This amazing artist placed 3rd in the Totems and Mysterious Objects contest
I love the powerful animal spirits she manages to capture in her drawings that are always keenly observed and really seem to connect with the inner nature of the creatures she draws.
I was a little slow on the uptake this time, but I finally ran out of excuses and today caught a 12:00 noon matinee of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince". Overall I have to say that this is probably one of my most favorite movies out of the whole series, an absolute visual feast: simply well-made and shot in a breathtaking flow of wide epic vistas and amazing camera sweeps. The opening sequence in which the Death Eaters abduct Ollivander and then just as an afterthought wreck the Millennium Bridge over the Tames is just exhilarating in an absolutely terrifying way. And we get many of these instances of cinematic tour de force. Others that stick in my mind is one that sweeps away from a lone Draco standing atop the Astronomy Tower, another one that follows Bellatrix and Narcissa into the warren of grey, rain-washed streets around Spinner's End.
What I loved about the movie:
The script was actually intelligently made and showed what needed to be shown, cut what could be cut, and didn't make any blunders like we saw in Goblet of Fire, where they forgot the corpse of Barty Crouch senior in the Forbidden Forest. Of course again the whole book wasn't represented, but this time it came across with the major points that we will need for HBP I and II and still stayed true to the somewhat static and cloying atmosphere of the book where nothing seems to move except the chess pieces of adolescent pairings.
The action is contained in Harry stalking Draco and visiting glimpses of the past and only breaks free in sudden flares of violence, such as Draco stomping on Harry's face and Harry eventually retaliating with the notorious Sectumsempra, until everything suddenly and finally explodes with the violence of the Death Eater attack on Hogwarts. HBP is the calm before the storm, marinated in juvenile angst and hormones Bellatrix finally blowing it all to kingdom-come almost felt like a release to me. I guess she didn't like her time at school much
Draco was an absolute highlight of this movie: impeccably clothed, rangy, raging, utterly alone. Tom Felton played the lost Slytherin with a wonderful mix of arrogant swagger, devil-may-care-attitude, and fraying self-control that finally descends into a complete emotional breakdown. None of the Trio have yet been able to (or had the opportunity) to give us such a range. I loved the small visual touches that were lavished on him, from the photos of him and his family on the front page of the Daily Prophet that firmly link the Malfoys to Voldemort and to Azkaban now, to the little scene of him wielding his father's serpent cane as a visual symbol of his new role as the replacement for the disgraced older wizard. He is also offset from all of the other students by his own color range. Everyone else is presented in rich, deep-colored amber shots, laced with accents of red and green, always in groups, always together. Draco's world is shot in black and cold grey-blue and he is always, always alone. Cutting even Crabbe and Goyle from their roles as his sidekicks was a good idea.
I loved everything connected to Slughorn, his calculating maudlin nostalgia, his ability to conjure up a world of textures, fabrics, elegance, luxury and decadent beauty, his weakness and his ultimate decency. The producers did not miss a beat with him, nor did they fail in the presentation of the tangled web of teenage liaisons. Everyone came over as geeky, awkward, lovable, vulnerable and so completely inexperienced with what they were going through. Examining my own memories at that age, the atmosphere felt very authentic. I must also say, I loved the dopey effects of both the love potion and the felix felicis I guess at that age most teens are stoners, at least for a little bit, even in the wizarding world
The new memories about Tom Riddle were wonderfully creepy. Both the little boy and the adolescent just made your skin crawl, even though they both seemed to look just lovely on the surface. I also loved our new glimpses of Diagon Alley and Nocturn Alley (does W&W stand for Weasley & Weasley, or for Willi Wonka? The twins channeled some serious chocolate factory!) Borgin and Burke's seen over the rooftops with the Death Eaters walking in and out also had a terrific atmosphere as did the grey washed-out streets at Spinner's End and Snape's study, appropriately wall-papered in books.
The visual elements of the final cave scene were magnificent, from the cold crystalline surroundings to the elegant but deadly beauty of the stone basin and drinking vessel and the dark-elven-style boat. The green and red scene under water as Dumbledore's magic drives back the inferi and allows Harry to swim back to the surface was a wonderful visual quote from the epic battle at the ministry with the difference that in that battle Voldemort wielded fire and Dumbledore water
What I did not like:
Despite all the amazing elements, the movie also had a few serious weak points and one of them was of all things the performance of one of my favorite characters, Severus Snape. I had already heard people say that he had more air-time in this film and I was really looking forward to seeing more of him. Don't get me wrong: he had his moments, his face as he watched Cormac McLaggen barf dragon balls all over his shoes was just pure Snape. I also liked the scene where he watches Won-Won break Lavender's heart (sooo cynical) and the one between him and Dumbledore where he tries to get out of Dumbledore's request to finish him, but the other scenes we see him in felt really weak to me.
The swearing of the Unbreakable at Spinner's End seemed hurried and lacked emotion - we never really gather Snape's motivation, because it cannot have been compassion for Narcissa as she cried some crocodile tears into her caked wrinkled makeup and appeared thoroughly unconcerned about it all. In fact in the movie it seemed actually Bellatrix who goaded Snape into his commitment for the sake of her nephew. Of course she might just have wet her panties at the thought of using a spell that gave people really cool scars all over their hands. She's just that kind of girl...
Overall she showed more positive emotion and encouragement towards Draco in her own warped way than his Mum that's pretty sad. Actually as much as Slughorn was a casting highlight of the movie, Narcissa was a disappointment. I'd steal her snazzy wardrobe in a minute, but she did not project despair or care for Draco and in the harsh light they filmed her in, she could have been Draco's grandmother. After HBP and DH came out as books, JKR had me converted into a 100% Lucius/Narcissa shipper. After the movie I believe every stinkin' fanfiction that has him hook up with Hermione, Lavender, the Pavarti Twins, Luna Lovegood, or even with Sirius, Severus or Lupin. Heck, I'd even believe a Lucius/Hagrid slash-fic these days. What were they thinking, marrying him to a hag?!
Anyway, off my Narcissa soapbox and onto another big disappointment: the showdown between Snape and Dumbledore was an absolute anti-climax. Draco played both the old men into the ground crying, shaking with despair and rage and remorse and feeling so emotionally raw and vulnerable. Snape and Dumbledore in comparison could have shared a conversation about grading essays over a cup of tea that eventually got so boring, Dumbledore threw himself off the tower just to put an end to it.
And where was "Don't call me a coward!!!"? Instead we get the totally lame: "I am the half blood prince." WTF? Ok, so Snape got the hint that Harry had found his old potions book, because he went slicing and dicing on Draco, but sorry, in the scheme of things Dumbledore is dead, Snape's ass is in a sling and the castle is taken apart by Death Eaters that should be the least of Snape's worries!
I think they could have saved themselves the immolation of the Burrow, which served absolutely no purpose except pose the problem where Bill and Fleur will get married now (if they even plan to have a wedding, seeing that these characters have been in a state of oblivion so far), and give our potions master a few more lines and a bit better scenery to chew through.
Still, the niggle are overall minor and this ranges pretty much on top of my HP movies so far, together with COS and POA.
* If you ask me to make artwork available as a print, please check if it uses copyrighted material. DA will not take print submissions that are based on such materials. This means, no prints of drawings based on movies or TV shows like the Harry Potter Movies, Brokeback Mountain, CSI etc. If you want a drawing as a print please note me instead.
Commission status: open
If you want to know more about my art: did a great interview with me. [link]
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