Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

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On a rare day off of my caregiving duties, my family and I trekked to the theatre to take in the newest Harry Potter outing.

None of us was disappointed.

Let me start by saying that, as a result of my profession (for those of you who might not know, I’m an English teacher), I am exceedingly good at recognizing that novels and films are two entirely separate works of art. Regardless of how well a screenplay is written, regardless of how careful a director is or how much he or she loves the novel upon which his or her film is based, the movie is never going to be absolutely faithful to the written word. It can’t be, really. As readers, we form ideas about characters in our minds, and if those characters aren’t represented on screen in a way that mirrors our mental picture, we can be distracted and annoyed. Novels give us insight to characters’ thinking, the writer calls attention to particular details, and there are any number of secondary stories that simply can’t be given screen time.

Many people think that means that the movie can never be as “good” as the books. I heartily disagree.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is an incredibly enjoyable film. I will admit that it’s been years since I read Rowling’s story, but I don’t feel that diminished in any way the adventure that the film was able to lead me through.

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By now, almost all of us are familiar with the primary characters of the Harry Potter franchise. We’ve watched as Harry, Ron, Hermione and their friends have grown from 11 year-old awkward first-years to far more complex and self-assured sixth-years. Their instructors – most notably Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape – continue to guide their students through their studies while simultaneously teaching them about the realities of their world – and themselves. The stories have been – and continue to be – inextricably wound together with wonder and humor, friendship and love and loyalty, and an undercurrent of genuine danger and foreboding. Just because Harry’s world is magical doesn’t mean he always gets what he wants; there’s real pain and loss in the Wizarding world, and this film doesn’t flinch from showing how difficult navigating that world can be.

I’ve abstained from mentioning any plot spoilers in the body of this post, but be warned that I’m going to leave a comment as soon as I finish posting this that will be very specific about an aspect of the film. If you’ve not seen it yet and hate to know ahead of time what’s going to happen, wait until after the final credits roll to read the comments.

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4 Responses to “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince”

  1. Mrs. Chili Says:

    PLOT SPOILER!

    I have to admit that Draco Malfoy has never been among my favorite characters. In fact, I think it’s fair to say that he’s been one of my least favorite. In this film, however, an effort is made to portray him as far more than the bully he’s been in the previous films. He’s very clearly struggling with what he’s expected by his family (and Voldemort) to do in this movie, and I found the performance to be altogether believable. I found myself feeling sorry for him; for all his bluster and bravado, he came off as a scared little boy who’s being bullied by the reputation of his family to be something that he’s not really sure he is.

    I will also admit that Snape has always intrigued me. I remember saying on my own blog, years ago when the final book was coming out, that I expected Snape to play a pivotal part in the culmination of the story. Snape is an incredibly complex character, and Rickman’s portrayal of him has always been, for me, spot-on. This film was a delight for me because Snape figured so heavily in it, and the movie did nothing whatsoever to betray what’s coming next.

    Where was I disappointed? I could have done quite nicely, as well, without the diner scene at the beginning of the film. Also, I felt that there should have been much more foreboding. The Half Blood Prince was, if I’m recalling correctly, pretty dark and scary. The upheaval in the Wizarding world was so great that the Muggle Prime Minister had to be called and warned about the impact that would have on his world. People were disappearing, everyone was on edge, and I felt that part of the film was not adequately addressed. For all the little details I would have liked to see, this film did not disappoint as a whole.

    And away we go!

  2. The Day Off « The Blue Door Says:

    […] film was wonderful (see my musings here).  Never once did I stray from the world the story created; I didn’t think of this […]

  3. Kizz Says:

    I read all the books as soon as I could get my hands on them. I haven’t seen any of the movies since the second one, though. I can’t decide whether I’ll do a marathon and see the 7th one in the theatre or wait until it’s all over and do a marathon in my own home then.

  4. nhfalcon Says:

    Cookiemaker and I just got back from seeing “Half-Blood Prince.” Fortunately for me, it’s been so long since I’ve read the books that I no longer hold the movies up to their expectations.

    All in all, I found the movie to be pretty good.

    None, however, have lived up to the first two.

    In regards to “the movie is never as good as the books” idea, it’s been my experience that it depends on which I see first – the book or the movie. For example, I obviously feel the book “The Lord of the Rings” is superior to the films (grand as they are), because I read the book first. By contrast, I saw the film “Jaws” long before I read the book, and found the book to be excrutiatingly bad by comparison.

    I think it boils down to the fact that one medium establishes expectations in your mind that the other almost by default cannot hope to live up to.

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