18th Jul2009

howcha like yer POTTER!?

by jerad.formby

i hope you brought a snack

The Harry Potter fan reaction to the new movie Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is wildly polarized. I haven’t seen this sort of reaction before.

It seems that the new movie, just to quote the Internet, “has the worst adaptation” of all the films. The movie “skips so many important things” from the book. And filed under Hey Star Trek’s favorite: “leaves people who don’t know the books totally confused.”

geez a google search for lost in translation has seven million hits for scarlett johanssen in panties

Well, brothers and sisters, I’ve seen the movie twice. That is a Harry Potter first for your humble Hey Star Trek! As a reader of Harry Potter and a lover of all things film, I’m here to tell you the Half-Blood Prince is the best movie made from the books.

And yes, I’ve read the book.

spoiler alert hey star trek style
adaptation such a nubile tempting ravenous beast so lythe and beckoning

I came onto the Harry Potter train with the third film and have since read books three through seven. I really do love the books.

One of my least favorite movies is the Order of The Phoenix. It is not only infamous amongst fans as the shortest movie made from one of the series’ longest books, it also has two strange little IMDB facts.

A. David Yates is the director (he also made this new one and will make the next two)
B. It’s the only one in the series not written by Steve Kloves

The sixth movie marks Kloves’ return to the Harry Potter universe. He’s written more Harry Potter than he’s written other movies. It’s a pleasure to finally get around to him.

and how many of you have ever seen it yeah i am talking to you exes!

He is in charge of the Harry Potter movie story. Which is a separate beast altogether.

He writes that four-hundred page first draft. He cuts the heck out it. He trims and scewers and brings out the theme. This writer is the buffer between the director and J.K. Rowling the novelist.

He takes the meetings with fresh pages of Penceive scenes to David Yates and it is Yates who decides that Voldemort isn’t as important as Tom Riddle. Maybe it breaks his heart to chuck some of these scenes into the bin, but I assure you a new story is taking hold.

The Harry Potter movie is taking shape. It will not be a word for word interpretation of the book. Sometimes it won’t even feel as if it is the spirit of the book.

i know this seems obvious but do you really know how hard this sort of thing has to be

But the Kloves screenplay always champions the characters in the book. That was Rowling’s decree. She always knew the movies couldn’t be the books. She just wanted her characters to remain intact.

Those characters make it to the screen with Kloves’ words. Those characters are then turned into flesh and bone by the actors who portray them.

They have never been exactly the book. Nitpicking Potter fans have the hardest time coping with their favorite scenes being left out of a movie. Hey Star Trek! has always been disappointed that so much intrigue involving the Ministry of Magic politics never seems to show up in the movies, but it’s understandable.

The lack of politics certainly streamlines the movies, but negatively impacted my viewing of The Goblet of Fire. Parting of the ways, anyone? Anyone?

i am not immune to harry potter movie complaints i have a few myself

But in addition to deciding what has to go and what’s going to stay, the screenwriter has another unwieldly task. He has to take the scenes from the book that he will use and make them into movie scenes.

I think Steve Kloves is incredibly adept at this.

er memory slime or sticky thought ooze or oh this is just getting worse

A lot of the story in the Half-Blood Prince (both the movie and the book), hinges on Harry having to retrieve a specific memory from his potions Professor Slughorn. This memory will give Dumbledore the insight he needs into the best way to defeat Voldemort for all time. Slughorn doesn’t want to give up the memory (in fact, he’s altered the one in Dumbledore’s collection because of his shame).

To accomplish this, Harry drinks a potion known as Felix Felisis (basically liquid luck). Once a person has taken this tonic, he or she will succeed at anything they can imagine (until the effects wear off). He then goes to Hagrid’s place with Slughorn and after the Professor is good and drunk, Rowling has Harry talk Slughorn into giving him the memory.

Here is her dialog presented without the prose.

as for why certain jk rowling words are bigger hey star trek keeps secrets

The film version finds all of the circumstances exactly the same. Harry is there and not drinking. Slughorn is three sheets to the wind. He and Hagrid sing songs about Hagrid’s dead pet spider.

But then it changes. Slughorn feels the need to ingratiate himself to Hagrid (who has just lost a pet).

steve kloves always sees drama in terms of beat and rythem he would love to be a musician

Now a Rowling purest might argue that Kloves “missed the point” of the scene in favor of making up something new (believe me, Francis is not in the book). There is no mention of Potter’s father. Slughorn doesn’t seem to protest so much. And fear of the Dark Lord is addressed with a lot more subtlety (barely a very well played mention).

But it’s beautiful drama. We know from Rowling’s dialog that Slughorn had affection for Lily (of course he’s quick to point out everyone adored her), so that’s what Kloves brought to the front of the scene. He chose instead of a simple conversation over how horrible the tragedy was to give Slughorn a bit of a Lily poem.

