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Harry Potter Film: Changed Peter Pettigrew’s Death?


Harry Potter film changes Peter Pettigrew’s death to make it less frightening but loses some of the stories in the process.

Harry Potter Film

The death of Peter Pettigrew in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 differed from the book. Here’s why the seventh film altered a sequence from J.K. Rowling’s novel. Part 1 of Deathly Hallows contains about two-thirds of the material in the final volume. Beginning with Harry’s escape from Privet Drive and concluding with the death of Dobby the house-elf after a near-captivity escape in Malfoy Manor. However, just before Dobby’s demise. Another major character, Peter Pettigrew, called Wormtail, left the narrative for good.

In both the novel and the film, the events leading up to Pettigrew’s death are the same. Harry, Ron, and a few other companions are imprisoned in Malfoy’s cellar. Harry chooses to call for aid using the surviving fragment of a magical mirror. (provided to Harry by his late godfather, Sirius Black). Dobby came to the rescue, assisting the group in devising a plot to escape the cellar and save Hermione, who was being tormented by Bellatrix Lestrange.

The contrasts between the novel and the film emerge after Dobby makes a ruckus. Prompting Lestrange to send Pettigrew down to the cellar to check on the hostages. Pettigrew’s death is primarily played for comedic relief in the film. As he enters the cellar and is hit with a spell from behind by Dobby, mumbling a quiet “ow” as he falls face-first.

It nearly makes it uncertain whether or not Pettigrew dies. Except that the character is never seen again after the fall. In the novel, Pettigrew attempts to strangle Harry but hesitates, which the charmed hand (given to him by Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) sees as weakness.

Pettigrew was then strangled to death by the magical hand. The version featured in the seventh harry otter film was inspired by Pettigrew’s book death, which was judged too horrific for younger moviegoers.


Harry Potter Film Peter Pettigrew

While the film’s makers may have been trying to safeguard younger audiences. They did a disservice to Harry and Wormtail’s plot arc. The scene was place in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when Harry opted to prevent Sirius Black from murdering Pettigrew and instead let him live.

This also gave Pettigrew the opportunity to flee and rejoin Voldemort. In the novel Deathly Hallows, Harry reminded Pettigrew of his life debt to Harry, which caused him to hesitate.

Voldemort’s magical hand may have understood that having a servant with a life debt to Voldemort’s deadliest adversary was hazardous. So it erased the threat, sparing Harry’s life in the process.

Aside from the severity of this killing, which may shock young viewers. The producers may have thought they were asking too much of moviegoers to recall Harry’s kindness for Pettigrew in the third film. They may have also been concerned about offending those audience members who hadn’t read the novels. Despite the fact that the movies depicted Harry’s sympathy for Pettigrew.


By changing Pettigrew’s death in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. The filmmakers diminished J.K. Rowling’s attention to detail in her writing. Also missed an opportunity to demonstrate how Harry’s capacity to do the right thing paid off later in life.



What do you think?

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  1. I could say I am a huge fan when it comes to Harry Potter! I’ve done reading the books and watching the whole 7 series twice already lol. I do agree there’s a lot of difference when comparing the movies to the books. I also feel like some scenes in the HP movie seem to be off and not connecting with the original content at all. Overall, I still prefer the detailed work of JK Rowling, it help people understand more accurately with the plot in my opinion.

  2. I have not read this far in the series (I’m only on book 3) nor have I seen this particular movie but I can understand your frustration.  The moviemakers seem to always “dumb down” their scripts.  Perhaps, in this case, it’s because they assume that the moviegoers think these are kids’ movies, despite the fact that it’s well known that the books were written to grow up right alongside their readers and so should the movies.  Perhaps, as you say, it’s because the moviemakers assume that viewers wouldn’t remember what had happened in previous movies.  Whatever the reason, it’s disappointing.

  3. Very good observations here! I read the Harry Potter series up to the Half-Blood Prince, but I never read the Deathly Hallows. I only ever saw the films. While the fact that they chose to split the final film into 2 parts probably helped create a more faithful and complete adaptation of the book, I can imagine that aspects and nuances of the narrative were still changed and cut. 

    In retrospect, this frustrated me a bit, now that I think about it, especially as the books became more complex and lengthy, the movies it seems did not faithfully keep up. 

    My favorite book was probably the Order of the Phoenix (the introduction and demise of Umbridge has always stuck in my mind), while that was one of my least favorites of the movies.

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