HARRY POTTER AND the half-blood prince
book 2004 movie 2009 first read 2004 first watch 2009
A sixth-in-a-row return to the school of witchcraft and wizardry, where love is in the air and each laugh is followed by a sob.
Considering how the Harry Potter series reaches its most serious peak until then with Order of the Phoenix, the lightheartedness and actual funniness of Half-Blood Prince always gets me by surprise. Despite all the unraveling of dark secrets going on here, this is also the installment that focusses most on that awkward first, or in some cases second, love. Even Dumbledore suddenly seems interested in Harry's love life. In fact, no one is spared; Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny - everyone seems slightly confuzzled by the hormones that are suddenly filling each and every corner of the Hogwarts castle. The new Potions teacher Professor Slughorn isn't really helping with his socializing parties, nor is Quidditch. However, luckily for the audience, both provide for some of the funniest moments in the whole series (cue: Cormac McLaggen and a bowl of ice cream).
Meanwhile, Voldemort and the Death Eaters are gaining more power and influence every day, infiltrating the Ministry of Magic and even the school. Draco Malfoy, who gets the chance of a lifetime to prove his loyalty to the Dark Lord, is one of the most interesting side characters in this part of the series. While he's always seemed like a bit of a wanna-be dark wizard, hiding his cowardice behind empty threats and arrogance, you actually feel pity for him at this point. It turns out he's not really a bad person, just someone born into the wrong environment - and Harry's hatred towards him looks almost unfair at times, since you know (or can guess) what's going on inside Malfoy's mind. The same goes for Snape. Even though it's always very interesting to analyze his behavior with the knowledge of what happens in Deathly Hallows - something that has brought me a lot of pleasure during this project - it's not until Half-Blood Prince that it really pays off to know what's really going on. It breaks your heart to see the things from Harry's perspective, completely ignorant of the true circumstances behind the fight between Snape and Dumbledore. By the way, as you've probably guessed, Dumbledore's death was when I cried - and only in the book. Because no matter how well-made the film adaptation is, I can't forgive it for not showing Dumbledore's funeral. (And why did The Burrough have to burn?).
The movies managed to capture another core theme of Half-Blood Prince very well though, and that is Tom Riddle's childhood and the creation of Lord Voldemort. While there is much more material and snack for thought in the book, the movie filters out the most important scenes from the Pensieve and makes the story understandable enough to the unread viewer. At least that's what I could gather, never having seen the film without having read the book. Hero Fiennes-Tiffin and Frank Dillane were perfectly cast in the roles of 11-year old and 16-year old Tom Riddle, respectively. In fact, I had to look it up before realizing they were not the same actor morphed to be older/ younger with CGI. Speaking of which, the effects are improving vastly with each school year. Hogwarts is growing darker but also more realistic in every film, and the attention to detail in any of the interiors and exteriors of the wizarding world is amazing.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the most dually toned film of the series, but it works. The result is neither a dark comedy nor a funny drama - but there is no point in trying to find a name for You-No-Poo meets Dumbledore's Death anyway.
The Sorcerer's Stone • The Chamber of Secrets • The Prisoner of Azkaban • The Goblet of Fire • The Order of the Phoenix