chapter 12: The Patronus in the book however a tiny bit more is revealed. The quote above about Lupin knowing James is changed for this quote instead in the film:

PoA Film(After Summoning a patronus)And just so you know Harry...I think you'd have given your father a run for his money. And that....is saying something.

This quote really sort of cements the idea that Lupin knew James not just as acquaintances but closely enough to say the comment in such a tone that indicates that he was very close witness to James' feats, even possible being a part of them.

PoA DVD Chapter 24: Sirius Black

This is basically the Shrieking Shack and the explanation of the Marauder's Map and the history being the Marauders. Not once Marauders was mentioned in this scene you don't need a nickname to really indicate the closeness of a group of friends. It's the experiences and emotions that determine how close friends are. Now granted "The Marauders" sounds extremely great on paper...geeky in fact. But you know what they say about names..."What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." In this case the bond of friendship is still as strong by any other name and I think that's one of the main problems that people tend to have a problem letting go.

The idea behind using the term Marauders to describe their friendship and with society's overuse of words for "comrades" has sort of made the simple word "friend"; seem too simple. The idea behind the change in the film isn't explaining the origin of their friendship, but the feeling of betrayal because of the friendship. It's the emotion and anger from Lupin and Sirius that elevates the idea of a close group of friends betrayed to the same level of friendship seen in the Marauders in the books.

PoA DVD Chapter 26: Friends Becomes Foes

Now I might be jumping around here. But this portion should be basically renamed: How does James fit all into this?

I've always subscribed to the idea that James being Prongs was sort of easy to equate to being the stag patronus that we see in the film. With the very loose idea that Harry mistakes himself for being his father across the lake, one could only assume that the stag was probably the real incarnation of his father during that part.

The other idea that required a bit of thinking was when Sirius talked to Harry before he left on Buckbeak in PoA Chp 32: Two Places at Once. This being a departure from the text of since Dumbledore explains it a bit more plainly:
PoA Chapter 22: Owl Post again"You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night."

It took a moment for Harry to realize what Dumblefore had said.

"Last night Sirius told me all about how they became Animagi," said Dumbledore, smiling. "An extraordinary achievement -- not least, keeping it quiet from me. And then I remembered the most unusual form your Patronus took, when it charged Mr. Malfoy down at your Quidditch match against Ravenclaw. You know, Harry, in a way, you did see your father last night.... You found him inside yourself."

That isn't to say that the PoA film had anything less to say...just more to think about. There is the idea that because Harry's parents are with him (metaphorically) in his heart. Since it's his heart that powers the positive emotion of his corporeal patronus that he really did see his dad that night...as Prongs as implied in the film:
PoA FilmSirius: I expect you're tired of hearing this...but you look so like your father. Except your eyes. You have--

Harry: My mother's eyes

Sirius: It's cruel that I got to spend so much time with James and Lily, and you so little. But know this, the ones who love us never really leave us. And you can always find them; in here.

[puts his hand over Harry's heart]

However the main problem with this idea is who is Prongs? James and Lily have been discussed almost in tandem throughout the film. The idea that Sirius implies about Harry's parents (not his father James specifically) being in his heart could cause confusion. We certainly can imagine that both James and Lily could have been left out from being animagi. Heck it seems that there is more emphasis put on Lily than James considering that it's only her screams that we hear when Harry faints from Dementors; Lupin discussed her in a bit more intimate detail than James and a constant reference to Harry having her eyes. Lily could have easily been part of the fab four as much as James there isn't really anything indicating the Marauders to be a Boys only Club right now. So where do we go?

All the way back to the chapter title of this section.

The interesting idea about this film is how dual purpose even some of the most throwaway lines are. Take for instance in PoA DVD Chapter 26 a small bit of comedy from Sirius about fleas. But let's look closely at the quote:
PoA FilmSirius Black: Sorry about the bite, I reckon that twinges a bit.

Ron: A bit? A bit? You almost tore my leg off!

Sirius Black: I *was* going for the rat. Normally, I have a very sweet disposition as a dog. In fact, more than once, James suggested that I make the change permanent. The tail I could live with. But the fleas? They're murder.

Well there you go. One werewolf, two animagi and one unaccounted for. James suggested Sirius to make the change permanent; where we can assume that since he knows of their animagus abilities that James himself would join in the fun as well and Lily will be just be Lily.

Finale aka Who wrote the map?

