Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Harry and Hermione, Onscreen

I, like all the self-respecting nerds of the world, have Harry Potter on the brain. Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 was pretty amazing, and it got me thinking about the film series as a whole - but more specifically, the treatment of Harry and Hermione onscreen. One of the promotional posters for DH featured just Harry and Hermione in their formalwear standing inside the doors of a subway car, and the filmmakers also added (spoiler alert!) the Harry and Hermione dancing scene. Putting two and two together, many are concluding that TPTB are almost suggesting the possibility of a romantic undertone to the Harry and Hermione's relationship.

The internet took notice.
And I read a slew of comments that basically amounted to "EW NO HARRY AND HERMIONE ARE LIKE SIBLINGS EW SHE LIKES RON" and a lot of "BUT JK ROWLING WROTE IT TO BE RON/HERMIONE." I could not help but roll my eyes.

Let me say first: yes, I ship H/Hr. Not very actively, mind you. I just prefer their relationship to Ron and Hermione's, regardless of romantic entanglements. And before I go on, I also want to make two things clear: 1) I do not profess to be a Harry Potter expert. It's been a few years since I've read the books, and so what's in my head is very big picture. I'm not going to quote the text and dissect its meaning. But if I goof something huge that needs correcting, please gently let me know.

I do not want any hatin' rolling through these parts. I don't hate R/Hr, and I don't want anyone hating on H/Hr. I'd also rather no one use the word "delusional." Shipping one or the other is merely a difference of interpretation. We all read the same text. We just construed things differently from what was presented to us. No big deal. I know canon swung the way of R/Hr and H/G in the end, and that's fine. I'm not going to argue with canon. Canon's canon.

However, Harry and Hermione have a relationship in those pages. And even though Rowling made it plainly clear that Ron and Hermione had their (in my opinion) weird flirty-bickery-crush thing going on, I was always more interested in the the H/Hr dynamic. It always seemed far more stable, honest, and equal than the other relationships in the book. They knew each other completely, understood each other wordlessly, and stood by one another with very little angst. I appreciated how genuinely unfettered their relationship was. Ironically, it is perhaps this very lack of drama that makes readers unconvinced in a H/Hr ship, but it's what I like best about the two.

I will point out as well that numerous characters in the books assumed there was something romantic going on between Harry and Hermione - if I recall correctly, Cho, Rita Skeeter, and even Dumbledore all made the assumption before being reassured that they were just friends. Rowling went out of her way to have the characters verbalize their non-attraction, just to make sure everybody got the message. Which leaves me with the impression that the only thing standing in the way of a Harry/Hermione romance is the characters' desires themselves. That's totally valid. Rowling can make the characters feel however she wants them to feel. However, that doesn't change the circumstances and hallmarks of their dynamic, and so I feel free to ship them at will. The plausibility of the situation is still there.

And that's why I have to admire the filmmakers for boldly acknowledging just that: the plausibility. It's very clear, by this point in the films, that Ron and Hermione are headed for romantic bliss. However, the Harry/Hermione bond is one of the strongest in the films (the books are another beast) and I appreciate that Kloves and Co. didn't sweep it under the rug after six films of development. I don't think anyone's waiting with bated breath for Movie!Hermione to pull a switcheroo and declare her love for Movie!Harry. The movie relationship of Ron and Hermione is well-played onscreen too, frankly, and I actually appreciate it much more than I ever did in the books.

But Movie!Harry and Movie!Hermione share something very specific and intangible, and something very much separate from Ron. Even in the books, Harry and Hermione spent a large amount of important scenes of together without Ron - from the third act of time travel in Book 3, to the scenes with Grawp in Book 5, to the sizeable portion of Book 7 where Ron is gone and Harry and Hermione visit James and Lily's grave. Yes, Ron and Hermione spend big portions of time together sans Harry, but when the books are told through Harry's eyes, we, as readers, are not privy to these interactions. I think that's perhaps why I see more depth to the H/Hr relationship - it makes sense that any ship is stronger when 50% of it is the main character through which we view the entire world. And that's also perhaps why it's easier to strengthen the movie's relationships as opposed to the book's, because on film we are allowed to see what Ron and Hermione are doing when Harry's in the background, and even when he's not around. The sense of trio onscreen is excellent because of this.

