Honoring the Heroine: Fleur Delacour

Well, back to my usual method of picking one scene per book – naturally only from book 4 onward, since Fleur isn’t introduced beforehand. But first lets talk about the book itself.

This is the last one of the series which really has a working mystery, but arguably the last time most of the readers are thoroughly mislead. JKR doesn’t make it easy this time around, and proofs herself to be a master of deflection. There is the scene in which Snape accuses Harry of stealing ingredients which are usually used for polyjuice poison. This important information is immediately deflected since Harry mistakenly believes that Snape is referring to  Hermione stealing from his storeroom in their second year.

Then there is the moment in which Harry sees the name Barty Crouch on the marauders map. We later learn about Barty Crouch’s son in great detail, but the story is sold as some background on the character of Barty Crouch senior and not a big arrow pointing in the direction of Barty Crouch junior.

And finally there are countless moments in which Moody acts odd, but similar to the way Ginny’s odd behaviour gets dismissed as part of her crush in book 2, Moody’s behaviour is claimed to be part of his overall craziness. That he seemingly helps Harry to survive the tournament is another aspect which deflects suspicion of him. Though that is the point at which the book is flawed. There is no real explanation why Barty Crouch junior couldn’t simply put a portkey in Harry’s hands at any time.

Nevertheless, it is another favourite of mine (but then most books in the series are in one way or another), mainly because it broadens the Wizard World considerably. In the first book we mainly got to know the basics, meaning Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. In the second book we get a glimpse of Knockturn Alley. In the third Hogsmead is introduced. But in the fourth we suddenly get a glimpse of a giant world which is still left to explore. There are foreign wizards who want to ride on carpets, there are other wizard schools, other governments, you suddenly realize how much there is left to explore.

It also marks the second time in which Harry looses. He gets away with his life, but Voldemort is back, Cedric is dead and he himself is badly traumatized by the experience. The book also sets up the notion that the government (Fudge) is set on denying the danger Voldemort poses. But the book ends nevertheless on a somewhat positive note by showing new friendships which have been formed.

The movie actually manages to translate that notion perfectly on screen. Unlike other fans I was never really bothered by how much of the story was cut from the movie. Are the Dursleys really that important in that instalment? No, they aren’t. Do we really need to see the game during the Quidditch World Cup? Certainly not. But we also didn’t need an overly long scene in which the dragon chases Harry all over Hogwarts. This scene was the first time I got the feeling that the Harry Potter movies were getting derailed, that the director was not confident in the audience enjoying good character interaction an a layered story.

This thinking also shows in the way the clues pointing towards Moody are added into a story. The movie is as subtle as a brick, going so far as outright telling the audience twice (once through Snape and once through Myrtle) that someone is using polyjuice in Hogwarts. In fact, Harry comes off as a little stupid because he simply ignores those hints.

The third movie also marks the first time it feels like the movie left out something truly important. There were detail in earlier movies (mostly relating to the backstory of the marauders), but here they just skipped over the point that Fudge outright allowed the Dementors to suck out the soul of Barty Crouch Jr. He more or less committed a murder because he didn’t want to hear the truth about Voldemort. That is pretty dark.

The fourth movie is also the point at which the director obviously started to ship Harry and Hermione, even though the books clearly went in another direction, while at the same time turns Ron more into a hanger-on. The conflict between Ron and Harry is ugly, but in the book it is explained very well why Ron reacts the way he does, while pointing out how difficult it truly is to stand in the shadow of Harry Potter. In the movie he comes off like a jerk.

Unlike with the other movies, I couldn’t really find something in this one which improved on the book. But there is one thing the movie nevertheless deals very well with: The Yule Ball. To be precise, the end of it when Hermione sinks down on the steps and the camera pans over a couple of girls crying over one heart-break or another. It might look like a cliché, but in this case, it is reality. I was on one ball or another in my youth and there was always some sort of “broken heart” corner somewhere. This aspect is missing in the book, in which Hermione’s perfect evening ends in anger, but not in tears. At least not where Harry can see them.

Banner-HP-Fleur

But enough about the movie, let’s discuss some Fleur scenes:

Book 4: Fleur’s reaction to Gabrielle’s rescue

In the book: After Harry helps Gabrielle during the second task, Fleur thanks him and Ron for rescuing her.

In the movie: The scene is more or less identical.

Why I like this scene: Even though there isn’t much of a difference between the book and the movie version, I think the scene has a bigger impact in the book. Because there we already got countless scenes which established Fleur as a snobbish and supposedly shallow character. But not a mean one. And here she shows that she has her priorities straight. Winning a tournament is for her only secondary as long as her sister is safe.

Book 5: The name drop

In the book: Ron remarks that Fleur is now working at Gringotts and has gotten close his brother.

In the movie: Fleur isn’t mentioned

Why I like this scene: There really wasn’t much to choose from. It is the only time Fleur is even mentioned. But it does accomplish an important task, setting up the future relationship between Fleur and Bill early on.