In the end there really isn't anything more lacking in dialogue or information regarding the Marauders in the film compared with the novel. Some ideas were changed to streamline it, but not to really cut anything that one couldn't have pieced together in the first place. Although the explanation of the Marauders Map was omitted, it should be somewhat clear as to who are the authors of the Map and thus why Lupin and Sirius know how the map works. It's funny that time and time again many people bring up the idea that they should explain how Lupin and Sirius know how to use the map, however no one really questions how the Twins are able to use the map in the first place.
  • Wormtail should be the easiest to recognize as Peter Pettigrew due to countless cartoons and comics of rats showing long pink ridged tails that do indeed look like worms.

  • Padfoot probably presents the more difficult idea considering that not everyone owns a dog and are familiar with dogs but should at least realize from most pictures that dogs do have somewhat padded feet.

  • Prongs is also difficult considering the abstraction of the stag as the patronus in the first place. However if one could already draw the correlation between the stag and the father James. One could also draw an assumption that since James is talented he would be Prongs.

  • Lupin being a werewolf isn't really difficult. The meaning of his last name for once thing already means wolf which is about as original as Professor Sprout being the Herbology teacher. The change of his boggart from the ambiguous silver orb to an actual moon behind clouds helps as well with the werewolf lesson. However aside from Moony being Lupin in the first place doesn't really catch the audience's mind that he is one of the author's of the Marauder's Map; the point is nearly driven in with anvil size hinting in PoA Chapter 20: Seeing the Impossible. Even though Snape hints out heavily at the werewolfiness of Lupin, this dual serving comment is actually doing triple duty:
    PoA FilmProfessor Snape: [taps the blank Marauder's Map with his wand] Reveal your secrets.

    [writing appears on the map]

    Professor Snape: Read it.

    Harry: "Messrs. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs, offer their compliments to Professor Snape and..."

    Professor Snape: Go on.

    Harry: "... and request that he keep his abnormally large nose out of other people's business."

    Professor Snape: Why you insolent little--

    Lupin: Professor

    Professor Snape: Well, well, Lupin. Out for a little walk... in the moonlight, are we?


    Is there an echo in the Hallways of Hogwarts? Of course shortly afterwards when Lupin scolds Harry, he knows the properties of the map. However if the last hint of Lupin knowing full well how to close/shut down the map with mischief managed doesn't drive the point home, I don't know what else would.
So there you go. Everything you need to know isn't cut out, but just reinterpreted in the film. If PoA the book was a mystery waiting to be unraveled that might require multiple viewings, then who's to say that it's film counterpart shouldn't also echo the adventure?  Don't take this post as "Thinking outside the book," but more of "Thinking inside the film".
 
 
 
ryf on December 6th, 2007 07:21 pm (UTC)
Mod note: Could you please put a LJ-cut on this? It is pretty long.
siriaeve on December 6th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
Could you please consider using a cut tag on this post? Thank you.

Siria,
Community co-mod.
Magpie: Nevermoresistermagpie on December 6th, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC)
Don't take this post as "Thinking outside the book," but more of "Thinking inside the film".

The most obvious answer is that films don't work like books. You're watching and listening to things, which means that if anything they need to be clearer, not more subtle. I can't imagine why anybody should be having to bother making their own connections to things like rats and wormy tails or dogs and padded feet or stags and prongs and James while they're having to pay attention to what's going on in front of them. If you haven't read the books you might not even have any idea you should be trying to make any connections. Not that I can really speak on the movies since I haven't seen them-but just going by these few lines it seems like they establish they were friends rather than many details about the friendship.
mcpotterdoremcpotterdore on December 6th, 2007 10:07 pm (UTC)
The most obvious answer is that films don't work like books. You're watching and listening to things, which means that if anything they need to be clearer, not more subtle. I can't imagine why anybody should be having to bother making their own connections to things like rats and wormy tails or dogs and padded feet or stags and prongs and James while they're having to pay attention to what's going on in front of them.
However there is little difference between mulling over an idea after reading a book and after watching a film. The film doesn't necessarily have to still be in front of them when they think about these ideas. Take for instance films like the Matrix which spawned and entire sub-culture analyzing the ideas behind the Matrix, all of which is entirely based on duality of the content and subtle ideas that were never clear to begin with.

If you haven't read the books you might not even have any idea you should be trying to make any connections.

