There’s one thing I need to get out of the way before diving into what I would like to discuss. If you have not seen Avengers: Infinity War and do not wish to know spoilers about it (it’s better if you don’t), stop reading now and come back once you have seen the movie. I may not discuss every little bit of it, but there will be major spoilers after the cut.
Every time the Doctor regenerates, people talk about who they want to replace them. I always see things about “oh it should be this person, or this person” as well as “it better not be so-and-so.” Right now we’re on the cusp of the announcement of who is playing the 13th incarnation of the Doctor. There have been many indicators about the next Doctor is going to be a woman, which to me has sparked a lot more buzz and accompanying controversy than I have seen before. I don’t understand it.
The visuals authors describe in their novels often reaches stunning levels, particularly with fantasy fiction. With stunning backdrops to breathtaking stories, it can be hard to bring new worlds to life on screen. Sometimes, the individuals behind television shows and films decide to use studios and computer-generate imagery to bring the story locations to life. However, quite a few also choose to employ locations in our real world. Sometimes, they do not change the original location at all. Other times, they choose to enhance the real location with CGI.
Many of these adaptations show stunning locations around our world. Just looking at the pictures is enough to spark wanderlust in just about everyone.
I have compiled a list of some of the real world locations for some iconic moments in film and television adaptations of books. Let your travel bug awaken.
Alnwick Castle is located in Northumberland, England. It has appeared as a location in films and television shows many different times. Perhaps the most famous appearance, however, is as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the first two Harry Potter films. You can catch in scenes like Harry’s first flying lesson and the crash landing of the Ford Anglia.
So that is what it looks like on film, but what about when no crews are around? The castle is still majestic, of course. This is what you will see if you visit:
Mount Ngauruhoe, for those who may not know, is an active stratovolcano on the North Island of New Zealand. Its first eruption was 2500 years ago. Its latest eruption was in 1977. It is part of the Tongariro volcanic complex, and sits between Mount Tongariro to the North and Mount Ruapehu to the south. It is also close to the southern short of Lake Taupo, the volcanic caldera.
This is what it looked like in May 2015 when I stood there in New Zealand, staring at it with my own two eyes. Let me tell you, that sight took my breath away. Why? Not only is that an amazing sight in itself, but I had done research and it told me that Mount Ngauruhoe is a famous volcano, though you may not know it. Peter Jackson used this volcano in the three Lord of the Rings films as Mount Doom (though they also filmed on the slopes of Mount Ruapehu). It looked like this in the films:
Tawhai Falls is in Tongariro National Park, as are the volcanoes I just talked about. The falls are simple and many may say unassuming in the grand scheme of things. However, one of the attendants at the hotel my family stayed at (Chateau Tongariro) mentioned that we could walk to Tawhai Falls and that they were used in The Lord of the Rings as The Forbidden Pool, which is where Gollum catches his fish, sings the song, and where Frodo looks down on him with Faramir.
In real life, it looks like this:
This is what it looks like in the film:
Azure Window, Malta
I have never been to Malta, but sights like the Azure Window really make me wish to go. Of course, the fact that a portion of my heritage is Maltese may also have something to do with it. Although the Azure Window is not, as far as I am aware, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I do know that Malta has three of them, including an entire city.
So where might you have seen the Azure Window before, even if you have never been to Malta? In the ever popular Game of Thrones television series on HBO! They used it as a backdrop in the first season, for Daenerys’ and Khal Drogo’s wedding. This is what they showed onscreen:
It is not that far off from the way it looks in reality, is it? Just a bit dustier, in my view.
I could give you quote a few locations within Mdina—Malta’s Silent City—that Game of Thrones used. In the first season, Mdina was the onscreen representation for most of King’s Landing. I do not know that there is one location more important than the other, but for this article I will share one iconic one. The Mdina gates were the entrance into King’s Landing, and the location where Ned and Catelyn said goodbye.
In real life, they look like this:
In the show, they appeared like this:
There are countless real world filming locations out there, of course, and I could not include all of them on my list. I stumbled across another Lord of the Rings filming location in New Zealand (the fields of Rohan) and I very nearly included Skellig Michael Island on this list, which appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But of course, that one was not an adaptation, so I had to take it out. Nevertheless, I think this list shows just a fraction of the beauty our world contains.
