Fun with Franchises: Favorite Images from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
One of the recurring features that we do in Fun with Francises (a feature within a feature) is, after we finish watching a film, we go through and pick out our favorite images from that film. These images could be anything from really famous images from the film or franchise, really beautifully composed shots, shots that are funny to us because of the facial expressions being made in them or because of what we said about them in the article in which they appeared, or simply because they have boobs in them.
What we usually do is, just how we watch the films, Colin and I go in separately and pick out about ten to fifteen shots that we really liked. Then we compare lists, and whichever ones we both picked automatically go on our final list. And everything else we talk through and discuss why we like them, and eventually we’re left with a final list of ten images we liked the best, along with ten honorable mentions, which were also as good, but just missed out on making the list proper.
It’s not very complicated (like most things we do here on B+ Movie Blog), and is just a way for us to point out shots that we really liked in the films, especially since we tend to pick stuff that’s not always on the beaten path. (We also don’t officially rank the list of shots. We just put them in chronological order. Simply picking them is hard enough. We don’t want to make our lives any harder. Plus, we’re lazy.)
That said — here are our favorite images from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince:
I begin as I always do, by taking my little introduction to sneak in some extra shots. Deal with it.
You know I love me some candles. And this time they go up INTO the candles! A++
I will always pick a shot of the Quidditch pitch.
Requisite Hogwarts shot we haven’t seen before.
Another thing I want to mention — the cinematography in this film is so good, even the crowd shots are crisp.
Another type of shot I’ve used a few times and like to mention — the shot of the three of them. They work in one of these deliberately in the last few.
I’d also like to have a moment of silence for Harry and Hermione. Still think they should have ended up together in the movies.
Oh man, I’m trippin’ off acid.
Also, Luna is amazing. I love this shot. This is the Luna version of the badass sunglasses shot.
All right. Now let’s get into our picks.
I’ll tell you now — we’re actually better than we’ve been in a couple of weeks. Considering this is the best cinematography of the series, you’d think we’d have hundreds of shots. Actually, this was the easiest it’s been since the first movie. Colin and I usually fight to work everything into 10 top tens and 10 honorable mentions. This week, we had an extra spot to award (I won’t tell you which one that was. Feel free to guess, though. I don’t know how obvious it’s going to be). Somehow, we managed to have so many similarities, and hit so many ones right on the nose together, that we were right there at 20 shots without any kind of effort.
I’m proud of that, considering how great this movie looks.
So, with that, let’s begin:
1. This shot:
The way Colin and I set up this article is — throughout the week, we, at some point, read through all the articles and look solely at the shots and the shots alone (though we of course remember what we wrote underneath them and that does influence our opinions). And we pick out a giant group of ones we like. Sometimes it’s earlier in the week (Colin had his picks in for the first two films by like, Tuesday, and I dragged my feet, and Azkaban we had finished by like, Wednesday), sometimes it’s not (last week, we only started compiling shots for a list at like, midnight on Friday).
This week, as I reading through the first article, I saw this shot and went, “Oh man, this shot is great.” Since I didn’t really remember it so much. When I sit down to collect shots, I have a bunch in my head that would be obvious choices. This one didn’t even cross my mind. And this shot looked so good to me in the moment while I was reading the article that I said, “Fuck everything else, I’m going through all the articles and compiling all my shots right now so that I can get this article ready and talk about them.” That’s how good this shot looks to me.
And I was extremely happy when I saw Colin’s selections and saw that he picked this shot right off the top as well. So it felt like a fitting first choice. (Also, the fact that it’s chronologically the first shot of all the shots in our top ten also helps.)
I just love everything about this — the cinematography, the fact that it’s raining, the symmetry, the fact that they blend into the shadows in the building (those of you who know my affinity for certain French serials from the silent era will understand why I like that) — it’s just a beautiful shot. Plus, they’re sisters, and where they are in relation to the events happening, the placement on the other side of the alleyway is kind of thematically relevant — this shot works on so many levels.
But, like most shots in this article, it was mostly chosen for purely aesthetic reasons. So the fact that I can talk aesthetically and even off the top of my head start bullshitting how well it works thematically — A+ image.
Mike really got it. It was an aesthetic choice on my part as well; I particularly enjoyed how monochromatic it is. The bricks aren’t a very rich hue, and the rest of the tones are just muted enough that at you could be forgiven for mistaking it for a sepia photograph at first glance. This is also a shot where, going through the articles to make my picks, I stopped to look at it before knowing exactly what it was a shot of. That must be a good sign.
2. The Prime of Draco Malfoy
This film is Draco’s shining moment in the franchise. And he doesn’t disappoint. He has some amazing shots in this film that feature him. So, I felt it was appropriate to give him his own top ten entry.
