It’s still hard to believe that Harry Potter wrapped up all the way back in 2011. It was the story of many childhoods; the teenage boy who attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, befriended the likes of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, and went on to defeat Lord Voldemort. While the books were a blockbuster event in themselves, the movie’s meant that the story of the youngster was able to be told on the silver screen.
The franchise was able to almost flawlessly tell Harry’s tale, giving us some locations exactly from the book. Others, though, left something to be desired. We now look at the settings that stayed true to form, and the ones that did not.
10 The Same: The Great Hall
One of the first places Harry goes when he starts his journey at Hogwarts is the Great Hall. It is here he is sorted into Gryffindor house under the gaze of his fellow students, and it would be there—in the books, at least—that his final fight with Voldemort would take place, with the Boy Who Lived defeating the Dark Lord in front of just about everybody in the magical world.
And the movies do an excellent job of recreating the place. They pay such close attention to detail that the room basically has the lot. There’s the teacher’s table at the top, the four house tables, the fireplaces, the floating candles, the invisible roof, and much, much more. The very definition of nailed it.
9 The Same: Hagrid’s Hut
Hagrid befriends Harry from the very beginning and, in the very first book, the Hogwarts student is shown the half-giant’s home. It’s a modest hut on the outskirts of the school, and Potter spends time there eating rock cakes, playing with Fang the dog, and also helping to raise a dragon when Hagrid illegally acquires its egg from the disguised Professor Quirrell.
The movie’s manage to bring Hagrid’s home to life with utmost accuracy. The directors manage to capture the dinginess of it while packing it with creatures that would be found in the Hogwarts Groundskeeper’s home. It gets slightly touched up as the movies go on, but it is yet another iconic setting for the series.
8 Changed: Beauxbatons Carriage
In the books, the Beauxbaton’s Carriage is absolutely massive. And, while in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire we see it nearly collide with Hagrid—he’s a half-giant, how was that able to happen?!—it simply isn’t an accurate representation of what JK Rowling had written down on paper.
The carriage is meant to house the entirety of their chosen students to compete in the dangerous Triwizard Tournament, including their massive headmistress, Madame Maxime. On screen, however, it doesn’t look like it can host the giantess alone, never mind the rest of her students such as Fleur Delacour. We don’t even get to go inside, and that makes it an opportunity missed.
7 The Same: Godric’s Hollow
When reading the books, you always got a sense that Godric’s Hollow, the place where Lily and James Potter would raise Harry before dying and the former home of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, was a cozy little communal village. Thankfully, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, we get to see that on the big screen.
The Victorian and old-fashioned style means it feels cozy and warm, particularly with the cold snow blanketing the area. And Bathilda Bagshot’s home is as dirty and decayed as in the books, with the historian’s transformation into Nagini giving audiences a major jump scare. While Godric’s Hollow snubs the memorial to Lily and James seen in the books, it gives us a glimpse of their destroyed home in the movie’s sequel, and it’s just as vivid as its paper counterpart.
6 The Same: Chamber of Secrets
The Chamber of Secrets, as in the location, is a remarkable location for the movie. After Harry, Ron, and Gilderoy Lockhart hatch a plan to save Ginny Weasley after her kidnapping at the hands of Tom Riddle, the trio have no choice but to find the entrance. After a little pep talk with Moaning Myrtle, they slide into the chamber itself and find some horrors along the way.
The movie succeeds with an accurate re-telling of the book version. The location has the lot; from the dead snakeskin to the Salazar Slytherin tribute, the eerie tunnels, to the sight of Ginny lying motionless on its floor. It also makes another appearance in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, minus the Basilisk’s skeleton—which was a minor shame.
5 The Same: The Forbidden Forest
It is made abundantly clear in JK Rowling’s novels that the Forbidden Forest is not a place you would like to go. Harry’s first trip in there nearly ends with his death at the hands of Voldemort, his second sees him have a close shave with a giant spider, and his third almost sees him mauled by Remus Lupin in his werewolf form. Basically, the message is one of: STAY AWAY.
And the movies are not tamer versions of the setting, despite their limited run times. With its eery fog and threatening mist, it just looks creepy. It’s a fittingly scary home for a variety of fearsome creates, from Voldemort, Aragog, the Hungarian Horntail dragon, Grawp and much, much more. We would have liked to have seen more of the Centaurs—Firenze, in particular—but its still something straight from the source material.
4 Changed: The Cave
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince sees the Boy Who Lived travel to a cave where Tom Riddle went as a child with headmaster Albus Dumbledore with the sole intention of destroying one of the Dark Lord’s Horcruxes. While the book spends its time creating an image of a place full of horrors and sadistic things, the movie skims over the details, and, as a result, it falls a bit flat.
For example, the books force Harry and Dumbledore to enter the cave by sacrificing blood. The Hogwarts Headmaster does this and is immediately weakened. They are meant to row over to the Horcrux and the basin it lies in but we don’t see that either; they just kind of end up there. The Half-Blood Prince was guilty of rushing things in general, and that’s why the cave failed to bring its book version to life.
3 The Same: The Burrow
If we could live in any place in the Harry Potter universe, outside of Hogwarts of course, it would almost certainly be The Burrow. The place is, quite simply, a mess—but a loveable one. It hosts the Weasley family and relies on magic to sustain itself, with the building’s entire construction being owed to the use of a wand. Thankfully, the movies are able to make it exactly how it is in the books.
We know that it’s a pigsty, but we love it regardless. The Burrow of the movies has the same features as the core material, from the chickens running about, the magical clock in the living room, the fireplace where Harry swallows Floo Powder to Ron’s tiny, cramped bedroom. We certainly wouldn’t say no to some of Mrs. Weasley’s cooking, either...
2 Changed: Triwizard Maze
When Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was released, the movie hit all the high notes. David Tennant as Barty Crouch Jr? Check. Voldemort returning to life and establishing himself? Check. Harry Potter learning to grow up, asking girls to the prom? Check. But one area where it failed was bringing the Triwizard Maze to life.
Sure, it was cool, but it had so much missing. There was no Blast-Ended Skrewts, no cryptic Sphinx or any of the other creatures that Harry comes across in the book. This meant it felt a bit too rushed, and the directors should have instead spent time giving Harry more obstacles to overcome in order to make his achievement in winning the Triwizard tournament that more special.
1 The Same: Gryffindor Common Room
The Gryffindor common room in the Harry Potter books sounds like a place everybody would love to chill. What with its glorious four-poster beds, cozy fireplace, comfortable armchairs, and, of course, it’s guardian, the Fat Lady. And the movies were able to perfectly reflect just how great a place it is.
While Harry, Ron, and Hermione spend less screen time together in the place as the movies go on, it doesn’t stop it being an iconic location. During the first few blockbusters, it is a regular setting and is able to perfectly convey the comfort of the place, making us all want to spend a night there. Of course, that won’t ever be possible, but if you’re unsure what house you’d like to be sorted into the warmth of the place should make your mind up alone.