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The Half Blood Prince - The Ex-Communicator

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July 17th, 2009


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10:34 am - The Half Blood Prince
(No spoilers). I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night with happytune and my daughter. I liked it a lot. It's by the same director - David Yates - who did Order of the Phoenix, which disappointed me. I am starting to wonder whether my mood or something is what determines whether I like this type of film. So, I would say this film was visually excellent, hung together pretty well as a narrative, had good performances, and had a nice subdued dark tone. Generally I thought it had a sort of coherent integrity, in that the imagery reflected the core themes.

Of the young actors, I thought they all had good moments, but Daniel and Emma also had flat moments. Rupert Grinch I think is shaping up to be the best of them, and his physical presence and energy was marked. In fact in this film I felt that the Weasleys in general had a vitality which was missing from Harry and Hermione, and that this was a deliberate theme. Harry is described by Dumbledore as 'unfailingly kind' and the downside of this - inability to dominate, difficulty in making ruthless decisions - runs right through the film. It perhaps makes the film dull for people who would prefer a more focussed and dynamic hero, but that's the story.

Another character finding it difficult to follow through on ruthlessness is Draco. I find this actor (forget his name) a competent one-note, but in this film his repertoire extends to match his increased ability, and he is incorporated into bleak monochrome scenery as a bleak monochrome item, which worked well.

Of the adults, Slughorn is played by Jim Broadbent, at a range of ages, and I thought he did a very good job. What else would we expect? I thought his dynamic - continually weak and tempted, barely holding himself back from the darkside through personal vanity - came across with greater clarity than in the book. As well as the dichotomy between kindness and ruthlessness, a second opposition is between intuition and rules as guides to action. While both Harry and Hermione are kind, Harry and Snape are intuitive, while Hermione and Slughorn use rules. It was only in this film that it was obvious to me that the opposition between the text book printed words, and the scribbled marginalia, is a way of symbolising this dichotomy. The different approaches of Snape and Slughorn to both potions and the dark side.

I'm afraid I thought Michael Gambon didn't quite get it right at times. He's obviously very good, and he conveys authority and charisma well. In some scenes where it was crucial he is clearly weak and weakening I don't think this was always portrayed compellingly. But perhaps this is a flaw in the narrative, where the same character must be weak and dominating at once.

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Comments:


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From:storme
Date:July 17th, 2009 10:59 am (UTC)
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Interesting note there on the intuitive vs rules-using approach--it hadn't occurred to me to see Snape and Slughorn as the adult analogues there. Hmm.

(I feel like I should have more to say other than 'interesting note' but I need to mull the thoughts over a bit first.)
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From:communicator
Date:July 17th, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)
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I think it's quite surprising how freely Harry breaks the rules in this book, to gain unfair advantages, and I wonder how much this is the influence of the Half Blood Prince.
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From:storme
Date:July 17th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
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Harry has always broken the rules when it suits him, no? He does seem even less concerned by it this time around, though.

I think it might be at least as much down to Dumbledore's influence, really.
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From:dfordoom
Date:July 17th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
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I am starting to wonder whether my mood or something is what determines whether I like this type of film.

My mood has an enormous effect on my response to movies. Sometimes I see a movie that I know I would normally adore, but I'm just not in the right mood to appreciate it.
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From:communicator
Date:July 18th, 2009 07:24 am (UTC)
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Worse, I find it sometimes sticks, so I can never really enjoy the film. That's only with films that are a bit borderline.
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From:sjkasabi
Date:July 19th, 2009 09:50 am (UTC)
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I hadn't thought of the marginal notes that way, but yes, of course, that totally works.

I'm glad you also thought Michael Gambon a little off key sometimes. I generally enjoy him immensely as an actor, but I really haven't completely loved him as Dumbledore, and this movie bothered me more than the previous ones. There were places where he was terrific - the flashback to when he first met Tom Riddle, for instance - but I really felt that some of his delivery was at odds with how everyone around him was reacting to it. And is it just me as an Australian with a tin ear, or does his attempt to mimic the Irish overlay that Richard Harris originally gave to Dumbledore's voice fail to sound like a genuine faded Irish tinge, and just sound like an accent he keeps accidentally dropping out of?

I did enjoy the monochrome bleakness of the thing, and the movie overall, though.
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From:communicator
Date:July 19th, 2009 10:23 am (UTC)
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I'm not good enough on Irish accents to be able to say.

It's hard to talk too much about Gambon's performance without slipping into spoilers (though is there anyone likely to be reading this who doesn't know the end of this film?) but I thought he flubbed it at the end.

The overall tone I thought was great.

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