So I just don't get all the outrage over the representation of Harry and Hermione in the films. I don't find it all that threatening to the Ron/Hermione dynamic, which is also rather well done, or even to the trio dynamic, which is solid. I've always been in the camp of those who saw infinitely more chemistry between Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe than between Emma and Rupert Grint. You may as well play to that strength, as long as you're not sacrificing the Ron/Hermione relationship. And I don't think they are. The filmmakers are making the Ron/Hermione attraction very clear, and in a way, the added Harry/Hermione interactions are confirming the lack of romance and closing the book on the very idea. It's certainly interesting that by acknowledging a possibility, the filmmakers are also bringing forth the rejection of the possibility, how it should be in canon.

In short: it frustrates me that so many are vehemently rejecting the film's portrayal of Harry and Hermione's relationship. I don't think you can deny their bond. You don't have to see it as a romantic bond, of course, but I just don't see how the relationship itself can, or should, be pushed aside.
Whether or not you prefer it to the Ron/Hermione dynamic is up to you and the way you've interpreted JK Rowling's words. But Harry and Hermione are a very real entity on the page and onscreen, and they deserve the attention given to them in the films, regardless of shipping wars, "who likes whom," and the concept of "endgame."


  1. Thank you for expressing your opinion in a very coherent and well thought out way. I've never understood why there was so much anger directed towards people who happen to like H/Hr more than they do R/Hr. I prefer H/Hr, but I'm not going and denying that canon exists, and I don't hate R/Hr. In fact, that relationship has grown on me over time. I agree with just about every point you made, and just wanted to give kudos. :)

  2. Anonymous - thanks so much! I have to agree that getting up in arms over things like fandom ships is just ridiculous. I like to see other people disagreeing respectfully and still getting along! To each his or her own. Thanks for reading, and the comment!

    hpsensations - Well-said! Everybody likes being agreed with. :)

  3. they DO NOT portray the ron/harry friendship as important as the harry/hermione one. and that is a huge problem a lot of people have. they are basically making it out that hermione is harry's number one best friends, and anyone who has read the books knows that is not true. harry doesn't enjoy spending long amounts of time with only hermione. she's not as fun as ron.

  4. She Bloggo, thanks for those well-reasoned words.

    Anonymous @8:37pm, you're making an awfully big leap there. Hermione is clearly shown to be Harry's most loyal and staunch supporter in the books as well as in the movies - she chooses him over Ron every time when Harry needs her, and for a "number one best friend", Ron breaks Harry's trust twice in major ways. You're taking one little quote from GoF and applying it to the entire series of seven books. Ron was Harry's first friend and certainly his best mate, but I would call Hermione the truer, stronger friend and (as Rowling herself admitted) certainly potentially his other half romantically as well.

  5. as far as their friendship goes, they are a trio for a reason. ron keeps them together, jkr has said so. evidenced by deathly hallows when he is gone and harry and hermione barely know how to function without him.

    also, i don't know how else you could take the quote, "he liked hermione very much, but she wasn't the same as ron." i think it speaks for itself.

    jkr only admitted that it "could have gone that way" in regards to the time when ron is gone. they were alone, etc etc but that doesn't mean she was saying that there was potential throughout the entire series- which she's shot down multiple times over the years.

  6. An excellent and balanced post. I'm a H/Hr fan and I'm been bemused, and somewhat mystified, by the movies' heavy promotion of the H/Hr friendship ... even at the cost of the official canon relationships. Every minute spent embellishing H/Hr is, after all, time that could have been spent shining light on R/Hr or the stillborn H/G.

    I'm still a bit puzzled as to why they've invested so much in the H/Hr arrangement ... surely minimising the payoff when they finally have the R/Hr kiss and epilogue scenes? Maybe it's just a case of Hollywood pushing that superior H/Hr movie chemistry as far as they can for film appeal and to attract the viewers. Or knowing that the R/Hr and H/G wouldn't work very well anyway? (The films' Ginny is lifeless and Ron has been rendered as comic relief from the start.)

    > "It's certainly interesting that by acknowledging a possibility, the filmmakers are also bringing forth the rejection of the possibility, how it should be in canon."

