Every fan of the Harry Potter books has gone through the pain of witnessing the movies butcher the story—and the characters. One of the characters most harshly treated by the movies is Harry’s best friend, Ron Weasley, who is so thrashed that fans have no choice but to draw a great chasm of a line between book!Ron and movie!Ron.
However, there’s some good that can be taken from this. Writers and readers can learn something from the way that the movies chose to treat Ron. So, that in mind, let’s take a look at 3 Problems With Movie Ron Weasley.
If you wanna get technical, this is three aspects of one problem, but I do like my clarity. And my lists.
1. He’s Demoted to Comic Relief
Harry Potter has funny characters. It has a lot of funny characters. In fact, every member of the Golden Trio is funny in their own way. Hermione is sharp, and everyone who’s read the books knows about the goldmine of sarcasm that the movies missed out on. (Poor Harry.) Ron, though, went through a similar treatment to Gimli and got downgraded to comic relief.
Take the Devil’s Snare scene from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. In this scene, Harry, Ron, and Hermione, in an attempt to get to the Philosopher’s Stone before Snape, drop through a trapdoor towards it and get stuck in a cluster of Devil’s Snare.
“Stop moving!” Hermione ordered them. “I know what this is – it’s Devil’s Snare!”
“Oh, I’m so glad we know what it’s called, that’s a great help,” snarled Ron, leaning back, trying to stop the plant curling around his neck.
“Shut up, I’m trying to remember how to kill it!” said Hermione.
“Well, hurry up, I can’t breathe!” Harry gasped, wrestling with it as it curled around his neck.
“Devil’s Snare, Devil’s Snare … What did Professor Sprout say? It likes the dark and the damp—”
“So light a fire!”
“Yes – of course – but there’s no wood!” Hermione cried, wringing her hands.
“HAVE YOU GONE MAD?” Ron bellowed. “ARE YOU A WITCH OR NOT?”
Ron serves a number of functions in the story, and he brings more to the Golden Trio than that joke at the beginning of the extract. It’s surprising even in the context of the story, but he’s often the one who manages to keep a level head in stressful situations. He’s often giving advice. In this scene, we expect the academic Hermione to come up with a solution to the problem, but it’s Ron who reminds Hermione that she’s a witch and can use magic to make fire.
It doesn’t go that way in the movie.
It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of Ron’s character. It’s a real shame, too, because I love that scene. It shows that all the members of the Trio bring something. The movies miss out on a great character.
In one scene in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Snape takes over one of Lupin’s lessons. He asks a question, and Hermione gives an answer. In the movie, we get this:
“He’s got a point, you know.“
Which brings me to my second point.
2. Book Ron is a better friend than this!
In the same scene in the book, Ron reacts thusly:
“That is the second time you have spoken out of turn, Miss Granger,” said Snape coolly. “Five more points from Gryffindor for being an insufferable know-it-all.”
Hermione went very red, put down her hand, and stared at the floor with her eyes full of tears. It was a mark of how much the class loathed Snape that they were all glaring at him, because every one of them had called Hermione a know-it-all at least once, and Ron, who told Hermione she was a know-it-all at least twice a week, said loudly, “You asked us a question and she knows the answer! Why ask if you don’t want to be told?”
Ron has balls. There really is no other way to say it. He is more than willing to stand up for his friends, even if it means having a go at a teacher. Ron broke Harry out of the Dursleys’ house when they’d put bars on his bedroom window. In the books, it’s Ron who says “If you want to kill Harry, you’ll have to kill us too,” not Hermione.
Time and time again the movies downplay what a good friend Ron is. How brave he is. How much he loves Harry and Hermione.
In the movies, when Ron leaves Harry and Hermione in Deathly Hallows and returns home, it just sort of comes across like he’s being a sullen bastard. In the books, we understand his thought process, and it means so much when he returns.
The movies just don’t seem to care about what a good friend Ron is, and how important he is to Harry. This leads to my biggest problem with Ron’s movie portrayal.
3. The Movies Don’t Care About Ron
I want you to watch this scene from the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie. It’s a perfect example of this whole problem.
Ron’s just sitting there. He’s just off … in the background … sitting there. It’s like they knew that he had to be in the scene, but they didn’t really want him to be. It doesn’t matter that Rowling wrote a brave and funny character who’s Harry’s best friend, not to the moviemakers. Ron gets to sit in the background while all his lines are given to Hermione.
There’s this phenomenon in adaptations known as the Legolas Effect. Essentially, it’s when a character is made more badass than their book counterpart, most often at the expense of other characters. You wouldn’t think Hermione, who’s already a badass, would be subject to the Legolas Effect, but it seems to have happened. In these movies, it was at the expense of Ron. And why?
Why would the movies want a third of the Golden Trio to be nothing more than comic relief? Why would the movies want Harry’s best friend to be such a flat, empty character?
Think about who Ron actually is in the context of the story. You could argue that Hagrid is Harry’s first friend but, either way, in the early chapters of Philosopher’s Stone, Harry tells us that he doesn’t have friends. Harry’s never had any friends. Ron Weasley is the first friend his own age that Harry ever made and, as Harry himself tells us, is Harry’s best friend.
Or he could just be the dumbass who says “lucky we didn’t panic.” That works too, I guess.
Thank you for reading! If there are any other characters that you’d like me to take a look at then please let me know in the comments.