Also, keep in mind, this is primarily an image-based list, that’s what we’ll be focusing on. That’s the beauty of this film. A lot of Draco’s great moments also have incredible shots attached to them. For example:
He’s fucking CURB STOMPING Harry! Who thought you’d actually see this camera placement in a Harry Potter movie?
This is the “You got knocked the FUCK OUT!” set-up. That’s incredible that they worked this into a movie of this franchise. This is actually more incredible to me than most of the other shots in the film.
The only reason I did’t include this myself is that I’m always reluctance to pick shots with blurred action. But the perspective of the shot as well as the action that’s taking place — this is above most of the rest of this franchise. Physical violence is something of a rarity in the Harry Potter universe, enough that it can be used to great effect with the right cinematic touches.
I have that aversion too, but there are two things that get me to overcome that. First is the idea that, “It’s about the shot itself, and not the particular screen grab that I take of that shot. And second — if what’s happening in the shot is too good to pass up, fuck it. So far, I believe blurred action has only happened twice in this articles. This is the second time, and the first time was Hermione punching Draco right in the fucking face.
I think these qualify as too good to pass up.
(And again– physical violence. That shit stands out.)
I had a lot of other shots to choose from this scene (him closing the door of the cabin, him turning around, letting Harry know he’s there, etc.), but this one just felt the most badass (notice how I didn’t even link to the other ones). He just curb stomped Harry, covered him with an invisibility cloak, and left him to go all the way back to London. And he just casually walks off the train like nothing’s going on.
I’m telling you — this is the prime of Draco Malfoy.
Not to mention — the lighting here is amazing. I said when the train pulled in that this was “The Assassination of Albus Dumbledore by the Coward Severus Snape.”
I’m not wrong.
Absolutely. I had several shots that reminded me of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, whether because of the lighting or the framing. And while I must say that I saw all kinds of films with BRILLIANT cinematography when I was coming up, that was the movie that came out as I was first starting to pay attention to film in any academic sort of way. When I saw it, it was more out of my deep-seated love of Westerns than Mike’s insistence that it was one of the best things you could ever look at on a screen in the history of ever. But he was RIGHT about that. And now, if I’m looking at shots from a film and find myself being reminded of Deakins’ work in that movie, I have more respect for it. I’ll appreciate a car’s lines more if they remind me of a Lamborghini Miura or a Maserati Mistral, and I’ll appreciate a building more if it evokes Le Courbusier. So images like this get cred with me.
Pure beauty, this shot. The light and shadows — gorgeous. This is a complete aesthetic choice, and you also know exactly what you need to know thematically about it as well.
There are so many shots of Malfoy on his own doing some shit by himself in this movie. Usually, they’re wide shots of him, in the dark, thinking about some evil shit. It’s strange how there never seems to be anyone around, but I like that. It’s like he’s Hugo and operates silently in the shadows and hidden places while everyone goes about their daily routine.
This one I love because, a) it’s a gorgeous shot, and b) it reminds me of what Colin wrote in his notes about it (which can be seen in this article here). It was one of those comments that was just so out of place that it was perfect.
There’s nothing better than me focusing on goofy shit, and Colin coming out of nowhere with something like that. It’s just so perfect. So I get the double win with this one — a beautiful image and the recollection of Colin’s great comment.
It was such an incredibly abrupt juxtaposition that I had to comment. Cause it’s this wacky love triangle thing going on between Ron, Lavender, and Hermione and they try to get you invested in that throughout the scene, and then they pull back and show you this. How Draco’s still in the shadows, scheming and planning stuff that nobody knows is coming, like a…phantom…menace. Goddamn it.
I fucking love this shot. If there weren’t so many great Draco ones, this would have been in the top ten by itself. Holy shit. Draco’s standing at the sink, crying (in a good way, not a bitch way. I have to make that distinction, since I so often call people out for crying like little bitches) because of what he has to do, how much pressure he’s under, how he can’t really do this, what he did to Katie Bell, whom he didn’t want to hurt — and here’s Harry, coming in, ready to fuck Draco up for trying to kill him, even though Draco’s not trying to kill him. It’s incredible.
This shot works for so many reasons — aesthetically, it’s the gunfighter shot (called the American shot, appropriately enough), and the whole setup is gorgeous. And then, thematically, it works, because you know exactly what they’re both thinking. And, what’s even better, Draco really doesn’t want to deal with this now, because he’s got to kill Dumbledore! The last thing he wants it Harry coming in and fucking with him. So in a way, the only reason he attacks Harry is because he needs to vent his frustrations. He has no reason to be going after Harry right now. So I love this shot for so many reasons. It’s one of the best shots in the film and in the franchise for me.
He’s been doing a lotta….private things on his own. Just him, in the bathroom by himself.
This shot speaks for itself. Holy shit, is it gorgeous.
The key here is the water. It would look a lot less impressive if the floor was still dry, but fortunately, we had a fight with magic that blew up some toilets.
