Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince

Harry Potter and his magical chums are all grown up in The Half Blood Prince, the sixth film in JK Rowling’s franchise, which has darkened considerably since the jolly schooldays fun of The Philosopher’s Stone back in 2001. The Half Blood Prince is a stop-gap film, designed to drag these characters into young adulthood while providing Harry with the motivation to confront his evil arch-nemesis Lord Voldemort in the series finale The Deathly Hallows, now split into two parts for release over the next couple of summers.

The film opens with a wordless shot - in what will become a signature inky monotone - of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), battered but victorious after the events of The Order of the Phoenix. The story closes, two stirring hours later, at a sensational moment familiar to readers of the book, a time when all hope seems lost. The Half Blood Prince is a film made up more of fleeting emotions, moods and tones, than a strictly plotted story. Harry has returned to Hogwarts school for the start of another year when the demonic Death Eaters, led by Voldemort, start wreaking havoc throughout the country, including attacks on Muggles, ordinary people not connected to the wizard world. Sworn to protect their leader, and destroy Harry, a covert Death Eater has followed him to Hogwarts and begun hatching a sinister plan.

Harry has his suspicions, but his friend and headmaster Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) is more interested in preparing the young wizard for his most dangerous mission so far, the discovery of a vital clue to destroying Voldemort known as a Horcrux. The key to finding this fragment of Voldemort’s black soul is known only to Hogwarts’ new Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), information Dumbledore can retrieve from his memories and display on a shining bowl of silvery water. At the same time, Harry is benefiting from helpful notes jotted in the margins of one of his schoolbooks, a battered old text that used to belong to a young prodigy who signed himself “the half-blood prince”.

Meanwhile, teenage hormones are casting a spell of their own. Harry’s moon-eyed pursuit of Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) is developing into something deeper, helped by their shared skills on the quidditch field. Harry’s best friend Ron (Rupert Grint) has spurned his long-time crush Hermione (Emma Watson) and become entangled in the lavish affections of Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave), to everyone’s annoyance.

The ins and outs of Dumbledore and Harry’s quest might prove confusing to the uninitiated, but otherwise Yates and his screenwriter Steve Kloves draw clear, clean lines through the reams of Rowling’s original text, dropping everything that doesn’t contribute to their ever-darkening theme of momentous change. In the process, characters like Robbie Coltrane’s ungainly Hagrid and Maggie Smith’s pernickety McGonagall are relegated to remember-me cameos or solitary, declamatory scenes.

If there is no real urgency in The Half Blood Prince it is because we have waited so long for these events to arrive, and are still awaiting a final conclusion, that the film feels like it is spanning a gulf in time and development rather than standing alone as a narrative. Everything is pointed at the catharsis of the final reel, meaning much of the rest is incidental; a series of comforting comic asides, cleverly introduced flashbacks, distractions and side-bars. They might mean very little but these sequences are beautifully rendered by Yates and his creative team, who create a tangible atmosphere of foreboding with muted, spectral light, innovative angles and a sparing use of the series’ occasionally intrusive special effects.

Read my set-visit and interview with Daniel Radcliffe here


Foo said...

well....the story is nice....but the filem which is on the cinema...already cut of the intersting part....

Lilah said...

I love the story of Harry Potter, but the film at the theaters is so far off that it's a completely different plot. I understand that some things must be cut, but they added in tons that was not there in the first place, leaving no room for the very important stuff. I've never seen a movie that so horrendously butchered the plot of the book that it's (extremely loosely) based off of. The characters don't even act the same.