In this blog I’m going to be talking about the reason why the makers of “Harry Potter” (David Yates, 2010) decided to use animation as a visual reference to help tell “The Tale of the Three Brothers” (J.K.Rowling, 2007) instead of using live action. I will be looking at it from four different views, social, aesthetics, technological and economics to see why using animation for this short sequence was better that using live action.
“The Tale of the Three Brothers” is a short animation sequence in the film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: part 1”, directed by David Yates and released in 2010. It’s the 7th film in the Harry Potter series and the first of two cinematic parts, based on the ultimate book written by J.K Rowling. The scene in question starts off with Hermione reading from a children’s fairy tale book named “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”, by Beedle the Bard. Published sometime in the 15th century in the wizarding world stated in the Harry Potter book, Hermione is given the book by Albus Dumbledore and reads it out to the other characters as they are on their quest to find and destroy horcruxes. As she gets into the story, the image changes from a CGI bird flying in a live action scene to an animated world where Hermione’s words are illustrated in the animated images on screen.
This animated sequence was directed by Ben Hibon and made by the VFX house Framestore. Ben Hibon graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and worked for four years as a creative director before moving into directing. He worked for MTV Europe and Asia and in 2007 worked with Sony1. When he was approached by David Yates, the director, they were all unsure on how the sequence should look and make the audience feel. In the book from which the movie is based, this part in the scene where Hermione is reading is over two pages long, and having an actor speak for the length of time it would take to read out the story would be very daring, as there is the risk of the audience getting bored and losing interest, and ultimately lose the point of the story. David found a very good solution for this by making a short animation sequence illustrate the words Hermione reads out.
Hibon states in an interview with Animation World Network that they had to be careful as not to break from the flow of the film so they made a very stylised and imaginative sequence without drawing us out of the movie, “…it was not about creating artifice but throwing the audience into a narrative”2. As Hibon explains in the interview, he didn’t want the audience to be tricked into this sequence being different and unattached from the movie. He would rather, for us, as the audience, to flow seamlessly from live action straight into the animation so that it was believable and felt like it belonged as a new way to tell stories. We are made to believe that if the wizards from Harry Potter were animated, that would be how they would look and the classic fairy tale told with the aid of animation gives more impact to the audience than if the director had chosen live action.
1 Ben Hibon. (2007). Ben Hibon Biography. Available: http://www.nexusproductions.com/directors/ben-hibon. Last accessed 5th may 2014.
2 Bill Desowitz. (2010). Shadow Play with ‘Potter’’s Tale of Three Brothers . Available: http://www.awn.com/animationworld/shadow-play-potters-tale-three-brothers. Last accessed 5th may 2014.