(Either that or Moaning Myrtle went off.)
Aesthetics, thematics — great shot. We know exactly what this signifies, and it looks great on top of it. Great shit all around.
3. Seamus Go Boom
There was no way I wasn’t picking this. This has to be my favorite running gag in the franchise (not that there are too many, I suppose) simply because they made Seamus such a fuck-up at stuff. If it were anyone else, it wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining, but he’s the Irish kid, so making him the unkempt, rough-around-the-edges type who happens to have a problem with blowing himself up is that much funnier. Also, look at that explosion and tell me how he lived.
It’s not that he tries to blow himself up — it just, happens.
I also love the way they colored it. If it didn’t have that specific sort of hue around the fire, and the bit of sepia tone, I’m not sure I’d have been so keen about also picking this for the top ten. But honestly, this looks great, and I love the gag. Seamus is one of the more consistent and underappreciated characters in this franchise. So I like showing him some love. Remember back in the first movie? He did two things: blew himself up while trying a simple Wingardium Leviosa, and tried to turn water into rum during the first semester. (During which he also got blown up.) Pretty sure those two things are all you need to make me a fan of a character.
And now for our favorite recurring segment in this article:
4. Hermione’s Reactions
It’s gonna be longer than usual, but I don’t care, because these reactions are actually the best part of the films (even making a run against the cinematography in this one):
“Motherfucker, your best friend is missing, how the fuck could you be eating?”
The look of disgust on her face is absolutely incredible.
I just love that this is the “She want the dick” face, and it’s because the potion is designed to represent the type of dick she want.
Freshly clipped grass, parchment and spearmint. She’s a strange one. How about PIZZA?
It would be weird if she liked something so bizarre, like, “Centaur musk.”
This look is amazing. Harry is using Snape’s potions book and it has notes like, “Crush the juice out of the bean so as to release the flavor,” and Hermione’s like, “Why’d you do that? The instructions specifically say to cut it.” And he’s like, “No, it’s this way.” And she’s looking at her’s like, “I don’t know what to do right now,” because his potion is clearly working out better, but the instructions don’t say to do it that way. So she’s torn between the letter and results. Which is a perfect place for Hermione to be.
As much as I love Hermione, I also enjoy people being torn from their rigid ideas of how things should be done.
I completely forgot about this, and, now that I remember that, I realize this is a shot that you must love, then.
Hermione trusts books a little too much. Have you ever talked to someone who writes textbooks? I have. A lot of them do it because of the ridiculous mark-up you get on every copy sold, and they found it both easy and boring to do. They aren’t necessarily the brightest in their field (though some surely are), and their key motivation is to match the depth of their content with the level of student it’s aimed at. So Hermione’s the one who, had she gone to school in the US, would have KNOWN in the first grade that the first Thanksgiving was a big feast where the Native Americans helped out the Pilgrims and everyone had a great time. And only later would she be like, “Wait…we…killed them and took their food? Why isn’t that in the book for first graders? There must be some mistake.” You simply cannot trust everything you read. They’ll publish just about anything these days. It’s refreshing to see someone with a pretty lax attitude toward academics doing better than the person who thinks that anything can be achieved through speed reading. That was Mike’s and my own experience in college, and it was awesome.
The awkward wave cut is one of my favorite comedy cuts in all of cinema It’s never not funny.. + over 9,000 points for it being in long shot. That makes it even funnier.
This is one of my favorite Hermione faces in the franchise. It’s not even a reaction the way we normally talk about for these articles, either. It’s her, having Confundus’d Cormac to fuck up, and her feeling smug about it. Which is nice, because, she’s smiling because she fucked over the cocky douchebag, and because she helped out Ron. I like that in one look, you get both of those things. I look at this and I see her feelings for Ron more than I see her feeling good about fucking over the douchebag. And it’s actually because of Hermione that I’m even partially okay with how their relationship worked out in the movies.
“Way to cheat, Hermione. That’s the Gryffindor way.” That’s what I wrote in the article, and I stand by it. They cheat all the fucking time. From the very beginning. How about Dumbledore giving them exactly the number of House Points they needed to win the championship that year? Did it ever occur to you that maybe the reason so many Slytherins turn out bad is because they have to stand by and watch this bunch of assholes get away with shit left and right?
This is the epitome of the troll face.
We’ll just start with that.
Also, this is the, “What? So Ginny’s making out in public. You could make out in public. You could make out with me in public? You wanna make out in public, I’ll totally make out with you in public, let’s make out in public, I’m ready, let’s make out in public I’ll crawl under this table and give you a blowjob right now it’s just for fun right?” face. It’s perfect.
