Being a Harry Potter fan (of the books) for the last 7 years and sitting through the not so great movie adaptations, it was with some trepidation that I went to see Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince. Fortunately for me, and scores of Harry Potter fans, the movie is a vast improvement over the previous
Director David Yates had an uphill task bringing the 5th book – at 800+ pages, the most “flabby” of the series – to the big screen in about 2 and a half hours. Not so with this one. Yates does an excellent job of retaining the essence of the 6th book even while discarding some portions which would not work or fit in the screenplay. The focus has shifted to story telling instead of following one CGI trick with another. Yates keeps the SFX to a bare minimum and brings them out only when required and always keeps the story moving forward. This is the first movie in the series which comes close to the excellence of the books.
Now in his sixth year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry is being trained by his headmaster and old friend, Albus Dumbledore, to bring about the downfall of Lord Voldemort, the greatest dark wizard of all time. Much to Harry’s surprise, this does not involve great feats of magic or difficult incantations. To defeat Voldemort, Harry must learn his weaknesses which can only be gleaned from the past. For this purpose, Dumbledore has managed to obtain and store “thoughts” from various people who knew Voldemort before he was all powerful, which can be viewed at leisure in a Pensieve – a wondrous object which lets you browse around a person’s thoughts and study their behavior. One very important thought needs to be obtained from Horace Slughorn, ex teacher of Hogwarts, who had considered Voldemort – then known simply as Tom Riddle – amongst his favorite students and may have given information which eventually helped him to to rise to power. Dumbledore convinces Slughorn to come back to Hogwarts and puts Harry up to the task of obtaining this memory from him. Meanwhile, Draco Malfoy – Harry’s arch enemy at school – is working on a task entrusted to him by Voldemort himself to break into Hogwarts.
Without giving away any more of the story, this is an excellent adaptation of the book, fans of HP will lap this one up.That is not to say that newbies will be unable to follow the storyline. However, it would help if one has a basic knowledge of the HP universe. Watching the 6th part of a planned 8 movie series may need some back story to follow certain parts of the movie.
David Yates will return as the director for the last book which is being adapted as a 2 part movie. Here’s hoping that he raises the Harry Potter series from a money spinner to a true cinematic tour de force which it truly deserves to be.
Contributed by Runil Motwani