Halloween in the Harry Potter Films
The Harry Potter film series can claim to have introduced a large chunk of the Indian audiences to Halloween.
A thousand live bats fluttered from the walls and ceiling while a thousand more swooped over the tables in low black clouds, making the candles in the pumpkin stutter.
This sentence brings to mind that exquisite room called the Great Hall. Maybe that Harry Potter theme played in your mind as you pictured the Great Hall?
The Hogwarts Halloween feast is a prominent event in the first film. The events of the next couple of books that occurred on Halloween are featured in the film series. The script or the production design doesn’t explicitly state that it is Halloween. Based on logic and things that the characters say we interpret that it is Halloween.
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Condensing all the important elements into a 150-minute film proved to be tough as the books expanded. They omitted Quidditch too from one film which made its return in the Half-Blood Prince. Halloween events were not as prominent in the later books as they were in the initial four books. However, it completely disappeared from the films following the first three.
3. Sirius Black enters Hogwarts
They haven’t expressly stated that this was or wasn’t set on Halloween. But the events of the movie match the events of the book which lead up to the Halloween feast.
This sequence has a forlorn and dejected Harry who isn’t allowed to visit Hogsmeade. He then meets Lupin who talks about the bogart and his familiarity with Lily and James Potter. In the evening following dinner, there is chaos outside the Gryffindor common room portrait hole as there is no way in after the fat lady’s portrait had been slashed.
This scene has clear evidence that trivial stuff like ghosts and Halloween decor could not be afforded. Filch instead was able to find the fat lady in a jiffy thus saving the VFX budget on creating the ghosts on the screen.
Dumbledore says, “everyone back to the great hall.” This implies that they were all at the great hall for a mass gathering and not the usual dinner when everyone ate at different times.
The sight of the dementors floating around Hogwarts over the lake immediately after that scene of the doors magically latching themselves is breathtaking. It leaves us with a feeling of apprehension for at that point in the film we believe Sirius Black to be the notorious mass murderer.
It’s hard to believe that Sirius Black lost track of the date and did not choose Halloween as the day he would murder Peter Pettigrew for it fell on the anniversary of the day Lily and James were murdered by Lord Voldemort.
2. The Chamber of Secrets opens
After his detention (answering fan mail) with Gilderoy Lockhart, Harry decides to pursue the voice he can hear which has intentions to kill. He runs into Ron and Hermione who have been looking for him. The trio sprint to a flooded corridor where they see the words…
The chamber of secrets has been opened, enemies of the heir beware.
This scene too has a large number of students around implying that there was a feast. Snape says that he doesn’t recall seeing Potter at dinner. This is another indication that the dinner in question was a feast.
This one too doesn’t explicitly state that it is Halloween. The opposite isn’t stated either. The setting, the dialogues and the confession by Riddle about how it took him time to earn Ginny’s trust lead us to safely assume that the opening (we later find out) re-opening of The Chamber of Secrets was a Halloween event.
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We lost out on the mesmerizing Halloween set decor seen in the first film. But the money saved there was used well in creating the Basilisk, the Chamber of Secrets, Aragog and the Flying Ford Anglia. All of which were involved in the film’s events only due to ‘What happened on Halloween.’
Troll in the dungeon
This was the first time we saw Halloween in Hogwarts. It was also the first time we saw the trio use magic to defend themselves.
“The swish and flick…. Wingardium Leviosa.”
There is a buzz about the Great Hall at the Halloween feast when Quirrel runs in and yells out, “Troll in the dungeon,” before collapsing. Pandemonium erupts and Dumbledore breaks character as he yells out for silence. He then orders all students to their dormitories and teachers to the dungeon.
I wonder why no one ever talks about this scene when comparing the book Dumbledore to the movie Dumbledore. In the book, he shoots fireworks from his wand to bring order back to the hall, but in the film, he yells out. Whilst re-watching this scene, I began to wonder if this scene had been bashed as much as the “DID YOU PUT YOUR NAME IN THE GOBLET OF FIRE” was we wouldn’t have had that scene.
Whilst being shepherded to their dorms, Harry and Ron realize that Hermione isn’t aware of the Troll. They sprint off towards the bathroom where she is. Here they decide to engage in a muggle battle with the trolls and toss pieces of wood on it. Harry then decides to mount the troll.
This ‘Halloween moment’ is the best one as it clearly shows the audience that it is Halloween and leaves nothing up for debate like the aforementioned scenes. It cements the friendship of the lead trio and sees Harry and Ron earn points for Gryffindor for the first time.
It was the first time of many that something happening always involved Harry, Hermione, and Ron. Professor McGonagall says a line to express her exasperation at this very point in the sixth film.
These three. Halloween 1991 was where it all began.