This is so clearly the face of, “Party on, I’m down for whatever!” Hermione’s drinking her butterbeer, and Slughorn invites her and Harry to the Slug Club dinner coming up. This face is totally, “Are you gonna have some of THIS stuff at your little party? Cause if so, I’m in. In fact, whatever, I’ll go, I’m in a good mood right now cause I’m getting my motherfucking DRINK on.” Of course, looking at the shot and her face, I’d sum all of those thoughts into just one, “Yeah,” with the inflection of a ‘duh.’
This is why we love Hermione.
This chick is so great, her OVER THE SHOULDER shots make this list.
Keep in mind — this entire scene is Harry and Ron talking about Draco, Ginny, Dumbledore, Lavender — they’re having a full on conversation right now. Hermione is not a part of this discussion at all. This is after she made the face up there and is feeling bad about Ron still being interested in Lavender. It’s only if you’re paying attention to the shot (which I am of course doing, because she’s the best character in the franchise) that you even notice what Hermione’s doing. And in this shot, all she does while they talk is down an entire beer in one sip. Every time we see her, she’s still drinking the same beer, and by the time the dialogue exchange is finished, she’s finished the beer. And they haven’t even touched theirs.
That, my friends, is a champion. And it works perfectly within the scene. She wins this scene and she isn’t even on camera! That’s amazing.
This is a top five Hermione moment in the franchise for me.
Actually, (and you know me, so this isn’t a surprise at all) I had no idea what the conversation was about or what was supposed to be happening, cause all I could pay attention to was this chick downing her drink like a champ. I love that this was all intentional, too. This wasn’t just off the cuff, she’s thirsty, or something like that. They planned this shit.
If only she went, “Bring me five more Butterbears. Leo, line them right up here.”
I love this. She’s wasted (not white girl wasted, since they had to tone it down for the movie because of what happens directly afterward. I understand), and Ron has clearly been a dick to her earlier even though she won’t say it out loud, and here she’s clinging onto Harry. Which is absolutely one hundred and fifty thousand percent true-to-life female drunk behavior. It’s so great. I’m not talking the loud ones, I mean the ones who are mad at you and won’t tell you they’re mad at you. And their drunkenness makes it come out in their body language.
I made fun of this by saying she’s propositioning Harry to go take her home and fuck her in front of Ron to make him jealous, but in actuality — just her hanging onto his arm is so perfect, because that’s such a drunk girl move. It’s awesome. I mean, it doesn’t hold up, since —
She decides she’s just happy to be around her friends and loves everybody. (Still… I know what that first shot meant. Don’t fucking lie to me. You worked this shit in to get a shot of the three of them, that’s all.)
But yeah — this is the quintessential drunk girl shot too. What’s even better about this is — it’s not even really a major part of the scene. People generally don’t ever remember this moment from the movie (and yet, here’s the type of scene we celebrate here at B+ Movie Blog. Because we actually watch shit closely here). It’s completely wordless (for the most part. But whatever is said is meaningless anyway, if I remember correctly), and she’s just drunk and happy. And that’s it. And it’s beautiful. And then the other shit happens and it stops becoming interesting.
She saw Ron and Lavender making out. Some random is going to get hatefucked tonight.
(Also, check out the Simple Jack face on the left there.)
“She’s only interested in you because she’s thinks you’re the chosen one.”
“But I am the chosen one.”
This is hilarious to me, but not as hilarious as his comment. I loved that moment of him, tongue in cheek, trying to sound like a badass. You never want a character to be completely not cocky. Harry’s usually cocky in the wrong ways, like trying to take on bad guys by himself and trying to keep his friends out of harm’s way instead of letting them help him. But this is the right kind of cocky where he can make a joke. And Hermione’s reaction just highlights how much of a douchey comment it really was.
This is really one of the only times we ever see Hermione ready to throw down with another girl. Usually she’s a gunfighter against cornish pixies or Slytherins (or in Dumbledore’s Army against Ron). And the only time she’s ever thrown down was because Malfoy was being an asshole. This is the first time where she’s like, “What the fuck did you say to me, Lavender?” She’s ready to pull out some weave up in this bitch. She don’t even care who sees. I’m a huge fan of Hermione in this scene.
Ron woke up from his stupor for a second and called her name instead of Lavender’s. I can’t even make a comment here, because no matter how much I want to make a joke (and believe me, there are many that could be made), this is really a sweet and beautiful moment. The look of assurance and happiness on her face is so great.
I’ve said it a bunch, but I actually want people to know — in terms of acting, Hermione is really the only person in this franchise who manages to work in any kind of depth in terms of facial acting. People make fun of her for the performance, but when you look at these shots, you can pause the frame and know exactly what she’s thinking, and it’s very often more than one thing or one emotion at once.
Colin originally had this in his shortlist (or longlist, whatever we want to call it), along with this shot, because it’s a funny reverse shot of that one. Since that one is the crazy white girl face, after someone says, “Nah, she ain’t crazy.” And then this one is them looking over like, “Hey.” Which is funny. But I actually like Hermione’s face in this just as much. That’s an “Are you fucking kidding me right now?” face. Not to mention, it’s mixed with, “Bitch please. Don’t be a sore loser, you know I won.” Priceless.