Out of this list, where do you want to go the most? Have you been to one of these locations? What was it like there? I want to hear all about it! Have you visited other real world locations from your favourite films? Tell me about those ones as well!
So, here we are, with a return to the wizarding world no one could have seen coming. If you were like me, you thought your journey to the wizarding world ended with the release of the final Harry Potter movie. Any journey after that was simply a return. You were revisiting the stories and the characters, but there were no new words to digest. Sure, you may have learnt new things, but the core material was still the same.
I think this is why I was so excited about the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Everyone who knows me, even a little, knows I love Harry Potter. Those close to me have a bit of a better idea just how much. Essentially, it boils down to my belief that I would not be the person I am today had I not read the Harry Potter novels when I was young.
My love for Harry Potter, however, has made me nervous about any additional forays into that world. While I so hoped I would love The Cursed Child—I did not. So even though I was very excited for Fantastic Beasts, a small part of me was nervous that I would not like it. This, I think, would have really hurt.
I need not have worried. I was hooked from the moment the film started. The flashes, the music…the magic. I would not have changed it. Well, okay, this is not strictly true. There is one thing I might change if I could, but I am trying to enjoy this world. But I will get to that a little later.
After watching the film and reading the script, I have concluded that Eddie Redmayne was the perfect choice for Newt Scamander. I would not want to change him out for anyone. From my research since, I discovered some people wanted Matt Smith (the 11th Doctor) to play the role, but I think Newt would have appeared too much like the Doctor that way. I mean, technically those similarities still exist, but with Matt in the role they would have been overwhelming. This would have taken me out of the magic of the film if I saw Matt on the screen. I am sure he would have been good, but I would still choose Eddie over him.
Eddie disappeared into this role. When I watched the film, I was not watching him. I was watching Newt.
Newt Scamander is a wonderful character. I love his quiet, awkward nature. The way he acts around people is the way I feel, whether I show it or not. But beyond that, I love how he cares for these magical creatures. His interactions onscreen are astonishing. His kindness and desire to show other wizards they should not kill or even fear the creatures is…captivating. I need to withhold my final judgment until I see more of Newt, but at this point, I think I can safely assume he is among my favourite characters in the wizarding world. Only time will tell if he takes the top spot.
The magical creatures themselves were stunningly made. I love the Niffler—he was hilarious—as well as Pickett, the bowtruckle (there is a great moment near the end with Pickett). There are, of course, other fantastic beasts in the film. All of them live up to my imagination.
This film raised many theories both about aspects of Harry Potter canon I already know as well as about some pieces about the future of this film franchise. I will probably come up with more the longer I think about the film and, let’s face it, read the script multiple times. I am so tempted to return to the theatre to watch the film a second time—something I have never done before. The magic, my friends, was that strong.
Now for the final thing I want to mention about the movie. I would write more, but I could probably go on forever and I want to keep this as spoiler-free as possible. However, in order for me to explain the last bit well, I do have to spoil part of the film. If you do not want to know anything (though I suspect you have likely seen the movie if you are still reading), stop now (do not scroll past the picture).
A few days before I saw the film, I found out that Johnny Depp would be in the movie in a mystery role. Of course, as we know, the role was revealed not long after. This is where the spoiler comes: Johnny Depp is playing Gellert Grindelwald. From what I gather, this will be quite the big role in the remaining four Fantastic Beasts films. This one took place in 1926, and I heard these films will take us to 1945. If that year sounds important to you in terms of the Harry Potter universe, it should. That is the year Dumbledore defeated Grindelwald. So, I imagine the backdrop behind all of these films will be of Grindelwald and the wizarding war he caused.
I have no issues with Grindelwald being in the films. The issue I have is with Johnny Depp’s casting. I have been a fan of his work—particularly Pirates of the Caribbean—in the past, but there are still two issues. One, I am struggling with how to react and what to believe regarding the media storm with him and Amber Heard. My feelings on that are too complicated to discuss here, but I know they have at least made me a little uncomfortable with him in these movies, regardless of the true story behind the media storm.