Book 6: Fleur telling Molly off

In the book: After Bill is badly hurt and scarred, Molly assumes that there won’t be a wedding now. Fleur angrily protests that a few scars would not keep Bill from marrying her. When Molly reacts confused she proceeds to announce that she not only doesn’t care that Bill isn’t beautiful anymore, she even considers the scars as a sign of his bravery and something to be proud of.

In the movie: Not only is the scene missing, Bill doesn’t even turn up before the seventh movie, and his scars are never explained.

Why I like the scene: This is easily Fleur’s best moment in the whole series. In a way she doesn’t just tell off Molly, she tells off everyone who ever assumed that just because a female is beautiful, she is also shallow. Sure, she is snobbish. Sure, she can be insulting. But then, Molly hasn’t exactly be nice to her either. It must have been hurt that every guest during the Christmas celebration got a jumper with the exception of her. It also can’t be easy that other females tend to dislike her on sight because their boyfriends react to her Veela charm. But Fleur herself, she doesn’t really believe in outer beauty. As always, she has her priorities straight.

Book 7:  Fleur pretends to be Harry

In the book: When the Order of the Phoenix comes to fetch Harry, Fleur is one of the members pretending to be him.

In the movie: She barely gets any screen time, but she is present in the scene.

Why I like this scene: In general, the scene is very funny, and a large reason why it is so amusing, are Fleur’s remarks during it. But in the grander scheme of things, it shows that Fleur is no less a heroine than any other member of the order. Posing as Harry is incredible risky, and yet she does it, fighting in a war which doesn’t even rage in her own country.

Final thoughts: There are some aspects which bother me about Fleur. I always wanted her to do better in the Triwizard Tournament, but from a storytelling point of view, with Cedric having to be with Harry in the final act and Krum getting extra points from his corrupt headmaster, it makes sense that she would be lagging behind. It is also frustrating that after she marries Bill, no mention of her job at Gringotts is made. Not that I think that being a housewife is necessarily a bad thing, but Fleur was obviously ambitious. Otherwise she wouldn’t have entered her name into the tournament, or had stayed in a foreign country close to war to improve her English. There is an adventurous side to her which doesn’t really get explored.

But what I like about her character is that she essential subvert  the stereotype of the beautiful girl. The reader is invited to see her as snobbish and aloof until he suddenly sees a different side of her. But that’s not really that special. I have seen this twist beforehand. Usually, though, it turns out that the girl in question is not as snobbish as she seemed to be. That is not the case with Fleur. She still thinks highly of her French culture and is quick to judge everything what is different. But she nevertheless turns out to be likable, despite her flaws.  Because she is more than just beautiful. She is also smart (otherwise the goblet wouldn’t have chosen her), brave and ready to stand up what she perceives to be right.

Quote: “What do I care how ‘e looks? I am good-looking enough for both of us, I theenk!”

Well, I have discussed the movies, the books, the best fanfiction…let’s talk about Pottermore this time around. The Website is a lot of fun, but above all it offers a lot of new information. What I appreciate the most is that the creators took care to never show the faces of the characters. So, if you have a little bit of extra-time on your hand, it certainly doesn’t hurt to register.

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12 thoughts on “Honoring the Heroine: Fleur Delacour

  1. This is one of my least favorite of the movies and books because I think it gets too melodramatic in the tournament with the maze and Cedric. I think it all picks up a lot in the 5th book. I also think it is strange the way we see all these other schools and nations of wizardry and yet we never really see any of them again. Why don’t some of these other nations come and help defeat Voldemort? Always seemed strange to me. Anyway, it’s still Harry Potter but next to 7 pt 1 it is my 2nd least favorite movie. My least favorite book. I feel like a lot of non-essential stuff happens to get to one moment with Harry facing Voldemort and Cedric dying that does matter. Anyway, I’m no expert but that’s just my feeling. Interesting to read yours.

    • I think the Yule Ball is actually a really important moment in the series, for multiple reasons. As is introducing Rita Skeeter as a character. But I see your point. The fourth book is a little bit self-indulgent.

  2. Good article, but I have a nit-pick with this line: “The conflict between Ron and Harry is ugly, but in the book it is explained very well why Ron reacts the way he does, while pointing out how difficult it truly is to stand in the shadow of Harry Potter. In the movie he comes off like a jerk.”

    I always found Ron to be a jerk in the book too. Sure, I know that he had his insecurities. He had five older brothers to compete with, and he was never going to be anything but a second banana to Harry. But after being Harry’s friend for three years, he should have known that his life wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies. Harry was a neglected and unloved orphan, while Ron had both his parents alive. And sure, Ron’s family was always poor. But we all know that Harry would given up his fortune without a second though, if that could have brought him his parents back. And at no point had Harry asked for his fame, or for being the “chosen one”. Of course, Ron did come around after a while. But he was not a good friend to Harry at that point.

    • But they did bother what Ron’s real reasons for reacting the way he does are (which I consider understandable). The explanation isn’t in the movie, which makes a huge difference.

  3. Pingback: Fiery Yet Flowery: Fleur Delacour at Ottawa Comiccon – SEL

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