In the last fifteen years Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings have been the leaders in the fantasy film movement. The use of magic and witchcraft has grabbed audiences out of their seats and into the worlds of Harry and Frodo. The fantasy aspect of these films is just the outer layer. Under the surface of these stories there usually is a deeper meaning. Within this meaning the plot, characters, setting, conflicts, themes, symbols, and metatruths create fiction.
Movies of fiction often have similarities, but Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings uses the elements of fiction in their own specific ways. Both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings have a similar plot. Harry is a young boy who really doesn’t have anything going for him, but becomes the hero. Equally, Frodo, a young hobbit, then becomes the being responsible for destroying the ring to save Middle Earth. A difference between the two main heroes would be that Frodo does have his Uncle to live up too. Bilbo Baggins, the main character of The Hobbit, who has also, went out on a mysterious adventure when he was younger.
Because of Bilbo, Frodo is held responsible for the Ring. Both films have a character that is known as the “bad guy” or enemy. Harry’s enemy is Voldemort who must steal the Sorcerer’s Stone to be able to live as one again. In Lord of the Rings, Sauron strives to obtain the ring to become powerful. With both films having a hero and enemy, this makes them a ‘good versus evil’ theme. Thus making the plotline similar in both stories, which is that someone who is evil is trying to take from someone good. Although its makes their plots somewhat similar, other conflicts in each makes them unique.
In Harry Potter, Harry is put in the middle of a quest that he faces evil. He’s never given the opportunity to say no and live a normal life. Throughout his quest he finds out his destiny. This can be a similarity with Frodo from Lord of the Rings. Frodo is given the quest to that is the most important thing anyone has been obliged to doing. A similarity is that they both eventually come to realize and understand their paths. Frodo’s is to destroy the ring before anyone obtains it so evil can be destroyed. The difference in conflict in the two films is to where the conflict effects.
In Harry Potter, Hogwarts is the only area affected by the conflict. The difference in the two is that Lord of the Rings involves all of their earth, Middle Earth. This means that Frodo holds the fates of the whole world while Harry is just the fate of people living at Hogwarts. The best way that conflict is depicted is by using another element of fiction which is the behaviors of the characters in their film. The difference in the characters of each film is the awareness aspect. In Lord of the Rings, all characters understand of the good verse evil which is throughout their land.
This means that each character has a specific side they are on. For example Aragon or Gandalf represent good. Gandalf can be depicted as Professor Dumbledore in Harry Potter, because both become a mentor of each films main hero. Also, Voldemort and Sauron play a similar role in their film. They both are the leaders of evil and strive to defeat good. In Harry Potter, all characters are not aware of the evil brewing within Hogwarts. Making characters come across as neutral or not sure of which side to choose.
A comparison with the two films characters is that both have a close friend group. The difference with the two friend groups is that in Harry Potter, Harry, Ron, and Hermoine did not know each other prior to Hogwarts. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo and his hobbit friends have been the best of friends for their whole lives. Throughout the two films, situations arise that test the loyalty of the friend groups, but in the end they prevail and grow in strength. Probably the biggest difference in the elements of fiction between the two films is the setting of each.
Probably the only similarity between the two is that they both take place in a fictional world. Where creatures haunt the lands and magic is accepted. The differences begin with Harry Potter taking place first in London at the Dursley’s house. This is where the story of the young boy Harry Potter begins. The setting swiftly moves then to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Hogwarts is where Harry and others can use magic freely but still must be safe in using it. Hogwarts is the setting for all the exciting adventures in which Harry and company embark on.
On the other hand, Lord of the Rings setting is always and set in Middle Earth. Races and beings of all kinds reside here and are for or against evil. Middle Earth is drastically different then Hogwarts. Both show magic and fantasy in their own unique way of doing so. Setting between both films may be the most opposite, themes go hand and hand with both films. The choices that characters make in their respective film mirror themes. Because these two films begin their series, both cannot fully finish some of the major themes (Good versus Evil).
Although this is true, the stopping of Voldemort and Professor Quirrell plotting to bring Voldemort back is ended. Then in Lord of the Rings the conflict is not resolved by the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. The theme here is shown but how it will happen is still not evident. Also, the theme of temptation and desire are present in both films. An example of this in Harry Potter is the desire of Voldemort to gain control of the Sorcerer’s Stone to regain his power. Additionally, Harry is tempted to join Slytherin House.
Jumping over to Lord of the Rings, the Ring is an example. The desire for the Rings power is what draws Sauron for it. Also the ring tempts Frodo, but Frodo’s toughness and help from his friends keeps him from putting the ring on his finger. The ring tempts a mysterious creature named Gollum. Gollum frequently throughout the Lord of the Rings attacks Frodo trying to take back the ring, for which he once had. Near the end, a warrior fighting for good, Boromir, asks Frodo for the ring but Frodo refuses to and puts it on himself to disappear.
This starts the downfall of Boromir. Both films show the themes clearly throughout it. Another theme in both Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings is symbolism. The two films use symbolism to a high point. The two most meaningful and important symbols in the films are the Sorcerer’s Stone and the Ring. Both are equivalent to the theme desire and also power. Another point of symbolism in Harry Potter is the houses. Slytherin House for example is symbolized by a snake. A snake represents slyness and crafty. Then Gryffindor House symbolizes a lion, which shows loyalty and courage.
On the other hand, Lord of the Rings shows symbolism in the land. Mordor, where the eye stands, the last of Sauron, is barren and dark. While the Shire is green and the community is pictured as full of life and having fun. Finally, a hat symbolizes wisdom of two characters. In Harry Potter its Dumbledore and in Lord of the Rings, Gandalf is depicted as the wise mentor. Symbols are an important role in the development of the structure of a fantasy film. Every fiction story has an underlying reason for it being written, this is called the metatruth.
Metatruth is best defined as the reason that the author bothered to write the novel or story. It is some universal truth about life, about history, or about the human condition. The metatruth is known as the heart of the story not a theme. Some stories may even contain several metatruths. In Harry Potter some of these metatruths are good versus evil, resilience, and reliance on friendship. The good versus evil metatruth looks at the choices in life are either helpful or harmful to the human condition. Harry’s resilience mirrors how his saying no to bad ultimately has a good impact.
Lastly, growth of friendships in Harry Potter help reveal Rowling’s metatruth, which is that we are not always on our own, but working together for the same purpose is a necessity. This also can be said when looking at Lord of the Rings. On Middle Earth beings have a choice, good or evil, who do they choose? Like Harry, Frodo shows resilience at the hero role. Frodo’s resilience is shown throughout the film as the ring tempts him. Also, in the Lord of the Rings, the friendship aspect is brought into play. Without the encouragement from Sam, Frodo’s closest friend, Frodo wouldn’t have been able to follow through with his resilience.
Metatruths play a huge role and significance in the films, which help point to real life truths and circumstances that affect most individuals. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring contains similar elements of fiction. Although they are somewhat similar, they display these elements in their own way. Elements of fiction such as, plot, conflict, characters, themes, symbols, and metatruths all play a huge factor in the development of a fantasy fiction novel. Both films are enjoyable and bring the reader to a state of awe, making the viewer want more.