Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Half-Blood Prince

Finally saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and I thought it was the best of the bunch. Very dark, at times humorous, and filled with teenage angst which is fitting considering that the main characters are supposed to be 17 years old. What surprised me was that according to this New York Daily News article many HP fans are "aghast" as the film "makes much of the book disappear.”

These disgruntled fans take umbrage with the “blown-up portrayal of the blooming relationships between the young characters” and in doing so “left out the majority of the plot.” That the filmmakers left out “all of the Ministry of Magic scenes,” “the huge battle with the Death Eaters who descended on Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,” and “aspects where Harry was learning about [Lord] Voldemort’s life so that he could understand everything” to name a few.

These fans claim they understand that some scenes need to be cut to fit the novel on film, but do they really? We’re talking about a 652 page novel. The Hollywood rule of thumb is that a script page should equal a minute of screen time. If you compare a standard script page with a page from J.K. Rowlings' novel you’d see that each of her pages would equal about 3 to 5 script page (maybe even more). Putting that aside, let’s say one of her pages equaled one script page then a full adaptation would have been 5 hours and 30 minutes long! It’s amazing that the filmmakers got the movie down to 2 hours and 33 minutes. In other words, the filmmakers had to cut out at least half of the novel just to get a decent film length.

As to the other point about the film focusing too much time on the teen romance, hello! The characters are 17 years old! Of course they’re going to be consumed by thoughts of the opposite sex. These are late teens living together 24/7. If this was remotely real life a film about Hogwarts would have to be rated R. It was masterful how the filmmakers were able to weave the romance stuff with the rest of the story.

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