Study Guide

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Introduction


Release Year: 2009

Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

Director: David Yates

Writer: Steve Kloves (based on the novel by J.K. Rowling)

Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Michael Gambon, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Alan Rickman, Helena Bonham Carter


We're getting so close to the end now.

2009's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner Bros/Heydey) filmifies the second-to-last book in the series (and it's the third-to-last movie—since they split up Deathly Hallows into two glorious movies). This is when things start to get really good. Like, really, really good. But, well, also bad.

#it'scomplicated

Okay, deep breaths. Let's back up.

So, you probably remember what happened at the end of the last one, but just to recap: There was a huge battle in the Ministry of Magic, Sirius died, Voldemort showed up (so now everyone knows: he's baaaaaack), and Harry finally learned about the prophecy that Sybil Trelawney made when he was born. Heavy stuff. The bottom line: Harry has to be the one to kill Voldemort.

NBD, right?

Wrong: How in the world is a teenager going to defeat the most powerful dark wizard, like, ever?

Well, this is the film where we kinda see the plan start to take shape. Unlike in the last film, Dumbledore is totally letting Harry in on (at least some of) his plans, which include finding out some crucial deets about the Dark Lord from one Professor Slughorn. We won't spoil it, but Sluggy has the key to the whole "taking down Voldemort" castle.

See what we mean about things getting really good? This film is bringing us so, so close the big showdown. Sure, it won't happen in this film…or in the next one. But very soon.

Far be it from us to complain about spending more time in Potterland.

  

What is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince About and Why Should I Care?

Harry Potter's universe has been pretty easy to navigate so far, in terms of sorting out the good guys from the bad guys. Well, except when the bad guys are sometimes disguised as/pretending to be nice, responsible teachers at Hogwarts…but that's another story. We're really talking about regularly-occurring characters. Who aren't Professor Snape.

Did we mention it's complicated?

For example, up to this point, we've been sure that Malfoy and his crew—and basically all of Slytherin—are pretty nasty and dishonest as a whole. For sure, they (and their parents) have been much more prone to nasty behavior and/or approving of the Dark Lord's evil shenanigans.

Then, on the other side, we've got Harry and his crew, who, despite some hiccups along the way, are pretty much always kind, responsible, and often courageous kids who watch out for others.

So, the moral universe has been pretty clear-cut so far: Harry and his crew are good, while Malfoy and his peeps are not so great.

The interesting thing about this installment is that the lines of good and bad get a little bit blurrier. We see Harry using nasty curses on Malfoy and later Snape to avenge their crimes, and Hermione fixing Quidditch tryouts to help Ron. Not exactly the super-moral behavior we've come to expect from these Gryffindor kids, huh?

And then there's Malfoy. He's been a pretty nasty piece of work up to this point, and he's not super nice in this film, either…but he is ultimately unable to kill Dumbledore despite a direct order (and threat of death) from the Dark Lord himself. That tells us he's got a heart beating somewhere behind that snotty and disdainful exterior. In any case, he's not the cold-hearted killer he'd need to be to join the Death Eaters.

Wait, are we seriously saying that Draco maybe isn't 100% rotten apple right now? Now we're questioning everything.

So, why should all this matter to you? First of all, Harry Potter is life. Also, as you may have noticed, life gets a lot more complicated the older you get, and it's full of surprises. The way you act or feel in a particular situation might catch you off guard, or you may find that decisions don't always seem as clear-cut as they once did.

As we learn every time we try to figure out a subway map, sometimes there are a lot of different paths you could take, and it's not at all clear which one is going to take you where you want to go.

Any of this sounding familiar? Well, that's what's happening with Harry, Hermione, Ron, and, yes, even Draco. Yes, there are good and evil forces in the world, but most people—people like us—grapple with a thousand different shades in between those two extremes. And knowing that we're all struggling with that is one small step in understanding each other and the world, right?

Like we said, Harry Potter is life.

Trivia

Wondering how they found a Baby Voldemort who looks so much like Big Voldemort? Well, the actors are related in real life. (Source)

Poor Daniel Radcliffe didn't like his own performance in this film. We think some of Harry's modesty must have rubbed off on him. (Source)

Jessie Cave, the girl who played Lavender Brown, beat out 7,000+ girls to get the role. Whoooaaaaaa. Shouldn't there be a special Oscar for that? (Source)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Resources

Websites

Pottermore's Take
Check out the all-things-Harry-Potter site for more depth on the story.

The Encyclopedia of Harry
Thirsting for more? Try the Wikipedia that's all about Harry.

Book or TV Adaptations

The Book
Errrm, yes, there's a book. You may have already heard of it. We certainly have.

Articles and Interviews

"It's All About Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll."
Intrigued? Read director David Yates' decidedly un-PG interpretation of what the film is all about.

Mr. Modesty Talks Acting
Want more deets on how Daniel Radcliffe felt about his role in Half-Blood Prince? Rolling Stone has them.

Video

What Are We Getting Into with the Next Installment?
Good idea: Here are five trailers to help you prep for the sixth flick.

Audio

Musical (and Magical) Potter
Get a little taste of the soundtrack, courtesy of YouTube.

The Making of a Grammy-Winning Soundtrack
See where all the "magic" (get it?) happened, soundtrack-wise.

Images

Malfoy's Very Bad Year
Sure, he's not the nicest guy…but we can't help but feel bad for him this year.

The Internet Is a Strange Place
One site's interpretation of the whole "prince" concept.

The Harry Potter Crowd, Looking Ready to Battle
We wouldn't want to be a Dark wizard right about now…