I remember sitting in the cinema, my expectations abysmally low following the train wreck, Order of the Phoenix. I didn’t know whether to blame Michael Goldberg, the screenwriter, or David Yates, the director. I went into Half Blood Prince, begrudgingly giving Yates a second chance. And he came out with this:
This scene is the first time I felt that movies did something better than the book. The line that really did it for me – by that, I mean gave me goosebumps and a sense of awe – was Harry saying: “It feels like this.”
For my Screenwriting class this year, I compared this scene to how it was in the book. Unfortunately, I can’t link to a PDF – but it is the end of chapter 14. Harry finds Hermione in an empty classroom, frantically practicing spells, and angrily muttering under her breath. Ron bursts in, Hermione storms out – ANGRILY SHOUTING a spell at Ron (Harry thinks he can hear a sob as she leaves).
This scene in the book never evoked that strong of an emotional response from me. Not when I first read it when I was 12, the times through high school, or the last time I read it – a few months ago – when I was just shy of 20. Nothing.
To me, the book handled this in a very abrupt way. It’s not enough to have Hermione angrily curse at Ron. You don’t feel the heartbreak.
But Yates and Kloves remedied this. One, they’ve drawn parallel to Harry’s relationship with Ginny (something that was poorly handled in the films). Two, we have two people who love and care for each other brought together through pain and rejection. If you’ve ever felt the pang of unrequited love, then you know that all you need is for someone you love to hold you.
This scene eloquently captures Hermione’s vulnerability and heartbreak, and Emma Watson beautiful conveyed Hermione’s emotionally fragility; in fact, it was this scene that made Stephen Chobsky decide he wanted Watson to play Sam in The Perks of Being a Wallflower – double win. Further more, unlike in the book, this scene draws parallel to Harry’s longing for his soul mate, Ginny.
I love Rowling as a writer – and she proved in The Casual Vacancy she was beyond capable of handling raw, emotional issues/situations. But, this was always a scene that underwhelmed me int he books.
Yes, as a film, Half Blood Prince focused too much on the romantic subplots, and not enough on – you know – who the Half Blood Prince is (honestly, what were they thinking with that last scene?). But, you can’t deny that the emotional nuance Yates brings to the films evokes a great deal more from the audience than the predecessors.
I also want to give credit to Nicholas Hooper – an AMAZING composer. The score from Half Blood Prince is probably my favourite of the whole series (followed by Deathly Hallows 2 composition by Alexandre Desplat).
What are your thoughts?