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Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

I enjoyed the sixth Harry Potter movie, but it was a shallow enjoyment, the type of enjoyment one gets out of an ice-cream cone rather than a magical evening of stargazing. I'm going to quickly throw out the obligatory "OMG they deviated from the book" and say that that really disappointed me. I do think it's possible to make a compelling and worthwhile movie based on a book that abridges it (even to a great extent), but this film doesn't back me up on that. I believe the changes I mention below stripped important meaning from the movie. There are other, more random, changes, as well, but these were just the big ones that bothered me.

Defense Against the Dark Arts classes: In the book, Professor Snape being tapped to teach Defense Against the Dark Arts was a big deal. Harry was outraged. I think he screamed out "Are you mad?!" in the middle of the dining hall. In the movie, he looks disappointed and upset, but not overly so. That might be because he never *takes* Professor Snape's class in the movie! They don't show a single scene of Harry in that class, which served several important purposes. 1) They explain the Inferi (the reanimated dead bodies in the cave that attack Harry and pull him under), 2) they reinforce the amicable relationship between Draco and Snape, after he promises to look after him, 3) Harry is practicing to be an Auror at this point, so we know he would have to be taking that class, 4) Snape tries to teach Harry how to cast spells with his mind, non-verbally (this came into play later). How could anyone seeing the movie without having read the book not be the least bit curious to see Professor Snape in that capacity, the job he's wanted for five years? Why even give him the job in the movie? Just because we needed a new Potions teacher?

The Missing Pensieve Scenes: Near the beginning of the year, Dumbledore tells Harry he wants him to come to his office for some private lessons every week. These lessons end up being journeys into the past through the pensieve. Harry learns all about Tom Riddle and his time before, during, and even his departure from Hogwarts. In the movie, we got two piddling scenes. The first was when Dumbledore met Tom for the first time. The second was Slughorn's blocked memory of Tom inquiring about horcruxes. Those may have been the only two plot-dependent memories, but we sure do miss a lot of Tom's back story. In fact, I would go as far as to say that you lose any real sympathy for him by skipping his history. This, I suppose, was done for the sake of American audiences, who like things black and white, good and evil, all wrapped up in a nice little package. Voldemort's evil. End of story. (They gave Snape the same treatment in this version. By the end, there really is no doubt whether or not he's evil) How they handled the pensieve itself was both inaccurate and inconsistent. Instead of being a portal through which Harry jump into the memory itself, the pensieve was rather like a TV, where Harry watched the scenes unfold. This normally wouldn't be a problem for me, except that the fifth movie depicted them the correct way! Why did they change that just for the sake of changing it? It made no sense. (Ok, I lied, that last part didn't forgo any meaning, but it bothered me anyway)

Dumbledore's Death: So many things about this were senseless. First, they left out the battle between the kids and the death-eaters. It was a good scene, and it really showed the atmosphere of chaos and fear in the castle leading up to the death. Second, Dumbledore doesn't stun Harry, and Harry isn't under the invisibility cloak. Instead, Snape is under the floor with Harry, sees him, and "shushes" him. Three things bothered me here: a) we know that Harry would've intervened if he hadn't been stunned. That's a part of his character, and we lose that. This is exemplified later in the scene where the death-eaters are running from the castle, when Harry is madly firing curses at Snape and Bellatrix, with little regard for his personal safety. b) Snape could've or would've killed Harry if he had known he was there. There was no reason to leave him and start running away, knowing the threat he was to Voldemort. c) Dumbledore stunning Harry was the reason Dumbledore missed his chance to stop Draco. He used his only window of opportunity to protect Harry. Otherwise, he could've disarmed Draco well before Draco disarmed him.


So why did they show Snape underneath the floor at the observatory, holding his finger up to his mouth? It would've made an easier explanation for why Snape didn't kill him if he had not shown up there.

Similarly, why didn't Snape kill Harry in the scene after Dumbledore's death? He has him under his shoe, so to speak, and we already know the only reason he hasn't killed Harry yet is the fact that he needed to keep up pretenses to stay at Hogwarts. So why didn't he kill him there? Or at the very least, capture him and bring him to the Dark Lord himself?


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 17th, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
I want to reply to your post, but I want to know if you've read the last book or are just following the movies. I assume you have, but I want to check.
Jul. 18th, 2009 12:16 am (UTC)
I have.
Jul. 19th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
Okay good. Here goes.
1. I thought that Snape shushing Harry was to imply that Snape is a sympathetic character for the 7th book. Like you said, American audiences want people to be all evil or all good. Since we find out eventually that Snape has been on Harry's side the whole time, perhaps they were trying to prevent American audiences from making Snape an evil character because he kills Dumbledore. A stupid idea, but I kinda saw it from that angle.

2. I had issues with this too, but I think that because of Snape's promise to Dumbeldore, he would have never tried to capture or kill Harry.

On the rest of the movie, I was very disappointed. The Harry Potter purist in me was heartbroken over the script, and the movie enthusiast in me was bored by the slow pace and forced interactions. It was so sad when it was over, but not because I felt anything for the characters. I was sad that I spent three hours of my life watching a terrible movie.
Jul. 19th, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
Oh balls. This was from me.
Jul. 20th, 2009 04:33 pm (UTC)
Hm.. I took the shushing as a "Don't say a word or I'll kill you" kinda thing, rather than a friendly thing.
Jul. 19th, 2009 12:46 am (UTC)
omg i completely agreed with everything you said. i was really disappointed that the whole dumbeldore scene wasn't anything like the book. i mean, i was on the edge of my seat reading about the kids fighting...dumbeldore's army? were they introduced in this book? and i totally cried when i read dumbeldore died, in the movie...yawned. and the fact he was dead was not moving at all...hardly saw any expression or reaction from the kids.

also, ginny had NO emotion whatsoever. in fact, none of the acting was very impressive.

here's my summary of the movie:
camera pans in
finds character
zoom in
face twitch/"emotion" conveyed
end scene

ugh it was horrible. i mean, good cause it's HP, but very empty.
Jul. 20th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
DA was introduced in Order of the Phoenix I think, when Umbridge becomes the interim headmaster. I can't remember if they were in book 6 or not. I'm re-reading 6 right now, though, so if I come across it I'll make a note.
Aug. 22nd, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
I liked the movie for about 15 minutes until I started thinking about all the many elements in the book that were completely ignored. I explained to my boyfriend everything that happened because he said that nothing in the movie made sense. He thought it was just a movie about teenagers snogging. The book was actually my favorite in the series. It had excellent story telling, it was funny at times and a tearjerker with the death of Dumbledore. The book was just very emotional and I loved it. The last two movies based on the Deathly Hallows better be much better or I might just walk out of the theatre.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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