In Mike Newell’s ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’, dragons are portrayed as symbols of the overriding danger that follows Harry throughout the film. This is made particularly apparent during Harry’s chase with a Hungarian Horntail in the first task of the Triwizard Tournament. In this scene, Newell’s use of both diegetic and non-diegetic sounds assert the dragon’s role as a figure of danger and builds tension and suspense as the safety of Harry’s life is brought into question.
The non-diegetic sound included in the scene is important in how it characterises the dragon. At each occasion when Harry is presented with an opportunity of escaping the dragon, the music becomes a loud, triumphant mass of orchestral noise, foreshadowing the success to come for Harry in both the task and the film as a whole. The inclusion of such uplifting music on these occasions helps to demonstrate to the viewer the very real danger that Harry’s life is facing in this task, with these hopeful bursts of music providing optimism to the viewers that Harry’s escape from the beast may be imminent. The use of music here can also be interpreted as representative of the wider battle between good and evil in the narrative. The on-screen presence of the dragon is a visual depiction of the dark forces that plague Harry’s life. Conversely, the celebratory music included in the scene symbolises the forces of good that Harry fights alongside in the film in order to restore peace to the Wizarding World.
In contrast, during the moments when the dragon closes in on Harry, the background music changes. Here, music of a faster pace is included that mimics quickening tension of the scene during these dramatic moments. The speeding up of the music helps to classify the dragon as the agent of the scene’s dramatic narrative, conveying how its presence is one of such significance that it can heighten or lower the feeling of tension and suspense in the scene.
The inclusion of diegetic sound in the scene is also worthy of note. When Harry is helplessly clinging to the buildings of Hogwarts, the elevated sound of the ledges and walls crumbling with the movements of both Harry and the dragon add to the scene greatly. From the dragon, the sounds of the towers crumbling with each movement are a reminder of the beast’s power, as each step brings it closer to reaching Harry. However, the crumbling sounds from Harry’s struggles to not fall are the opposite of this. Instead, the sounds of him slipping down the buildings are a reminder of his vulnerability in this situation, and a reminder of the advantages the dragon holds over him in the challenge. At this moment, the presence of the dragon can be seen to signify the effect of Harry’s participation in the Triwizard Tournament upon him. The dragon can be seen to symbolise the jeopardy of the rigged tournament upon the safety of Harry, as he is left to struggle against the forces he has had no control over. As each step that both take only appears to draw them closer together, the sounds of the crumbling building and ledges serve to characterise the dragon in an advancing predatory position in the scene, whilst Harry adopts the position as prey. Additionally, the absence of non-diegetic sound in this part of the scene focuses the attention of the audience solely upon the deliberate, individual moves of Harry and the dragon, highlighting the pivotal nature of this moment in the chase. As a result of these images formed by the movements of the pair, each sound of the collapsing structures that allows the dragon to advance upon Harry builds uncertainty as the dragon closes in upon its target and Harry’s life hangs as desperately in the balance as Harry does physically in these moments.