There’s a small detail in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows which people have seemingly missed – and it’s actually a pretty big deal.
Severus Snape – good guy, bad guy, bit of both?
Well, there’s a part in the film which shows a pretty heroic side to the raven-haired potions master.
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Snape – portrayed in the film by the wonderful, late Alan Rickman – and his loyalties remain a mystery to many.
Early on – and for most of the Harry Potter series – Snape appears to be Harry’s nemesis, yet Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore insists on trusting Snape.
Then, when Snape dies at the hands of Voldemort in the final chapters of the seventh book, his story is revealed: As a teenager, Snape was a close friend of Harry’s mother Lily and he turned on Voldemort when the Death Eaters killed Lily and husband James and then tried to kill Harry.
It’s at this point Snape becomes more layered, with Rowling describing him as ‘a gift of a character’.
Yet in Deathly Hallows: Part Two, there’s a moment in the film you might have missed if you weren’t paying full attention.
If you’ve seen the film, you’ll be aware Snape battles Professor McGonagall before he dies.
McGonagall fires a spell at Snape, who blocks it and appears to direct it at the Death Eaters behind him, Alecto and Amycus Carrow, which in turn, assists Harry and the Order members.
Look, right here:
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling describes Snape as ‘all grey’, making a very valid point on Twitter.
Snape is all grey. You can’t make him a saint: he was vindictive & bullying. You can’t make him a devil: he died to save the wizarding world
Snape is all grey. You can't make him a saint: he was vindictive & bullying. You can't make him a devil: he died to save the wizarding world
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) November 27, 2015
Fans can’t seem to agree and some don’t even know what to think of Snape’s character at all.
Discussing Rowling’s tweet, hundreds replied, with one commenting:
My opinion’s always been that a good deed = a good person. Snape’s sacrifice shouldn’t go unrecognised, but he wasn’t a hero. [sic]
He is one of those characters I don’t really know how i feel about. Its kind of odd I cant explain it… I like him but I don’t.
he abused children, expected lily to love him and blamed his turn to voldermort on her pic.twitter.com/WnGSgkLvyt
— emily (@valkyriestcrks) January 3, 2017
On January 14, 2016, Snape actor, Alan Rickman, died at the age of 69 in London, following a short battle with cancer.
He’d been unaware of the severity of his illness until weeks before and only told his family and friends the tragic secret, keeping it out of the public eye.
Rickman had truly brought life to Professor Snape in a way no-one else really could have.
After he completed his work on the films, Rickman wrote a letter which Empire Magazine published on Twitter.
We lost Alan Rickman two years ago today. Here's the letter he wrote after completing his work on the Harry Potter films: pic.twitter.com/Vb6MzGQTqP
— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) January 14, 2018
In the letter, he wrote:
I have just returned from the dubbing studio where I spoke into a microphone as Severus Snape for absolutely the last time.
On the screen were some flashback shots of Daniel, Emma, and Rupert from ten years ago. They were 12. I have also recently returned from New York and while I was there, I saw Daniel singing and dancing (brilliantly) on Broadway.
A lifetime seems to have passed in minutes.
Three children have become adults since a phone call with Jo Rowling, containing one small clue, persuaded me that there was more to Snape than an unchanging costume, and that even though only three of the books were out at that time, she held the entire massive but delicate narrative in the surest of hands.
It is an ancient need to be told in stories. But the story needs a great storyteller. Thanks for all of it, Jo.