Once again this falls into line about people shutting off their brains when they watch a film instead of actually analyzing the potential of there being more. All the analysis of the HP text and etymology is based upon people finding the details behind the subtle presentation. JKR never asked us to find these connections yet we did. Why shouldn't the same concept be applied to film? Because it's a different medium?
Magpie: I'm as yet undecided.sistermagpie on December 6th, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
But we're not exactly talking about mulling over the film as a whole, we're talking about catching a little detail that somebody said and building it into a backstory that in the book is actually written out--for a reason. I don't think that has anything to do with people turning off their brains in the movies. A person might think a lot about the movie after they come out and do so very seriously but not focus on some little detail that led to a fact the movie itself didn't think it was important enough to include. It's one thing to think about the nature of Time Travel, for instance, and another to think about something like these names when the movie isn't much concentrating on the stuff. From what I remember people telling me about the movie, it just seemed like too many steps to get to an answer that a non-book reader wouldn't even have reason to know was worth it.
mcpotterdoremcpotterdore on December 6th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
But we're not exactly talking about mulling over the film as a whole, we're talking about catching a little detail that somebody said and building it into a backstory that in the book is actually written out--for a reason.

Once again, not written out but reinterpreted. It's the way the backstory that was explained that was written out for the reason of pacing and time, however the content still exists.

I don't think that has anything to do with people turning off their brains in the movies. A person might think a lot about the movie after they come out and do so very seriously but not focus on some little detail that led to a fact the movie itself didn't think it was important enough to include

However it was important that it was included, once again it it's subtle presentation and nearly every single piece of dialogue being relevant. Just because someone missed it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Often films when they exhibit a tight script and engages the viewer that it prompts the viewer to analyze each and every detail of which PoA is such a film. It is a film that is so engaging that for some people they want to engage it in minutia which is only a hallmark of it's quality.

It's one thing to think about the nature of Time Travel, for instance, and another to think about something like these names when the movie isn't much concentrating on the stuff. From what I remember people telling me about the movie, it just seemed like too many steps to get to an answer that a non-book reader wouldn't even have reason to know was worth it.

Once again why actually concentrate on it when it's been said already? It isn't concentrating on it because it isn't part of the actual plot regarding Harry but it's presented in such a way that it doesn't deviate from Harry being the protagonist as opposed to some sort of second stringer to the Marauders. However this post isn't purely for non-readers although non-readers could come to the same conclusion. This isn't to defend why the explanation was cut but to actually show it exists in the film and cries of the lack of an explanation are at least false but at most the book-reader being incapable to adapt their analysis skills.
some kind of snark faery: general (ravenclaw nerd)shyfoxling on December 6th, 2007 09:26 pm (UTC)
Padfoot probably presents the more difficult idea considering that not everyone owns a dog and are familiar with dogs but should at least realize from most pictures that dogs do have somewhat padded feet.

"Padfoot" is actually one folkloric name for a large black spectral dog. Black dogs have a significant place in English folklore -- see http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/folklore/black_dogs.html for instance.
snorkackcatchersnorkackcatcher on December 6th, 2007 09:54 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid you haven't convinced me. :) As sistermagpie said, it needs to be clearer in a film -- you have no opportunity to pause and think about what's going on (if you're in the cinema, anyway) in the way you do with a book, and you have fewer lines to work with.
mcpotterdoremcpotterdore on December 6th, 2007 10:15 pm (UTC)
I'm afraid you haven't convinced me. :) As sistermagpie said, it needs to be clearer in a film -- you have no opportunity to pause and think about what's going on (if you're in the cinema, anyway) in the way you do with a book, and you have fewer lines to work with.
Actually I think you proven my point. The idea that they did have fewer lines to work with is why the ended up making such dialogue (even throwaway ones) to be subtle and have more meaning that you think. Once again it's about efficiency. As I said in a previous reply, just because it is a film that shouldn't mean it shouldn't challenge you the same way the novels did. The depth of analysis in any creative medium shouldn't be limited just because it is a different medium, it just means the ways you analyze are different.

Still despite the post not being able to convince you, the connections are still there and the explanation is still there.
Vvvvexation on December 6th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)
Actually I think you proven my point. The idea that they did have fewer lines to work with is why the ended up making such dialogue (even throwaway ones) to be subtle and have more meaning that you think.

