Choices. Translating beloved books into successful movies always involves careful choices. The decisions that comprise adapting the wildly successful Harry Potter series into a cinematic, palpable vision make the challenge nearly overwhelming. A balance between preserving the sanctity of J.K. Rowling’s text and forwarding the drama and intensity of the story visually must be achieved. And thankfully, the sixth installment of the Harry Potter series accomplishes this task admirably and does not disappoint avid fans of the book series nor moviegoers alike.
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince opens with an older, more mature, and introspective Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) still coming to terms with the loss of his godfather/father figure, Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). His mourning is reflected in the quiet, somber intensity of the film at its onset. However, Harry’s aimless summer of flitting around London is about to come to an end when Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) approaches him with a daunting task. Dumbledore enlists Harry to aid him in the task of sifting through the memories of Lord Voldemort’s childhood in order to better understand the roots of his evil nature and ultimately stop him.
As the “Chosen One,” Harry must prepare and be poised to have the ultimate showdown with Lord Voldemort. But the beauty of this film is that although it gives justice to that overarching plot, the lens of this movie focuses more closely on the characters we have literally seen grown up before our eyes. “Reality” still infringes upon the magical world in the form of the beginnings of romantic entanglements between the characters as Hermione (Emma Watson) wrestles with her feelings towards an oblivious Ron (Rupert Grint) and Harry contends with his feelings for Ron’s sister, Ginny (Bonnie Wright). Although some forays into experiments with love potions do have some unexpected bouts of hilarity and temporary results, all of these characters cannot utilize their magical capabilities over matters of the heart. The relationships they foster and the decisions they make have real results and repercussions that have lasting results.
The task of this film largely is to set up the two-part installment of the last book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. However it stands as an important chapter and a worthy successor of the films in its own right. Indeed, the magic of this story cannot be denied. With quiet integrity and pathos, the pivotal players in this epic move towards the explosive conclusion. As fans, we can hardly wait.