Book Adaptations: ‘Cursed Child’ Should Not Be a Movie

Screenshot of Daniel Radcliffe in ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’. Copyright goes to Warner Bros.

Hi! It’s Annie!

As many of you probably already know, it was recently the twentieth anniversary of the first ‘Harry Potter’ film. And on this occasion of many articles celebrating the books and films, the director of the first two Potter films, Chris Columbus, came out and said that he really wanted to tackle a new project. This project being ‘Cursed Child’. For the few of you who don’t know, ‘Cursed Child’ is a two part play that began on the West End in London and eventually was published to massive queues outside of bookshops everywhere as a script. The story follows the children of the original characters as they go back in time and try to prevent a series of catastrophic things from happening. The fact that Chris Columbus is trying to push this into a movie format received mostly mixed reactions, most bearing on the side of quirked eyebrows. Why, you may ask? Because ‘Cursed Child’ is absolutely absurd. I know that sounds rich coming from a franchise about wizards and witches, but ‘Cursed Child’ was not good as a play or a script. At all. And I’m really not afraid to say this. Some people who have seen the two part play say that it is much better in a play format, just because of how many effects the theatre can do justice. But I don’t think anyone is going to argue that ‘Cursed Child’ is an amazing canonical continuation of the story. While I have come to accept that this may be good live at the theatre; as someone who has read the script I can definitely say that it will probably be awful in every other adaptation. Here are just a few of the reasons why.

Harry Himself:

One of the major complaints about this play is that most, if not all, of the characters are out of character. And you’ll see me go over a few characters because of this. But one of the biggest offenses has to be that the title character of the original series himself is out of character. Harry is not a good father. In fact, in ‘Cursed Child’ he’s not even supposed to be a good father. He has a penchant for ignoring his children, especially when they really need him, and putting pressure on them to be as great as he was. Which literally doesn’t make any sense. Harry is a child who grew up in an abusive household where his caretakers more often than not pretended as though he didn’t exist. So you’re telling me that Harry would not want to make his children have a childhood as far from that as possible? It doesn’t make any sense. Especially when you then consider that Harry always viewed him having to fight Voldemort at his age in a negative light. There is no way that Harry would put any of the pressures on Albus that he does in this. And the fact that Harry grew up to be a bad father in this version is both awful and heartbreaking. There is really no explaining this away. The writers of this play decided to mess up the title character of the franchise to fuel a storyline that barely even goes with anything previous. It’s pretty sad when Draco is ten times the man Harry is.

Hermione (and Ron):

Literally everything about Hermione crushed me. Firstly, when we meet Hermione in this show she is now the Minister for Magic. There are several reasons why this is completely ridiculous. Firstly, in the seventh book Rufus Scrimgeour, a notoriously bad Minister, tells Hermione that she would be good at his job should she want it. She tells him very clearly that she would never want that job. And it isn’t because this was somehow foreshadowing her eventual position. If you look at the original ‘Harry Potter’ books, there’s a lot of rightful warnings against politicians (among all the horrible things Rowling also wrote). Politicians in this world are almost never viewed in a good light and Rowling warns time and time again against the dangers of power. So Hermione becoming the Minister for Magic, is against much of what Hermione stood for in the original books and films. But this isn’t even the least of it. How Hermione is portrayed in the rest of the play is, to me, downright insulting. Scorpius and Albus go back to a version of time where the only very prominent change to Hermione is that she never married Ron. This simple change results in her being a professor at Hogwarts instead of the Minister for Magic. Which, in my eyes, is definitely not a bad thing and something I would much prefer. But Ron being married to someone else makes her even worse to her students than Snape was for some reason. She becomes incredibly awful and rude and she spends half her time pining after Ron. Even though Hermione was never rude even before she was romantically interested in Ron. Way to tell women everywhere that one of the most revered literary feminist icons really does need a man. I have made it pretty clear that I’m not a huge fan of Hermione and Ron as a couple in the first place. I personally view the Golden trio as having a sibling dynamic. But this goes beyond whether or not you like Hermione and Ron as a couple. This implies that all of Hermione’s successes in her career and even in being a good person are contingent on a man and on her marriage. This idea is so sexist, I could cry.

General Absurdity:

As I’ve said before, it’s a little rich to point out absurdity in a franchise that is about magic and witches and wizards. But there are still rules that are created within that world. Rules that are broken several times throughout this screenplay. On one occasion, Scorpius and Albus decide that they are going to leave the Hogwarts Express while the train is still in motion. Alright, fine. However, when they get to the top of the train the tiny trolley witch who sells candy suddenly becomes a Hogwarts spy armed with explosives. What are the explosives? Some of the candy on the trolley cart. Is it just me, or does this sound more like a parody than something actually serious? The fact that this was written in complete seriousness makes me a little bit nauseous. Who thought of this? If I’m going to watch a Potter parody I would much rather watch ‘Potter Puppet Pals’. That’s not where it ends. The entire series is contingent on time turners which are revealed to have a list of new powers we’ve never discussed. And for some reason, Albus and Scorpius attempting to interfere in Cedric Diggory’s death eventually makes Cedric a Death Eater. Not only is this a pretty poor way to honor the Cedric from the books who was just a child when he dies for no apparent reason; this is also extremely unrealistic considering the canonical character. And don’t make me think about the fact that Voldemort has a child, because that’s disturbing in every way possible. Even in the realm of magic, nothing in this entire story makes any sense. And that’s less to do with the magical world of ‘Harry Potter’ and more to do with the complete lack of character integrity.

Scorpius and Draco:

For all the bad, which is by far most of the book, I did want to point out some good. Albus isn’t much of a likable character, but Scorpius definitely is. And Harry and Draco also trade hands on who is a likable character in this story. Draco gets a redemption arc, though I don’t think there’s enough leading up to it. Scorpius as a character is absolutely precious. He’s nerdy and extremely sweet. I think he’s more of a Hufflepuff, but I digress. What sucks more for them is that they have been placed in a story where everything else is so distorted that nothing seems realistic. Including their kindness and character development. I can’t believe I’m saying this about Draco, but both of these characters deserved so much better than the story around them.

These are just a few of my complaints with this awful screenplay. I didn’t even mention the uselessness of Ginny or the complete lack of Neville or Luna. Luna is one of my favorite characters in the franchise and she’s barely mentioned and Neville is even killed off in a piece of this story. I would have loved for them to show LGBTQ+ representation with Albus and Scorpius but, much like the rest of ‘Harry Potter’, nothing is ever confirmed. Many people who read and hated the screenplay saw the actual play and loved it. But many of those people also confirmed that it should never be canon. And really, there’s no part of this that I want to see brought to life after reading it myself. Especially not on screen. I personally have chosen to not listen to anything Rowling wrote outside of the books, and some of the stuff in the books to boot. Such as the death of Fred which you can’t convince me actually happened. But I’m less inclined to believe this than even any of that. Rowling has done enough to the ‘Harry Potter’ fandom already. We don’t need this on top of everything else to make it worse.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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