No. Proving that the meaning would have had to be subtle if it was there at all is not the same as proving that it was there at all. All you've shown is that very careful viewers might have been able to guess, but never to know for sure, things that they would have had no reason to guess if they had not read the book. I strongly suspect you yourself would never have thought of these things if you hadn't read the book first.
mcpotterdoremcpotterdore on December 7th, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
No. Proving that the meaning would have had to be subtle if it was there at all is not the same as proving that it was there at all. All you've shown is that very careful viewers might have been able to guess, but never to know for sure, but never to know for sure, things that they would have had no reason to guess if they had not read the book.
An interesting point, however to what degree are we not sure of certain things? If there fine line between subtle and downright elusive what can be said of Lupin saying "Mischief Managed" being certain or uncertain? If not just to point out that perhaps there is more to be examined with the Marauders and who they are within the film?

However a lot of things are "guessed" and never known for sure even in the HP book itself. Even with anvil sized hints to a Harry and Ginny relationship, a heavy hint to Snape loving Lily, there were still people who say at best they are guesses, not certainty. There was no reason to guess these certain plot points in HP in the first place yet a lot of people had basically guessed this as early as CoS and OoTP respectively.

Still as you said had they not read the book they probably wouldn't have guessed it, but a lot of theories and ideas about films have been formulated from far less than what was laid out in my original post. It's far more probable than you give it credit for even if people might not reach the same conclusions. It's just that in my case I was able to put the explanation into words whereas some people might already had the instinct to the relationship in the first place. They are certain in what they believe in but are uncertain in how to express that belief.

I strongly suspect you yourself would never have thought of these things if you hadn't read the book first.

That much is true, however a LOT of things would have never been thought of if you do not have prior knowledge about it. A lot of philosophical themes in the Matrix would not be possibly explored by fans or intellectuals had they not the prior education or knowledge with said philosophy. A lot of philosophical ideas about Neon Genesis Evangelion wouldn't be possible if there were people who explore outside sources of thought. However just because I read the books does not mean the points I made do not exist nor less certain. It means it makes the points easier to access and connect than without the novel itself. How it is presented, it shows that it's more obvious that it was intentional on the creative force than being an uncertain interpretation on the audience side.
Juliej_daisy on December 6th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
What frustrates me about the movies is that the screenwriters don't need to worry about whether or not information is canon or not - they have the books to look for. The films absolutely were not meant for most fans of the book. Something about the fact that Emma Watson gets so many lines that don't "belong" to her character at all.
mary_j_59mary_j_59 on December 7th, 2007 04:56 am (UTC)
One of the things that interested me about your quotes - well done, btw - is how clear you make it that the film subtly changed both Sirius's and Lupin's characters. The quote from the book is the extremely reserved, almost ambiguous Lupin many of us had noted and analyzed; film Lupin is much more fatherly and open. Sirius, for his part, is given one of Dumbledore's better lines, therefore seeming wiser and less reckless than book Sirius actually is.

But it really is true that, unless you are dealing with repeated viewings (and probably on a video or DVD so that you can stop and repeat scenes), even very thoughtful viewers are not going to pick up on all the details you point out.

I really like the film of POA, but I can see why it would be confusing to a casual viewer - however observant and intelligent - who had not read the book.
Daan Kusendaankusen on February 9th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC)
I don't think think Sirius can be seen as 'unwise'.
True, Dumbledore has much more knowledge, but let's not forget that throughout the novels
Sirius and James are always remembered as 'brilliant'. And I'm sure that 12 years in Azkaban surely can change
and mature someone!
So, I think it's not that weird for Sirius to say the line. It may only be a bit out of character.
Nemesister: HP1nemesister on December 7th, 2007 12:43 pm (UTC)
Once I've seen a person claim that they got who MWPP are just from seeing the movie. Their best argument was that Wormtail is actually called Wormtail in the end... Don't remember if that's true.

Lupin knowing how to use the map: The easiest explanation for that would be that he is a smart DADA teacher who knows how to use such maps.

It's funny that time and time again many people bring up the idea that they should explain how Lupin and Sirius know how to use the map, however no one really questions how the Twins are able to use the map in the first place.

Here you seem to be arguing against yourself. When it's not explained how anyone uses the map, we can just assume that smart wizards know this or some wizards know this; there is no obvious reason to think that Sirius and Lupin have a special connection to the map just because they, like the twins, happen to know how to handle it.

IMHO It certainly *could* be worked out, but was way too subtle, annoyingly subtle for a movie that includes a ten minute long comedy scene with a shrunken rasta head. Pretty much no one got it and what is the point of that? The satisfying "Aha" moment is missing and for me this will always be one of the most jarring flaws of the film.
mcpotterdoremcpotterdore on December 7th, 2007 06:54 pm (UTC)
Once I've seen a person claim that they got who MWPP are just from seeing the movie. Their best argument was that Wormtail is actually called Wormtail in the end... Don't remember if that's true.

