Friday, July 17, 2009

Harry Potter, and the Half-Blood Prince

Here we go again, another Harry Potter movie from the series by J.K. Rowling. I wrote about the series back in 2001/2002 with the release of the first film in conjunction with my views regarding the comparison between Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. In that review, and subsequent others, I noticed these films in many ways aren’t really that different. Despite a few die hard religious fanatics, I hold and contend today, just as I did then, Harry Potter is fantasy much like Lord of the Rings, The Wizard of Oz, and other films of the sort. With the exception of some fanatics holding to their conceited theories regarding the film; let me hold to a point I made back then, very few of those individuals have seen the film, read the books or are consistent with their logic as to the ridicule of the film. There is their supposed giftedness of discernment which is not theologically sound or supported in logic or reason either, especially since so many of those with that giftedness have since apologized since Rowling has written her last book with what according to some, is an even clearer Messianic Christ figure than is contained in The Lord of the Rings.. In one way I am saddened by the inappropriate dogmatic views of some, and on the other, I find pleasure in knowing their criticisms help promote a quality, and worthy story filled with religious analogies not much different than the analogies used to support such films as The Chronicle of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis or the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien. I find that J.K. Rowling may be on the fast track to associating herself among those great literary giants who understood the power of using a children’s tale to teach lessons on the impact of fantasy in addressing the battle of good versus evil, not only for children but also adults who find themselves on the journey with their children.

The sixth in the series of Harry Potter films, Harry Potter, and the Half-Blood Prince is not only a continuation of a beautiful tale, but a beautiful visual experience. The fact that the producers have kept the cast intact has allowed us to watch the characters grow. This includes not only the young characters who have attended Hogwarts, the school where Harry and his friends are fine tuning their crafts, but we have also seen a progression in the staff and background characters. The development of such actors as Daniel Radcliffe is a refreshing thing in movies such as Harry Potter. The young actor, in fact, the entire cast, seems to understand the epic journey they are taking their audience on. Not only have the actors matured, so has the production team. Don’t take me wrong here; this is an accomplishment due to the fact that the first movie of the series started off on an exceptional standard. The continued progression of this series is nothing short of astounding. Among the excellent direction, story telling, sound score, and more, we also see wonderful special effects, especially in the very opening scenes of the movie.

Another wonderful, and unique, aspect of this series is that each movie, although a part of a series, stands alone in its own merit. The viewer doesn’t have to watch all of the preceding movies in the series to enjoy any film in and of itself. This holds especially true for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. One of the reasons for that is the development of the characters and the fact that we see the characters in different stages of their life. We see for example characters that are now older and discovering their sexual identity, not in an inappropriate or disgusting way, but a way each person can relate to that have gone through this age. We also see adult characters allowing the younger characters to grow up, and in the process, helping them become young adults to accomplish their purpose. In this we see the impact of both a good adult and a bad adult influence. The responsibility of adults is strongly addressed. This is seen especially so in the development of relationship between the characters of Harry and Professor Dumbledore who have developed a keen relationship over the years. There is an understanding between the two that is explored throughout the film, an understanding where there is testing, and yet through that testing, the development of a deeper and caring love for each other. We also see the use of manipulation in a bad way though, in a way where the desires and concerns are not towards the youth, but the manipulation of the youth to get what one wants for their own selfish desires.

Harry Potter, and the Half-Blood Prince, along with each film in the series, despite the beliefs that many espouse, is a deeply spiritual film that searches out the struggles involved in the battles of good versus evil. We understand there is a good and dark side that each of us have a choice to follow. Amazingly, despite the criticism of many, there is a large amount of symbolism used in the film, from images of baptism and resurrection, to the concepts of crosses painting the landscape. There is also the symbolism of giving up ones own life for the sake and salvation of another. All images that can be used to open spiritual discussion, but another thing I especially appreciated with this film, is the respect shown by Harry towards his elders. There is an understanding from some who are older, of the abilities of youth, but in that understanding, we also see the respect of youth for those who are older and an appreciation of the wisdom they often possess. In this is also the need to learn of the importance of learning those lessons of life, often love comes at a sacrifice, and Harry, his friends, professors, and even the viewer see that lesson from the examples in the movie.

While slow at parts, and an extremely dark film, I found plenty enough bright spots in Harry Potter, and the Half-Blood Prince to enjoy it a great deal. I enjoyed the film so much in fact, that I found myself doing something I haven’t done before; committing to reading all of the novels prior to the release of the next movie. While I know there are some Harry Potter enthusiasts that aren’t quite pleased with the film, I enjoyed it, it wasn’t perfect, heck not even the best movie of the summer for me, but it was enjoyable and well done. It was a movie that addresses issues I like seeing addressed, growing to maturity chiefly among those. The series continues to prove certain critics wrong, and impress open minded individuals like myself.

If a fan of fantasy, or other film with spiritual allegory, you will enjoy this movie. On a scale of 1 – 10 for the fact that I like the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia series better, I will take those two away to come up with a deserving score of 8 for Harry Potter, and the Half-Blood Prince.

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