This is like the face I make while watching Curb Your Enthusiasm. That face you make when whatever you’re looking at is too pathetic to be believable.
I get this look a lot.
This one is heartbreaking. Ron said her name in his sleep, and he knows it, but is denying it. “Nah, I couldn’t have said it. I was whacked out of my mind on painkillers.” And her face just — you feel so bad for her right now. Because she did everything right. And he’s a fucking mo-Ron. What I love even more about it is that Harry knows too (because he’s capable of intuition, and because they’ve talked about this), so you see his face, and he has to be like, “Yeah, good one, Ron,” but also be like, “I’m sorry, Hermione, that sucks.” It’s a really nice moment.
And now back to our list:
5. “Hello, everyone.”
The film did this so perfectly. You’re in the same boat as the rest of them, who have missed her showing up, and when you notice she’s there in her ridiculous hat (what’s with the cap?) it’s just in time for everyone to turn and go, “…what the fuck?” And knowing her, you know that she wasn’t trying to make a sneaky entrance, but that’s just how she does.
I love Luna. She just does shit. She’d have been one of my favorite people if I knew her growing up. I love people who just do shit like that for no reason and don’t think it’s weird. “Luna, why are you dressed up like Abraham Lincoln?” “Because today’s the day he delivered his Cooper Union Address. Is that not common knowledge?”
I also love — she’s a RAVENCLAW. She has no business doing this whatsoever, and yet, it’s so perfect, and it’s so Luna that most people don’t even consider that when watching this scene.
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And now I’m gona cheat a little bit (it’s my blog, I’ll do whatever the fuck I want), and do a dual entry for a shot and a scene. Since Colin and I basically chose the same shot, and then I felt — “Fuck it, this is one of my favorite scenes in the franchise, so let’s just put more.” Because that’s how I roll.
6. This Scene
I chose this image from this scene, and I’ll just get all my comments out of the way here — this shot is beautiful, and this scene is beautiful.
What happens in the scene is — Hermione has just seen Ron and Lavender make out in front of her at the post-Quidditch party, and she’s devastated.
Not to mention, this comes after the high she has of knowing that Ron didn’t take Felix Felicis during the match, he did it on his own. And there is no sadder moment in films than a sad moment that comes immediately after a really carefree and happy moment. My favorite example for this (and I wish I had a youtube clip to pull for it) is the dishwashing scene in Rachel Getting Married.
(Note: I’m about to go on a movie “rant,” so, be warned.)
Now, if you’ve never seen the movie — do so, it’s amazing. Anne Hathaway probably should have won the Oscar that year. (Though we know nobody was beating Winslet.) But, the basic premise of that movie is that Anne Hathaway was this young model who had a problem with pills and stuff, and one day, she was driving her young brother home from the park, and dozed off at the wheel, and drove the car off of a bridge and he died. And she’s been in court-ordered rehab, and is now being let out for the weekend to go to her sister’s wedding. Her younger sister, too. So she has to deal with all of that, her family’s reactions to her being home, what happened — all of that.
And, there’s a scene in the middle of that movie where the family all just sort of wanders into the kitchen, where Anne Hathaway’s father (played by the wildly underappreciated Bill Irwin — who most people probably know as Cindy Lou Who’s father in How the Grinch Stole Christmas and who should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor this year for this performance) is washing dishes after a big meal. And someone goes to help him, but he refuses, because he has a certain system for putting stuff in the dishwasher. And they joke about it, because he’s always had a certain point of pride about being able to fit an unusual amount of dishes in the dishwasher at once. (It’s like me and packing. I am very good at working a lot of stuff into a limited amount of space.)
So they turn it into a challenge. They’re like, “You have sixty seconds to fit as many dishes of that pile into the dishwasher as you can. So it starts, and everyone’s shouting, and they’re happy and smiling and he’s doing his thing, and it’s this really happy moment, from something that’s so completely insignificant and something almost nobody would write into a movie. And all of a sudden, he picks up a plate that his son used to use (which totally works in the context of the scene, by the way, that it would have been used), and he just freezes. And the whole room gets silent. And when you’re watching the movie (especially in a theater. I saw this in the theater and I felt like I wanted to die right there), you just feel your heart sink to the floor. Everything bottoms out at that moment. You actually feel the smile come off of your face, and you feel so bad, a moment after you were feeling so good, and it’s this moment that you see so rarely in films that’s so beautiful and tragic at the same time. Because you actually get swept up in the happiness of the scene, and you get the rug pulled out from under you as well. And you feel it. You really feel it. It’s incredible. That scene, to me, is a textbook version of how to make an audience member feel true sadness. You bring them up real high on something they shouldn’t feel high about (because you watch the dishwasher scene, and it’s something you wouldn’t think you would get swept up in, and you really do. It’s amazing how much you root for him to get everything into that dishwasher), and then completely bottom it out on a dime. Because you fall far when that happens. And you feel yourself falling every bit of the way.
