J.K. Rowling Fought For McGonagall’s Fight
by Jamie Frevele | 11:42 am, November 2nd, 2011
“I don’t like the marginalization of women when the fighting breaks out. We get to fight too. I really wanted that. In the book, Minerva McGonagall is the one who does it and for me it was very important that she did that.” — J.K. Rowling, on fighting the decision to pit Harry Potter against Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 instead of McGonagall, who fought Snape in the book. Can you even picture it any other way? Of course it had to be McGonagall!
Much like seeing Yoda grab a lightsaber and fight in the Star Wars prequels, seeing Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith) take a stand against the Hogwarts takeover by the Ministry and face off against Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) was a big, badass moment in the Harry Potter series. Sure, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) fought his share of battles and would have probably relished the chance to fight Snape (before finding out what his motivations really were). But by having McGonagall fight Snape showed that this had stopped being just Harry’s war. It also showed that Rowling write female characters who were equally effective warriors.
But an early draft of the screenplay (written by Steve Kloves) took McGonagall out of the equation, giving Harry the chance to battle his nemesis. This would have added yet another emotional layer to Harry finding out the truth about Snape, and while that would have made us cry even more than we did, Rowling wasn’t having that one bit. This was a chance for McGonagall to flex her decades of magical expertise and show that she would stop at nothing to protect the dignity and honor of Hogwarts, even if it meant fighting the new headmaster, even when the old headmaster trusted him completely, even though the new headmaster murdered the old one (even though we know why). It almost doesn’t matter that McGonagall was a woman, until suddenly she’s replaced by a male character.
While we’d never think that there was an intention to undermine female characters by replacing McGonagall with Harry in the movie (because, again, all those potential emotional layers), Rowling wrote a battle scene with a major female character proving her mettle. Because, much like the way she writes Quidditch scenes and created Hermione Granger, the author’s female characters are completely on par with their male counterparts, and their gender doesn’t even play into it. So why in the world would they ever back down during a fight?
Here is the whole interview on MTV Movies Blog:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 11. And remember, if you buy it at Target, you will also get the documentary When Harry Left Hogwarts.
(via MTV Movies Blog)