Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

A brief whisp of respite before the grand finale. Friends struggle to cope with emerging emotions, whilst Harry's thinking and drive are hijacked, to be directed towards extermination. Finally taken into his Headmaster's confidence, Harry trails alongside his teacher as an ill-informed accomplice and notional equal - a frail old man weaponising a prophecy boy for tasks he cannot himself complete. This idea of sin hand-me-downs looms over Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Although barely glimpsed, Voldemort's presence is keenly felt, his poisonous will to power polluting and ruining a strata of unwilling accessories. New potions master Horace Slughorn holds a particularly shameful jigsaw piece that, once revealed, leaves him a deflated sag-man.

Tom Riddle has snaked up and down generations needling and flattering pawns into compliance. His latest plaything, Draco Malfoy, has been bullied into atoning for his father's recent failure at The Ministry of Magic. Young Malfoy has been given a task he has little chance of accomplishing, the boy buckling under the pressure of being a chosen one. Rake thin and pallid, he's Harry's sad reflection. They are two lonely boys struggling with the weight of staggering expectation. Half-Blood Prince is full of doubling. Malfoy and Snape are aligned as lonesome outsiders; Harry's prospective girlfriend Ginny Weasley bares a striking resemblance to Potter's mother Lily; and, most importantly of all, Harry and Voldemort are twinned by experience. Both are orphans, unloved and finding solace within Hogwart's.

David Yates' film abandons much of JK Rowling's book and reorganises more. Screenwriter Steve Kloves has fashioned an information through-line for the upcoming twin Deathly Hallows conclusion. It's adaptation by bullet-point. Pertinent facts communicated through brief visual signifiers and tart gasps of dialogue, always just enough to maintain the thundering momentum. Mark Day's editing plays willing accomplice, clipped, bordering on harsh throughout, particularly during the memory fragments Harry explores. There are a few upsets - the title reveal means nothing, and Harry gets away with attempted murder, but the majority hangs together beautifully.

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