So that, to me, is one of the most effective moments in all of cinema.
I’m done. Back to the movie.
So Harry sees her rush out, and, like a good friend, comes to console her. And he finds her here. And this is the first shot we see of this scene. And it’s beautiful. And the scene is beautiful. She asks what it’s like for him to see Dean with Ginny (it’s a wonderfully underwritten scene, because she never comes flat out and says she’s in love with Ron, but you know exactly what’s going on the whole time), and then says, “I know how you look at her. You’re my best friend,” which is just one of those lines that will always stick out at me as being one of the best ones. Because it not only implies so much (and I’m not even just talking about relationship-wise, between the two of them. I’m talking character-wise. Individually), but it says so much, too.
If you notice what moments I’m always high on in this franchise, it’s the quiet, emotional ones. And the reason for that is — and you’ll see this moving forward with the other franchises — this doesn’t happen in franchise movies. Like, ever. And I will point that out when one pops up and bring up how long it’s been since we last saw one of those. You’ll be shocked when you see it.
But yeah — amazing shot, and amazing scene. All the shots in it are beautiful.
(Also, I love that things like that movie tangent happen in articles like this. Since it’s not like people are necessarily going to find this article among the many on the blog. And yet, the people who read this constantly are going to get something like that. And if they haven’t seen that movie, they might seek it out now because of that. And I like knowing that.)
I let Colin comment under the next shot, since it’s basically the same, and that’s the one he chose from this scene. And since I basically wrote like four pages for this shot.
I just picked this shot because, while any of the shots in this sequence could have worked, this was the one in which you see Harry’s shadow as he descends the staircase. You know it was intentional because of how they set up the light, and it works really well. In fact, setting up the shot this way is so much better because it establishes a presence and then fills it with the person, rather than just showing a guy walking down the steps and then cutting to her. I was really into this shot.
I think the reason I didn’t pick this one specifically is because I’m so used to this shot out of context, and here, it looks like a rape and/or a murder. And I think I didn’t want that (even if it was just me seeing that, after having seen so many movies and after being in the habit of having fun with them) to take away from how beautiful I think the scene is.
But if you can ignore the impulse to go to horrible places (which I clearly cannot), then yes, this is a great image.
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We basically said everything we needed to say about this shot and scene. So I’ll just let the last few speak for themselves. Looking at them as pure compositions and as narrative representations of the material, you’ll see how every one of them could have been on this list by themselves. That’s the mark of great directing and cinematography.
7. This shot
I’ll tell you right now — I had about six shot choices from this scene, where Bellatrix and Greyback attack the Burrows.
Then there’s the shot of the Burrows on fire, with everyone surrounding it and watching it burn.
Then there’s the moment of Harry and Ginny dueling into the darkness, unable to see where spells are being cast from and fighting anyway. It’s such a great fight, because there’s no score over it at all, and it’s just sound. The sound design here is incredible. And it’s just darkness, and flashes of light from the wands. Amazing.
And then there were the shots that immediately preceded this battle, where Harry runs through the weeds, and all you hear is him breathing, the crackling of the underfoot and the wind his body is creating. And then he stops, and everyone is in silence, waiting to hear some movement so they can find out where the other person is. And you have this great shot of Bellatrix coming into focus in the foreground. It’s really incredible. (I sort of went for that same image in the end.)
The other one I was torn between was this one. It has essentially everything. The Burrows is on fire, it’s a wide shot (which we all know I love), and you have, in a single image, complete spatial understanding of where everyone is. You see Harry and Ginny rushing back there to help everyone out, and you see just how far out there they were. It’s absolutely beautiful, and it was so close to making it on this list.
The reason it got left out was twofold: 1) I know the Harry and Ginny that are in this image are CGI. And you know how much I hate that. And 2) my new motto for these articles is, “When in doubt, go small.” And I went small, since it’s so much cooler when the small, forgotten shot says just as much as the big, memorable one.
The reason I love this image is because of how quiet it is. You can barely see Bellatrix within the grains. And if you do — it’s sinister as shit. You can only see half her face. It’s incredible. And, looking at it, it immediately reminds you of all the greatness that is the rest of this scene, all the sound work, and the running, and the silence. It’s basically this entire scene in a single image. It’s absolutely perfect, and, as forgotten shots go, it’s one of my favorite in the franchise. Because who else would call out this shot as being one of the best in the film?
This whole sequence just makes me think of Signs.
