Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” (2009)



of narrative space

Who saw and keeps seeing the Harry Potter franchising and thinks a little bit about it knows where it is going to (or supposed to). The franchising is unusually long, for films that work a single story-line, even more when the evolution of the age of the characters matters. It started 8 years ago, it will finish its release (we suppose) in 2 years. So a decade with the same characters. But more, a decade with the same viewers. That’s the trick, each film does not attempt to target new audiences, instead it attempts to get the ones who saw the previous films. Of course new publics are welcome, but picking up the regular one (that started in the books) seems to be the main purpose. That’s why every film is ‘darker’ than the previous one, because if the first one was to be seen by someone with, say, 10 years, than the last one should be watchable by someone with 20. It’s a clever idea, and which apparently has allowed all the new films to be bankable despite the long duration of the characters. Also, i suppose, that’s why Chris Columbus got out of the boat after the third one, he has his imagination shifted into targeting children, and “families” in the way. When Columbus got out, they had trouble replacing him, and i think the two previous films are absolute cinematic disasters. The last one, specifically, is a total mess in every respect. Well, Yates must have seen it plenty of times, and made it partially up in this one.

What we have in this new episode better than in the previous two is a certain building of the tension from scene to scene. They understood they don’t have powerful drama in their hands, the books are funny depictions of appealing bits of mythology but rooted in teenage fantasy and adventure, and that can’t be changed. So they wrote the film accordingly to the possibilities they had. It makes it watchable in those terms. Well, the large form is absolutely inexistent. The film is a collection of loose chapters, the thin links the book (i suppose) provide are absent here so the film works as an illustration of certain moments in the story. But generally speaking, each episode is competently made.

But something is really great here. It’s the depiction of space through the election of the framing. What i mean is that space is present, it is used as an important (the most important) bender of dramatic dynamics, meaning that every scene has a life because of how it is framed, In the space. I collect examples of how space is used in cinema and this is a good catch, which does use space in a rare way, through the frame. It’s in the exact positioning of close and far elements (objects, elements of the architecture such as walls or doors) as well as in how characters come up in the space (and where) that the magic happens. This film does it well enough. The true tension of the scenes is in how they are spatially used. As spectators, we are dismissed into believing it is The story, the dialog the characters that make us feel uneasy, or driven away, but it is the space, here bended by the frame.

So now, in the 6 films we have, there are 2 which matters for what they do with space: Cuarón’s Azkaban and this one. Cuarón is someone who ostensibly moves in and through the space, hanging on characters or rootless for the sake of the space itself. This version depends on the staging of space, and finding the meaningful frame (in this case in a space which can and is previously thought up). I personally prefer what Cuarón does, but i really enjoyed this version, and it positively surprised me. (Orson Welles masters both types of space exploration, and can deliver both of them in the same film, changing the mood of space exploration! that is unique).

My opinion: 4/5

This comment on IMDb


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