‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’–Still an Epic Film Twelve Years Later

Nov 18, 2017

Posted by: Dawn Johnson

Directors, Events, Fandom, Fans, Films, Fun, Gambon, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling, Movies, Newell, News

It’s hard to believe 12 years have passed since Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire opened in theaters. The book had come out a little over three years earlier. Eager fans were already well-acquainted with the plot and, by that time, anxious to meet their beloved favorites again on the big screen. Following the storyline magically crafted by J.K. Rowling, the film managed to broaden our experience of the wizarding world considerably–and on an epic scale.

Mike Newell helmed the fourth installment in the series, taking over from Alfonso Cuaron, who was busy with post-production work on the Prisoner of Azkaban. It was the longest book yet, nearing the 800-page mark, allowing Rowling to take her time re-introducing the framework of the plot and carefully setting the stage for a host of new characters and intricate story arcs. This provided a wealth of source material–and made it the most challenging of the first four films to adapt.


Rather than divide the story into two parts, as some suggested, Newell opted to produce one film, which eventually clocked in at 2 hours and 37 minutes. In order to make it work, he had to make many editorial decisions which fans continue to debate. Even the smallest cut would have long-lasting and irrevocable ramifications to the mind of the avid reader.

For instance, the not-so-calmly uttered line heard round the world. There was collective shock and dismay when viewers first witnessed an openly-angry Dumbledore bare down upon Harry after snatching his name from the fiery cup. Many continue to hold this against Michael Gambon, though Newell, as director, is almost assuredly equally responsible for the decision to play the scene in that way. Reams of parchment could be filled with arguments over it, but one thing seems evident, and it eases the sting considerably.


The Goblet of Fire exposed Harry to life-threatening dangers and evil such as those he had not yet faced before. The book had over 700 pages to build up to those moments, to thoroughly develop each relationship, to set up the risks of every task he faced and make exceptionally clear just how far in over his head he truly was. His natural skill and ingenuity notwithstanding–participating in the Triwizard Tournament was no cakewalk, and it made sense that Newell wanted to establish very early on exactly how serious a situation Harry was in. He didn’t have the luxury of doing that slowly, and he needed to pack an emotional punch that would resonate and cause fans to take note–this is not game.


Michael Gambon’s unexpectedly brash take on that moment plunged fans into the story with a sense of urgency, allowing Newell to ride the wave of that momentum through each task, building the tension on our awareness that even Dumbledore was anxious and concerned. Given that this was a man rarely flustered and unequaled in magical prowess, it made fans lean into the film, absorbing every minute on the way to the climax of Voldemort’s return–the payoff for the uneasiness Newell wisely injected into the story. Dumbledore’s suspicions were well-founded!


And along the way Newell took advantage of the grand scope of that journey to create a wizarding epic that blew the previous installments out of the water. Fans were swept up in the magic and excitement of the Quidditch World Cup and treated to incredible visuals of a stadium reaching toward the sky, a display rivaled only by the delightful flamboyance of the Irish and Bulgarian teams flying into the arena and whipping the spectators into a frenzy.


We were introduced to the Death Eaters and saw the fearsome Dark Mark burning emerald green into the night sky. There was palpable fear and terror unlike that felt in the earlier films. It was widespread and panicked. It stalked its prey and stampeded over it. This upped the stakes and reminded fans that the story wasn’t just about Harry. It was also about the future of wizard-kind.


Newell charmed us with his vision of the other wizarding schools, further expanding the world beyond London and Hogwarts. Our hearts thumped in our chests with every Durmstrang staff that struck the floor, and we thrilled when the veela of Beauxbatons danced into the Great Hall, as if on air, immediately empathizing with Ron’s infatuation.


The film not only showed Harry facing greater tests of the will, but it also played out his first test of the heart, letting us glimpse, as sympathetic bystanders, his growing awareness of Cho Chang and his extremely-relatable awkward inability to do anything about it.


It also gave us the first true test of the trio’s friendship. With Ron and Harry at odds over his inclusion in the tournament, we got to experience the frustration of both and see (with our own eyes) how exasperatingly thick-headed they both were. This foreshadowed the trials that would threaten their bond in the future, as they struggled together, and individually, with Harry’s destiny. Yet it also showed the strength of their friendship and how they would come through for each other in the end!


From exotic dragons to the depths of the Black Lake; from the ice-encrusted floor of the Yule Ball to the heart of the enchanted maze; from the battlefield of Riddle’s graveyard to the grip of Priori Incantatum to the agonizing reality of tragedy and loss, the Goblet of Fire brought the story of Harry Potter to life on an immersive and epic scale that captured the imagination of fans around the world–and has continued to do so to this day.

So in celebration of the anniversary of the film’s release, why not revisit Harry’s fourth year at Hogwarts this weekend and remember all the parts of Goblet of Fire that first charmed you all those years ago!

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.