8. Snape, Snape, Severus Snape
Both Draco and Snape have their moments here. Draco more so, since we never really got three-dimensional Draco before. Snape, on the other hand, has been around all along, and has had great scenes in all of the other films. Though here is where his story starts to come front and center.
Snape’s moments are more visual than anything, but I will point out a moment in here that a lot of people might not point out (especially since it comes at a moment with literally three much more obvious choices around it), but is more powerful than all of those combined.
So let’s get into the Snape shots:
I refuse to say anything about this image that isn’t purely visual. Since choosing it as a narrative image is way too easy. That’s not why I chose it, and I almost eliminated it because of that.
I’m choosing it for the visual, and that’s — the shot of him, sitting in a chair, in the corner, behind a newspaper, is great. That’s one of the simplest visual suspense and reveals in cinema. If someone is sitting in the corner, behind a newspaper, and we keep cutting to them, you want to know who the person is, and their identity becomes a big deal. And usually they go and lower the paper or something. But here, he flips the top half of the paper down, which is just such a great move. It’s a really great way to form the shot. That’s why I love this. The paper flip. That’s it. (I actually dislike how they did it narratively, in fact.)
Also — the bookcase behind him. I love a bookcase in movies. Bookcases in a set will always capture my attention. Even animated. Remember that scene in Beauty and the Beast? That shit was amazing.
So that’s why I love this shot. No other reasons.
I like that one of the drawers in the kitchen has a broken handle.
Also I wanted to mention that, in this scene, Colin and I both chose two other shots, which could have made it on the list, but I chose not to, for whatever reason. But — I chose this shot, because I love Bellatrix’s face after he tells her not to touch what isn’t hers. And I love how he calls her Bella and how it hints at whatever their relationship is that we don’t know about. And I love that Snape is reflected in the mirror, which is just basic good filmmaking of a bygone era. And Colin chose —
This shot. This was a pick based on how uncomfortable Snape looked. It was sort of reminiscent of when Umbridge asked him questions and he just answered, and it’s one of the reasons Snape works as the double-agent sort. He’s like this with pretty much EVERYONE. You can’t assume that because he’s standoffish and not forthcoming with answers that he’s working for the other side. He’s always going to be quiet, and he’s pretty much always got a blank look on his face when shit is going down.
First, it’s a beautiful image. Second — the fact that this entire scene takes place entirely in long shot, and not once do they cut in — that’s why this is here. If they cut in once, it would have gotten dumped in later on and not talked about. But they don’t cut in. And that makes it, visually one of the most interesting scenes in the franchise to me.
It’s funny — Colin had this shot in his initial grouping of shots. And I saw it and went, “Of course.” Because it has everything you want in a shot for this article. It’s visual, it works thematically, narratively — it has it all. But — I saw it and went, “I have one better.”
How many people remember this shot, up above? Everyone remembers the second time this happens in the movie, but don’t nobody remember the first time.
Dumbledore has just had his last conversation with Snape, Snape has called him out for being too demanding of him, and him saying he doesn’t want to be a double agent before. And Dumbledore basically shoos him away and tells him he knew the risks. And then he leaves, and Harry comes strutting in to go off horcrux-hunting with Dumbledore (which is so funny to me, that he’s using Harry to find horcruxes because he knows Harry is one), and the two pass each other on the stairs. And as usual, Harry knows nothing, and Snape knows everything (including the fact that Dumbledore is raising Harry to die). So this moment on the stairs is actually one of the most important moments in the franchise. I said in the article that the other moment where they meet is the moment of the franchise, but it’s actually this one, I think. Because one glance at this, you think that Snape has his usual disdain for Harry because of his father and all that, and maybe he’s upset because Harry is taking all of Dumbledore’s attention (like how Woody felt when Andy started playing with Buzz all the time). And yet, when you see this shot in context, it’s totally different. And it’s a completely throwaway shot in the movie, too. You barely notice it.
And yet it might actually be one of the five most important shots in the franchise, if not the most important.
You’re welcome, everyone.
Oh. I just thought mine looked nice. But this one is more important.
This shot is beautiful. What’s funny is that I always thought this shot existed in the next film, and I realized, the next film has the reverse shot of this one, essentially. Which is great, the reverse shot happening after what happens happens.
This shot really makes a good run for shot of the film, in my mind. Because this is all we see of Snape before he comes to the astronomy tower. This, I believe, is the first cut we see of Hogwarts before Harry and Dumbledore return. It’s just Snape standing there. And what’s great about it (aside from the sheer beauty of it as an image) is the fact that he knows everything. He knows Draco’s letting them all in, he knows Draco is going to be told to kill Dumbledore, and that he’s going to have to kill Dumbledore, he knows all about Dumbledore’s hand, and the horcruxes, and Harry, and all of that. And we don’t see his face at all. That’s a powerful image.
I said in the article, “Moment of the franchise,” but I don’t know. I think the other one might be better.