The other thing is I am nervous about how his style of acting will apply to Grindelwald as a character. As another dark wizard, I see him as being quite similar to Lord Voldemort, and I just do not see Depp as a good fit for Grindelwald as Ralph Fiennes was as Voldemort. With all of this said though, I am hopeful I do not see Johnny Depp on my screen when I watch the future Fantastic Beasts films. I hope I only see Grindelwald, a terrifying dark wizard.
Have you seen Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them yet? What did you think of it? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
I have a complicated relationship with the onscreen adaptations of the books I have read. Just remembering how they treated Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is appalling to me. However, I have since come to realize that I have to treat the adaptations as their own thing. They cannot mean the same to me, otherwise I will never be happy with what I see on screen.
So with that said, I still carefully consider the adaptations I see onscreen. My first rule, of course, is that I need to read the book before watching the movie, if I know ahead of time that a particular movie is an adaptation. I do also like to see how well they have translated the book onto the screen, whether it is a literal translation or simply translating the essence of the book. I had to expand it to include the essence, because as I have said I need to treat the book and the movie as separate things and sometimes something in the book cannot be done literally for one reason or another.
Without further ado, I would like to present you with my top book to movie adaptations (in no particular order). I would like to note that I am not grouping together major series, but rather picking my favourite adaptation from the series. Make sense? Let’s go!
The Return of the King
I think that all three of the movies are good, but I find The Return of the King comes out on top when I think about all three. It surprises me a little, since it has the most to live up to in my opinion, since the final volume is my favourite in the books. However, it also does not surprise me.
One of the major things I love is how Peter Jackson chose to intersplice the stories. You may not remember, but in the books Tolkien essentially split his books into two parts per volume. So in The Return of the King, we had Frodo and Sam’s story told in one half, and the rest in the other. In the film, Peter Jackson chose to shorten the moments and flit between them more often. While this can get confusing in certain cases, it did not in The Return of the King. The best thing it did, in my opinion, was to avoid spoiling parts of the future for the other side of the story.
Of course I cannot pass up the opportunity to talk about Éowyn again. The way they handled her shining moment in battle, along with the build up to it, was amazing. Of course, it is not quite like the book version of events, but I rather enjoyed the way they did it anyways.
The Princess Bride
I think that The Princess Bride is one of the ones perfect for adapting. You may not know this, but the book version of it actually has the author integrated into the story. He notes that his grandfather only told him the interesting parts of the story and left out the “boring” bits. As such, he created an abridged version of the book, which fits really good with a movie version. There are, of course, still some differences, but I still think that the movie works.
You have so many iconic lines in the book, many of which appear almost exactly in the film version. You actually do not get that much anymore in films. If you are lucky, you might get one line. It is not necessary, of course, but I think it shows quality when the film manages to keep exact lines while maintaining the pace an essence of a written story.
The Green Mile
I remember I saw this film years ago, and I do not remember the book much. I am actually not sure if I read it? I must have though. I guess I should take the time to do so again?
The sheer emotion in this film is astounding. The story, if you are not aware, is about a corrections officer in 1935 and what he saw on death row. The supernatural element to this adaptation is handled quite well. I liked how the movie itself was long, I think just over three hours, because a lot of time passes in the story. It makes things seem more real than if they had tried to back everything in two hours or less. Honestly, you should give this movie a shot. You will not regret it.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Out of all the films in the Harry Potter series, I think that they did the best with The Prisoner of Azkaban. I would have picked the two Deathly Hallows films, but it would not be fair to count them on this list. I would have to treat them separately, and I do not believe either would make it as one half of a story.
I think that the only significant flaw in this film is how they treated the Firebolt portion of the story. In the books, it comes into play earlier rather than right at the end. It gives the Trio some conflict and other portions of the story develop from that. However, the visuals in this film and the way Alfonso (the director) presents the rest of the story make up for most of that. I love how they show the Whomping Willow, the Dementors, freezing flowers, et cetera.
I am sure that I could pick others for this list, but I thought I would cap it there. Keep in mind that I have not seen every single adaptation, and because of that there could be some gems on this list. I would love to get some recommendations on new things to read and watch! Make sure you provide the information for the book, because as I said, I like to read them first.