    That's a great point. I haven't seen the movie, but I gather those R/Hr hints - while maybe not anvil-sized! - are there.

    > "I don't find it all that threatening to the Ron/Hermione dynamic"

    It's interesting, though, to see all those canon fans who *are* threatened by the movie H/Hr appeal. I think it's simply fascinating to see them come out of the woodwork in their superficial protests against the non-canon couple. I've seen enough - both in various polls and blogs and also one personal case - to know that some fans really can't stand the 'opposition' they see to Rowling's official romances.

    The funny thing though, which exposes their insecurity in their own professed position, is that they see the H/Hr as 'wrong' or competition in the first place. Harry and Hermione had a firm and solid friendship in the books; they have one even more so - more apparent, anyway - in the movies. A romance between the two was always *plausible*, as you say; but the canon crowd just don't want to acknowledge that at all. H/Hr is against the law, you are just not allowed to go there! And thus the outrage at the filmakers "boldly acknowedging" that very fact.

    If they truly had faith in the canon couplings, if same were written as convincing and beyond contesting, then this rabid resistance to seeing Harry and Hermione enjoying their friendship would surely not be present?


    > "ron keeps them together, jkr has said so."

    She had to say so, since it wasn't in the books that way. :-)

    > "... evidenced by deathly hallows when he is gone and harry and hermione barely know how to function without him."

    Wasn't that sad, though? The only way that Rowling could contrive to show Ron's importance to the Trio was to have Hermione - the strong girl who could face Death Eaters and prevail - collapse into a sobbing mess ... and have Harry, supposedly one of her two best friends, callously and coldly ignore her as she cried herself to sleep every night.

    Yes, Rowling desperately wanted to show how important Ron was to the Trio ... but the only way she was able to do that was by tearing the other two down. Quite sad, I thought. Kudos to the movie makers for keeping Harry in character as a *friend* to Hermione during those Ron-less days.

    > "i don't know how else you could take the quote, "he liked hermione very much, but she wasn't the same as ron." i think it speaks for itself."

    Yes, it speaks for itself - in one book/year. Like avidbeader said, you're taking a huge leap in trying to extrapolate that to cover the entire series. I think the quote will reach its breaking point and disintegrate if you try and stretch it that far, sorry.

  7. After seeing that bit of the dance scene from DH2 in the sneak peek, I have to agree with Brad that as a H/Hr I'm pleased, but also rather bemused at the push they're getting. I suppose it's simply an acknowledgment of the chemistry and the large part of the fandom that does ship those two.

  8. So well thought out and succinctly put! I've always been a H/Hr person and not even from a romantic perspective - but from the "relationship" perspective with their friendship! Yes Harry and Ron are close and Ron is his best mate...Ron was his first friend and Ron was the one that was taken as "the person he would miss most" in GoF while Hermione was taken for Krum - however, I have always felt their friendship and therefore relationship was the stronger of the trio.

    I have actually grown to love R/Hr and H/G over the years (movie versions aside because I STILL don't agree with H/G in the movies since they basically mutilated even the small bit of character Ginny had in the books) but I have always loved H/Hr.

    From book one and the first time she sticks up for them and Harry decides to be nice to her (even when Ron continues to want to make fun of her), to book two when Magonagal seeks Harry to tell him about Hermione being petrified and only remembers others as a kind of afterthought, book three where she and Harry rescue Sirius, her supporting Harry in GoF knowing he didn't put his name in the Goblet, her helping him through "teaching" in OoTP, them helping each other through heartache in HBP to the WHOLE time in DH when Ron is gone...

    Still some of the most beautiful scenes in the series (books and movies) [for me at least] are the H/Hr scene - the "how does it feel Harry?" conversation in HBP and the DANCE in DH1, visiting the graves in DH1...so many amazing scenes! AND I agree wholeheartedly about the "I'll go with you!" line! It gets me every single time I watch the film! Emma did that perfectly!

    I will always adore the H/Hr friendship so much! And I fully believe that it was focused on even more in the films because of the strength of Dan and Emma's chemistry and friendship...

    Thank you for putting thoughts to my heart/head!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...