A bowl with a fish in it that Lily created. When she died, the fish died.

Harry listens and when he makes his kill shot –his final push to break Slughorn’s will, he doesn’t reason it out of him with a guilt trip and ensuing logic. He only has to reference the bowl. He only has to have Slughorn reflect on the emptiness of the bowl.

It’s shorter than the Rowling scene. It has a tight beginning, middle, and end. And that’s only one of the reasons that “hacking up” the book is an artform.

dang this blog is full of thoughts on this crap

I’m starting to think that Harry Potter fans would do well to take a page from we Star Trek fans and treat the books and the films as separate universes (not such a huge leap as the books take place in the 1990s and the films are all modern times). The choices made in the films aren’t there to be blasphemous or ruin what you loved most.

The choices are made to translate Potter as smoothly as possible to the screen. Outside of the added ‘burrow burning scene’, the ‘lack of a big fight scene’, and the ‘lack of a funeral scene,’ I found this interesting protest online that I’d like to address.

I pick this one because he is most upset about a character choice made with harry

he compares the scene in the movie accurately

he has the other laments i have read online but nobody goes to town on this like he does

his protest makes sense for the book but maybe the movie needs to rock it differently

This protest from a fan is the perfect point to demonstrate why I think this is the best movie in the set. In one version of the story, Harry is paralyzed and helpless. In another he shares a moment with his mentor’s killer. In that moment, he has to choose to either trust Dumbledore (which he’s been asked to do) or go with his instincts and stop Snape from entering the scene.

He lets Snape go. And now must live with the consequence of respecting Dumbledore’s last words to him. That is the first choice he made in a new life without Dumbledore. It wasn’t a choice forced on him by a spell. That would be too easy for him. This is much worse, not knowing until the last second that he should have listened to himself and not his mentor.

I wish I could tell you the ramifications for Harry when we see the next film. Imagine Harry having to live with the thought that Dumbledore was tricked and Harry didn’t have the timing to help. I can’t tell you what it means. Because it’s not in the book. That’s reserved for the film version –for another telling. Thank goodness it’s Steve Kloves again.

This is why I think this is the best movie in the set. With all of the wizards we have met and all of the characters who have slipped through the cracks, this movie serves to focus this universe and this world. It’s here to make dark magic scary again. This is why the burrow burned, instead of another “mysterious scene” of young Voldemort playing out again.

The next book will be two movies and they are going to have a lot going on in them. I’m really happy that this movie didn’t cram us with lots of stuff and instead focused on reminding us why we care about them. Why we even like them. This movie reminded us that the films aren’t experiments in how much plot can be included from the books, it reminded us that these are movies.

Because they are about to end.

And the perfect choice to let us all get to know Harry and his friends again is when they’re all trying to get to know each other . . . as young adults. The hilarity. The awkwardness. The egos. The light sexual politics. Brilliant.

the last lament of the potter fan but so many people feel this way too

The people in the water are Inferi. Dark Wizard undead slaves. In movie talk though, Zombies. Do they really have to be named and said to be “created by Voldemort”? Seems the experience of the spectacle works without it –okay, nerd, maybe we don’t know the difficulty level on killing these guys, but let’s assume Dumbledore can roll a critical 20 when he has to.

The logic of the horcrux is contained within the film (a lot of the film is built toward the revelation of just what horcruxes are) so we have to believe that something that dark and freaky is gonna shake Harry up. The specifics of just what happened to Harry when he touched the ring don’t have to be known, we just need to know that ring is powerful and probably not a good idea to keep around.

On Ginny and Harry. I’ve read the books and I’m still asking that question your friend had.

And that last question. If you seriously answered your friends then you’ve done them a disservice, sir. That material isn’t in the Half-Blood Prince, that’s in a longer book. I think they call it the last one.

Also, I’m fairly certain that major missed points are not leading to confusion in the next movie. Once elements are in the movies they are carried through and not dropped. We didn’t see Remus turn into a werewolf in this movie, but we know he can. We know he’s with Tonks from this movie so a wedding next time around won’t seem a surprise, know what I mean jelly bean?

operators are taking picture of your site and doing this all the time

The biggest quibble everyone seems to have is the lack of a funeral scene for Dumbledore. When it was told to me by my friends who hated its omission, they explained that instead the kids all raised their wands by his body.

That sounded to me like a quick and easy change that might not have the emotional impact of the funeral scene. Wow. I was wrong. What my friends neglected to tell me was that when those wands were raised, the Dark Mark over Hoqwarts was cast out by light. That was powerful, unspoken, and made of awesome.

They didn’t even look up and see the effect they were causing. It wasn’t worth the time of day.

