By Christopher Campbell | Spout November 17, 2010 at 8:14AM
This shouldn't spoil anything for you if you haven't yet seen part 1 of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," as it concerns a totally inconsequential line in a relatively uneventful (though overall crucial) moment in the film. In fact, the lack of importance is such that its inclusion in the film is part of why I'm writing about it. A little past the midway point Hermione (Emma Watson) reads to Harry and Ron (Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint) a fable called "The Tale of the Three Brothers" -- which is adapted in the film as a great little animated sequence, one of the highlights of this installment. Before the animation begins, Hermione recites the beginning line of the story: "There were once three brothers who were traveling along a lonely, winding road at twilight..." Ron interrupts to say his mother would say "midnight" when reading to him as a kid. Hermione gets annoyed, prompting Ron to give in and say:
"Twilight is fine, better actually."
Due to the way it's said and depicted, the line rings out as if it has some significance, though contextually its prominence is totally unnecessary. Or, maybe it just rang out to me because I unfortunately can't hear or think of the simple word "twilight" without thinking of "Twilight," the vampire franchise that is considerably the closest thing to a "Harry Potter"-like phenomenon there is right now. I'm not the only person for whom this is the case, however, and I've already seen mention of the line in reviews and forums, usually to wonder if the makers of "Deathly Hallows" intended for it to be a little jab and wink at that other -- some might say competing -- franchise.
The line is in J.K. Rowling's book, too, and that was published back in 2007, after Stephanie Meyers' "Twilight" books became a hit, though still prior to it's peak success and popularity. Regardless, there's no way Rowling meant the word choice as reference to the other series. I'm sure "twilight" is mentioned many times throughout the "Harry Potter" books (and the real-world version of "The Tales of Beedle the Bard," in which the "Three Brothers" tale is reprinted), if only because it seems the lead trio always was getting up to something or other at that time of night. I can see at least one other employment of the word in the "Deathly Hallows" novel, used innocently for descriptive purposes concerning a scene's setting. Therefore, in its origins, the dialogue and its ironic tribute to "Twilight" as a "better" property are entirely a coincidence.
But let's get back to how unnecessary the line is. Never mind that it provides tension between Ron and Hermione. There's plenty of that going on anyway without the need for this specific exchange. The film could have excluded it and just gone right into the animated sequence as Hermione began reading the story. However, I think everyone from adapting screenwriter Steve Kloves to director Peter Yates to the cast and crew had to have identified some humor in not only keeping but seemingly emphasizing it's utterance. I bet it's a knowing wink at the audience, though subtle enough to not come off too distractingly.
That said, I now have to wonder if another potentially allusive line was intended as such, especially given that I can't seem to find it in the book. Unfortunately I can't recall which female characters says it (Luna?), but late in the movie someone does say, "Harry, you're my only hope." Or, maybe I fell asleep and dreamed Princess Leia was there.