Way back in 2008 when it was first announced that the long-awaited and highly-anticipated movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows would be split into two parts, I remember meeting the news with both confusion and excitement. Confusion because splitting one book into two movies was pretty much a new and unknown idea, and excitement because we’d be getting another two and a half hour Harry Potter movie. Earlier this year when it was announced that the final book in the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant,would be split into two parts, I met the news with a groan and an extended “Whyyyyyyyyy?” It’s not that I’m not looking forward to seeing Allegiant on the big screen (it was perhaps my favourite of the trilogy, surprisingly!), and it’s not that I’m not a fan of the Divergent movie (which is maybe one of the best YA book-to-movie adaptations I’ve seen). So, what changed for me over the course of the six years?
For me, when we got the two-part Deathly Hallows, it seemed fitting. We’d already spent a decade with the Harry Potter Series, and seeing how the movies had gone, and how much was unfortunately left out, it was almost magical that we’d have five hours instead of two and a half in which to tell the final part of the series. In 2008 when the split was first announced, David Heyman (producer of all eight Harry Potter movies) had this to say in regards to the decision;
“Over ten years ago, we made a commitment to Jo Rowling that, above all else, we would be faithful and true to the spirit of her books, and ever since we have endeavored never to compromise on the creative ambitions of the films. The Deathly Hallows is so rich, the story so dense and there is so much that is resolved that after discussing it with Jo, we came to the conclusion that two parts were needed to do it justice”
The part I want to highlight is that bit at the end; Heyman believed that two movies were needed to do the book justice. And so, I have to ask; are two movies really needed to do Allegiant justice? I’m not trying to say that I’m completely against the decision, and I’ll be going to the theatre to see both parts, it just seems strange to me. Alllegiant isn’t a huge book, it’s no longer than Divergent—which saw movie success without cutting too much out of it for the adaptation. A lot happens in Allegiant, but it happens in a linear and easy-to-follow way. While Deathly Hallows had a few different stories weaving together at the climax of the book, Allegiant doesn’t. One single movie seems like perfectly enough time to reflect the book, enough time for the story to be there while keeping up an action-y pace, never letting the movie slow down and drag on.
Other franchises have seen the same Finale-Split; Breaking Dawn ended the Twilight Saga shortly after Harry Potter with a two-parter, and looking at the length and extent of story within the book, it’s easy to see why it was split. I was initially concerned by the news of The Hobbit being split into two, the short book that it is, and was amazed to see it eventually go to THREE movies, but what Peter Jackson has done with The Hobbit movies is fantastic. Mockingjay being split is one that takes thought, but makes sense; a lot goes on outwith Katniss in Mockingjay (the book), and having two movies seems like a perfect way to flesh out the story which many readers felt too-rushed and too-thin. I am trying to remain hopeful that the decision to split Allegiant will be a good one, but honestly, I just really don’t want to see what could potentially be an epic finale to an epic series being given a less-than-epic ending by unnecessarily splitting the book into two parts.
Ever since Deathly Hallows, the news of a final-book-in-a-series being split into two has been slightly less exciting, and after seeing so many it’s starting to feel less like we’re getting a good thing, and more like the studio is trying to make more money. In the end, personally, I try to believe that studios are trying to replicate Heyman and Warner Bros’ original ideas of staying faithful to not only the spirit of the book, but the series as a whole. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.