Better than a funeral where basically Harry dumps Ginny, eh?

As for how the kids did that without speaking a ‘spell word?’ I’m just going to have to site the same unspoken spell that saved Harry from Voldemort.


The best magic there is.

if you haven't seen it see it now before the music on the soundtrack gets even more dated

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  • CactiMilton

    I think you bring up an excellent point that, in my experience when dealing with book-to-film adaptations, people have a tendency to ignore: Separating the books from the films and treating them as separate entities. (In this case, I’m weary to say “universes”, only because “Potter” is somewhat different from the “Trek” novels, in that the “Trek” novels are taking original source material -from- television episodes/films/larger concepts borne of both, and the authors—many and varying—are doing their own thing with that source material, which constitutes separate universes; whereas the “Potter” books are written by a single author and -is- the source material that the filmmakers are working with, resulting in a single universe.)

    It’s not a shortcoming, I don’t think, because, ultimately, the book (being the source material) is what the fan has fallen in love with and comparisons (while somewhat illogical, considering, as you said, it is a completely different medium and filmmakers can’t release a 6-hour, true-to-stones “Harry Potter” film—there would, undoubtedly, be fans that would sit through it, but for fans of just the films, no friggin’ way), are inevitable.


    By employing this method (acceptance of Books and Films as separate things), I agree that it could save the fans a lot of grief (not to mention spare the rest of us/the internet at large a lot of wank). At least, it’s done great things for me, personally, and my enjoyment of book-to-film franchises.

    Thank you for the reminder of this. I’ve yet to see “Half-Blood Prince”, and will have to keep the separation in mind before I am blinded by my love for the series and go on a tirade, hiding behind my precious anonymity.

    LL&P, Jerad.

  • http://twitter.com/super_spock jerad.formby


    Thank you so much for your remarks! I realize now upon re-reading the post I wasn’t very clear about the ‘separate universe’ thing. What I was trying to say was that the new Star Trek movie has done so much “damage” to existing Star Trek canon, that many fans are treating the existing canon as a ‘separate universe’ from this new movie –it helps them embrace it.

    Hey Star Trek! didn’t to mean to reference Star Trek books as the same as Harry Potter books. *hugs*!

  • http://twitter.com/bookworm2007 bookworm2007

    Thank you for shedding light on the no funeral scene complaint (that was my biggest complaint along with how the movie ENDED)

    I actually thought this movie reminded me of the book for much of the film.

    I still don’t like literally the last minute of the film. I don’t think it does justice to the way the book ended. After seeing your analogy about the fourth movie ending (which I agree with) I think I’d like to borrow that for how I feel about this ending.

    And oddly I don’t think you’re missing much by not reading the first two years. Perhaps if you have time you could go back and read the first year just to see what started this almost revolution. (But the second book is my least favorite…so its okay to skip that one) 🙂


  • Bobby C

    I can understand cutting a lot. I’m glad they didn’t cut Hagrid and Slughorn getting blotto (even adding that fish story). But I was looking forward to the “several sunlit days” kiss, not a chaste peck. The was written very well in the book.

    A flashback of Ralph Finnes as a pre-Voldemort adult Tom Riddle (with a nose and regular eyes) would have been informative. Maybe next time.

  • Scott

    Interesting take on the film. I disagree with you on this being the best adaptation since I find Curon’s “Azkaban” the best one. The script is definitely far better than the last movie, however I find Yates direction really hackneyed. I invite you to go to the “Meet in the Lobby” facebook page to read a short opinion of mine on the film.
    I enjoyed the additions, especially the fish bowl dialogue. However, I was sorely disappointed in the lack of plot injected. For example, we never learn about the ring, or what happened to Albus’ hand. This could’ve been included in the film without having to show all the pensieve scenes that are in the book. For those who have never read the books, these movies become confusing, pulling items from the books and not explaining them. Either explain it or cut it totally.
    Also, it would have been better to add a dialogue with just Harry and Dumbledore arguing about Snape’s devotion. This is an essential element of the story. It could have been put in right before they leave for the horcrux.
    Overall, good script, bad direction.

  • Aria Mia

    You once again tackle so many great points here…. But, if I may, I think Order of the Phoenix was lacking a tad more than this film in terms of content. I would have, however, really liked to see Half-Blood Prince as a two part movie, as well as 2010-2011 Deathly Hallows films. As a huge HP fan, I think that this might have done the books a little more justice and wrapped up more points for those not familiar with the books. All in all, it was a great film…… but Star Trek 11….. was, hem-hem, probably better.

  • VegasAndorian

    Yeah, I think this was the best of the movies so far, although I like Azkaban the most so far.

  • Delma

    Thanks for your insights. Clever as always.