I went to the movies with some friends today and they all wanted to see Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince, which would normally be great except for the fact that I already saw it last week. But I was outnumbered and didn’t really have much choice in the matter. I’m actually glad I saw it again because not only was I able to notice a few things I missed the first time around, but a brief conversation I had with one of my friends after the movie was over sparked some interesting thoughts concerning one of the characters. At least something productive came of my little excursion.
I have one minor complaint. Now, I realize how difficult it is to capture every detail of J.K. Rowling’s stories on screen. It’s the same way with any movie…you have to cut something otherwise you’d spend most of the film on exposition and risk losing the audience’s attention. I get it, really I do. But for some reason they chose to cut out the Hogwarts battle at the end of Half-Blood Prince. This is, in my opinion, a rather important part of the story. I’m trying to figure out why that specific thing was cut, especially when it would have been an action-packed sequence. The most obvious reason would be time; the film runs over two and a half hours so a battle sequence probably would have added 10 or 15 more minutes. Cost is also a potential factor, but I doubt it is much of one considering how many hundreds of millions of dollars the films have made internationally. Anyway, it just kind of bothered me. But other than that one issue, I was very pleased with the film overall.
Friendly warning: If you haven’t read the books but plan on doing so eventually, you might want to turn back now because spoilers abound below.
Finally, on to the discussion I had with my friend. It concerns Severus Snape, and it would probably be more fitting to do an analysis of his character after The Deathly Hallows movies come out, but that’s far away and I had the thought now so...yeah, deal with it. Anyway, I said something about how Severus is my favorite character in the whole series of books and my friend thought that was weird because he’s so unlikeable. I like him because he has so many layers. He’s the most complex character in the series, and I enjoy characters that aren’t black or white. You can argue that Harry is as complicated as Snape, and it’s true that he does have a lot of emotional baggage and teen angst, but Snape was a freaking DOUBLE (triple?) AGENT for crying out loud! No, he’s not a nice person, but he does turn out to be a good guy. I think my friend’s concern was that Snape is so unnecessarily cruel to Harry throughout the series, but I can kind of understand his position. How do you go to work every day, stand at the front of a classroom and look out and see a student who is basically the spitting image of a guy who used to beat you up when you were a kid. But wait a second: this student not only looks like his father, but has his mother’s eyes (as everyone points out), a woman you’ve been in love with since you were eleven years old. So this kid is the product of a love between a man you can’t stand and a woman you wanted more than anything. But she didn’t want you in return, and Harry is an everyday reminder of that fact. Unrequited love SUCKS. On top of all that, this woman you loved so much let herself be killed to save this little boy from certain death. So the love of your life is dead because of Harry Potter. I can only imagine how painful it is to deal with all that in silence. Severus Snape is a tortured soul, and tortured souls make the most interesting characters.
On a related note, I have to mention Alan Rickman’s performance. He’s always fantastic as Snape, and in other parts as well (Bottle Shock!). Snape has a pivotal role in this book and film (after all, he is the Half-Blood Prince), and Rickman totally knocked it out of the park, but in a very understated way. He’s never too over-the-top and I appreciate that. If I made a list of British actors and actresses I admire and will watch in anything, Rickman is definitely on it, probably near the top.
Tidbit: Did you guys know there is a Harry Potter wiki? I didn't until today when I had to look up the name of the Inferi (otherwise I would have had to call them "those dead people-things in the water"). http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page