First of all if you're going to make some sort of claim like that, at least confirm whether this point is true or not. Otherwise I find it hard to take any of your other observations to be as well researched and therefore plausible.

Lupin knowing how to use the map: The easiest explanation for that would be that he is a smart DADA teacher who knows how to use such maps.

Incorrect. The easiest explanation is that he created the map. The subtle hint at the end of the film with Lupin's departure aside, once again people put too much emphasis on the amoung words and not enough on the acting and subtlety of the acting. Listen to what Lupin says when Harry tells him the map seems to be malfunctioning.

Harry: Professor, just so you know, I don't think that map always works. Earlier on it showed someone in the castle. Someone I know to be dead.

Lupin: Oh really? Who might that be?

Harry: Peter Pettigrew.

Lupin: That's impossible.

It looks like the life drain out of his face and his tone sounded like of total shock. Now that pretty much shows that something has spooked him in the most obvious case that he believes Pettigrew to be dead but for what other reason would he feel this way if he was not close to him? Also why was he so shocked in the first place of hearing someone to be dead but appearing on a map that, from what I can assume from your quote, that DADA teachers are apparently accustomed to dealing with. Why should something that you assume might be a more than rare occurrence of magic create such a personal reaction from Lupin? Because he owned the map perhaps at one point of time at least, but more logically created it.

Here you seem to be arguing against yourself. When it's not explained how anyone uses the map, we can just assume that smart wizards know this or some wizards know this; there is no obvious reason to think that Sirius and Lupin have a special connection to the map just because they, like the twins, happen to know how to handle it.

The subtle hint at the end of the film with Lupin's departure and my explanation above aside, take for instance when Sirius said: "The Map never lies!" Once again sounds very personal doesn't it? Especially in how he said it. I mean he could have easily just said "Map like that never lie" or "The magic is too good on that map, it cannot be lying." Instead they took a term that all of us use as a way to personally connect ourselves with either someone or something.

IMHO It certainly *could* be worked out, but was way too subtle, annoyingly subtle for a movie that includes a ten minute long comedy scene with a shrunken rasta head. Pretty much no one got it and what is the point of that? The satisfying "Aha" moment is missing and for me this will always be one of the most jarring flaws of the film.

The point of the marauder's explanation still existing in the film shouldn't be overlooked just because of the existence of the shrunken head in the bus. However for reference that actual scene involving the shrunken head last 3 minutes. Not the exaggerated 10 that you stated. Still the actual amount of dialogue and screentime the shrunken head actually had was about 34 seconds, laughing included. If somehow there was something more insightful to be explained in 34 seconds that fit in with the rest of the context of the marauders in the film I don't know.

As for no one getting it a lot of people don't get many things, however it's still there. The point of it existing perhaps they actually care about the text to make it transfer into film logic and tone that was and is similar to the logic and tone of the novel. I doubt many people decided to go into the themes and ideas that many great thought provoking films possess, but the fact is those ideas and themes exist for anyone whether few or many, to access. The point being it is there and there was intent to put it there. This makes the satisfying AHA moment all the more satisfying when you challenge yourself to find out this answer.
ladylavinialadylavinia on December 11th, 2007 12:05 am (UTC)
What would have easily been a half an hour backstory of Lupin's school days with James, Sirius and Peter was condensed into about 10 minutes, even less if you don't consider the confrontation post Pettigrew transformation.


If you believe that movies are not expected to be a carbon copy of the novels, why would you expect the PoA movie to spend a half hour on the Marauders' background? That would be an incredible waste of film. Granted, the movie could have revealed how Remus and Sirius knew about the map. But to spend 30 minutes on their school days at Hogswarts?
mcpotterdoremcpotterdore on December 11th, 2007 03:53 am (UTC)
If you believe that movies are not expected to be a carbon copy of the novels, why would you expect the PoA movie to spend a half hour on the Marauders' background? That would be an incredible waste of film. Granted, the movie could have revealed how Remus and Sirius knew about the map. But to spend 30 minutes on their school days at Hogswarts?

I didn't say I expected it or wanted it. I said that the explanation could have easily been bloated into half an hour. In other words, if the adaptation was handled inefficiently, it could have easily resulted in a half an hour explanation. Perhaps like the poster above you, I have exaggerated the time that might have resulted, at most probably 15-20 minutes. However it is very possible that something like that can happen. Thankfully it did not.