Do you have any posts on what you don't like about Movie Bellatrix, or could you explain why? I thought movie bellatrix was ok. Love the blog by the way xx
Thanks so much!
Apologies for the amount of time this response took. I couldn’t actually find many posts on the topic (besides this HPC - if anyone knows of other book!Bellatrix vs movie!Bellatrix posts, I would love to be linked to them) so I slapped one together myself.
This post is not about Helena Bonham Carter not being a good actress
(she is) or about which version of Bellatrix people personally liked
more. This is a mixture of book-vs-movie fact comparisons and personal opinion.
- In the movies, Bellatrix is ‘crazy’ in a hammy sort of way. A kooky woman with floofy hair who ran around on tabletops - silly, out of control, and with an occasional childlike insolence. She literally says “Blech!” when Voldemort mentions Wizard-Muggle intermarriage, and shouts, “Somebody needs to do the washing!” when Voldemort invites Neville to be a Death Eater. Not only does it seem like she’s trying to be the comic relief, she’s also practically interrupting Voldemort mid-speech.
- Helena Bonham Carter falls into a small group of actors
on the Potter films who looked perfect for the role on paper, but
Something Happened and they ended up quite different from their initial
book incarnation, despite the actor’s likely capability to portray the
character to perfection if properly scripted and directed. (I’m looking
at Ralph Fiennes, and possibly Emma Thompson, Timothy Spall, and Natalia
Tena. Tena should have been let loose a little; Carter perhaps reined in a bit more. Helen McCrory, who was originally meant to play Bellatrix and ended up as Narcissa Malfoy, recently took a literal blood bath in Penny Dreadful. It makes one wonder how she would have done in the role.) As with a
lot of characters in the movie
adaption, the subtlety in Bellatrix was lost.
- Or to put it another way, Carter
basically ended up playing a version of herself, as occasionally tends to happen in her movies….
- She wasn’t styled well either - the books never mention a rat’s nest of hair or any tooth problems, which could likely have been fixed by magic and don’t suit her background as a proud aristocrat. Those problems are on the makeup team, though.
A lot of this is how she was scripted, of course, which gave her much less gravity than she had in the books:
Movies: ‘Cissy, put the boys in the cellar! I’m going to have a conversation with this one, girl to girl.’
Books: ‘You need more persuasion?’ she said, her chest rising and falling rapidly. ‘Very well - take the smallest one. Let him watch while we torture the little girl. I’ll do it.’
Movies: ‘Neville Longbottom, isn’t it? How’s mum and dad? ‘
Books: ‘Longbottom?’ repeated Bellatrix, and a truly evil smile lit her gaunt face. ‘Why, I have had the pleasure of meeting your parents, boy. [….] No, let’s see how long Longbottom lasts before he cracks like his parents….”
Movies: ‘How dare you speak his name! YOU FILTHY HALF BLOOD!’
Books: ‘You dare speak his name?’ whispered Bellatrix.
[….] ‘Shut your mouth! You dare speak his name
with your unworthy lips, you dare besmirch it with your half-blood’s
tongue, you dare - ’
in the books -
- - as shrieking and prone to baby-talk as she was - wasn’t so funny. She had an arrogance that oozed her blue-blood upbringing (a woman with thick, shining dark hair and heavily hooded eyes, who was sitting in the chained chair as though it were a throne). She spoke in a grandiose fashion at times (”You dare speak his name with your unworthy lips, you dare besmirch it with your half-blood’s tongue…“) and before her imprisonment was calm and self-assured in her fervor (“The Dark Lord will rise again, Crouch! Throw us into Azkaban; we will wait!”).
- There’s only a few times we really see her lose composure - when someone has insulted Voldemort (“He dares - he dares - ’ shrieked Bellatrix incoherently, ‘he stands there - filthy half-blood - “) and when she thinks Voldemort is going to be angry (‘LIAR!’ she shrieked, but he could hear the terror behind the anger now. ‘YOU’VE GOT IT, POTTER, AND YOU WILL GIVE IT TO ME! Accio prophecy! ACCIO PROPHECY!’‘).
Bellatrix should been more weighty character; she should have been terrifying rather than campy; she should have commanded a sense of real power as Voldemort’s
second-in-command. And I didn’t get any of that from her movie adaption. :)