By Kaitlin MacRae
“Neither can live while the other survives.” This is the fate that Harry Potter must come to terms with in the sixth installment of the epic series, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) now faces his greatest challenge: helping the aging and injured Professor Dumbledore locate and destroy Lord Voldemort’s remaining Horcruxes, artifacts that contain the shattered pieces of the dark wizard’s soul, created when he murders someone. As the “chosen one,” Harry must prepare to embark on the darkest and most dangerous mission of his magical existence, all the while struggling to maintain some semblance of a normal life.
Directed by David Yates (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), the film adaptation of the Half-Blood Prince focuses more on character development and relationships than on action. Although there are some notable action sequences (especially the opening scene), the characters themselves have matured, and it is only natural that the film follows this teen angst and romance.
The main relationship that develops is between Harry and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright). Audiences are taken through the awkwardness of Harry dating his best friend’s younger sister and the slight rift it causes between Harry and Ron (Rupert Grint). However, an important aspect of the budding romance is left out — its inevitable end and the anguish Harry feels for having to choose between Ginny and the imminent wizard war.
Even Ron finds himself in the middle of the action. A sort of love triangle develops between him, his clingy girlfriend Lavender Brown (Jessie Cave) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). Hermione has finally come to terms with her feelings for Ron and becomes jealous of Ron’s newfound relationship.
One interesting aspect of the book that carried over to the film is the focus on Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). In the film, Yates portrays Draco as more than a bully; the audience begins to see the effect that Draco’s family’s status has on him and its implications for his questionable future. As introduced in the fourth film, Draco’s father is a Death Eater (one of Lord Voldemort’s minions), and the Dark Lord himself has requested that young Draco be the one to murder Dumbledore. Throughout the film, the audience experiences his frustration and inner turmoil as he tries to accomplish his task and help the Death Eaters infiltrate the magically guarded Hogwarts. Draco’s “project” culminates in one of the final scenes. Here, the audience learns that Draco is merely a boy with bad luck.
Half-Blood Prince is also different from the other films in the series in that it has a great deal of humor. Where other films have been more serious, the writers of Half-Blood Prince brilliantly incorporated humor into the dialogue, providing scenes of true comic relief to balance out the somber nature of the film’s events.
However, the movie lacks in several areas. Although it is called Half-Blood Prince, it seems that Yates chose to center the story on the relational aspects of the characters rather than get at the core story of the actual half-blood prince. Harry has an important relationship with this character, though their connection isn’t revealed until the end of the film.
Fans of the books might also be disappointed with the exclusion of key scenes, namely Dumbledore’s extravagant funeral and the presentation of the white tomb. Without this particular scene, the film seems to end abruptly and without closure, failing to address the enormity of Harry’s mission ahead.
While time constrictions always limit a film’s content, the makers of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince still managed to capture the essence of the book and provide stunning images of a fictional world that many of us wish we were a part of.