This, of course, is one of the most memorable images of the franchise, and is a great Snape moment, too, because it so clearly shows him to be a good guy, and yet, somehow we’re still not quite sure.
And the other thing is — this, probably, is one of four images from this scene that everyone would pick to put on a list like this. Right? Fuck, I hate the obvious choices and even I put it on here. However…
I think this is the best single image in this astronomy tower sequence. Everyone would choose the one up there, or “Severus Please,” or the one before this, where he says, “Avada Kedavra,” or Dumbledore falling from the tower — but I think this image is more powerful than all of those put together. (Well, the one up there might tip the scales, but the other three for sure.)
Look at the look on Snape’s face right now. This is after he’s said the curse and as the stream has left his wand. The flash of green has already happened, and the deed is essentially done.
Look at his face. That’s why this is here.
Fuck all your other shots. This shot trumps all for this scene.
And finally, this one.
I love me a good extreme long shot. I love when all the action takes place in an extended take. And, in this camera set up, Snape (and Bellatrix! It happens twice!) sends a spell at Harry, which throws him back into the air about ten feet. And then he calmly walks over to Harry, in the long shot we see up there, and goes, “Are you really trying to use my spells against me? Don’t you know I’m the motherfucker whose book you’re using?” It’s really great. The image is absolutely gorgeous.
(Also, note to people interested in comedy: Wide shot, single take, someone walking over and punching another person in the face. Always funny. Remember Looper? The first time Bruce Willis shows up, it’s badass. The second time — single take, wide shot, he walks over and punches Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the face. And it’s funny. I rest my case.)
9. This shot
It’s just beautiful. That’s it. End of story, case closed. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
(Though he does say, “I never noticed how beautiful this place was before.” Which — fuck you. That bugs the shit out of me, since we spent six movies saying exactly that.)
That was my issue with it too. Never noticed how beautiful it was? You grew up in a cupboard and you’re only just NOW realizing that this 1000 year old castle set above the British highlands is actually a bit beautiful? Fuck you. But I picked the shot because…yeah, it’s beautiful.
And now, since the highlight of this movie is its cinematography, we’re just going to have one section we’re calling:
10. Cinematography/Wide Shots
Celebrating the purely gorgeous images in this film.
Don’t worry… we’ve limited it to under ten shots. These shots are interchangeable with a lot of other ones, so.. just go with it. They look nice, and we love them. And we don’t have to say all that much about them, either. In fact, we won’t say anything about them, because the shots are so nice, they can speak for themselves. If we have anything to say, we’ll say it at the end.
And I know it’s out of order, but I had to end with this one:
Oh holy hell. This is one of my favorite shots in the entire franchise. This is so beautiful.
I find that wide shots are underused for my tastes these days, unless it’s an establishing shot. This movie was probably the best in the franchise at giving us a shit ton of really nice looking wide shots, most of which would have normally been done closer. Stuff like the train in the snow or Aragog’s funeral, they add up until this movie is way more enjoyable than it should be on a writing basis alone. I believe that is the goal of effective filmmaking.
See, you say that, but… wait til next week.
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And now for our Honorable Mentions:
- Divine Magic
This was one of those where I did a double take while watching. Normally, you’re not looking at the billboard, but this was something else with the ‘magic’ thing. I liked that. Obviously, the main point to this shot was Dumbledore appearing, which was obviously very cool. This sort of appearance (while something else is going on) reminds me a lot of the Matrix movies; where you see a regular person one time, cut back to the protagonist and then when you go back to the person from before, they’re an agent. That sort of thing. Perhaps it’s simply because I’ve never been smooth enough to pull this shit off, but I always notice stuff like this because it seems either coincidental that the person arrived at precisely that time, or overly planned for effect.
In this case, a train passes, and when it’s gone, Dumbledore is standing there. Now, either he apparated there randomly and just happened to arrive as a train charged through (which seems both convenient and unlikely) or he was somewhere nearby, waiting for the appropriate moment to apparate there for the effect. Which — you don’t want to think about him doing that. It’s a “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” sort of thing. But at any rate, the shot itself was pretty cool, where you see him through the window, having appeared in front of this billboard.
I actually chose the shot right before this (or rather, two before it, since, as Colin said, it’s shot, reverse shot of protagonist, then shot again with person there), just because I didn’t want to focus necessarily on Dumbledore or the billboard. But since Colin chose the shot, I felt I could just talk about my half during my turn and it would work.
And here we are.
I just really liked the cinematography here and how nice the condensation on the window looked. It actually looks really nice when you see the window, wiped away with nothing really to look at. It was just one of those things that made me go, “Goddamn, that looks good.” Because the only part that’s in focus is the part that’s wiped off — it just looks nice. So I got to say all that in this shot, since it’s all basically there too. And we get the Dumbledore bonus.
- “Is that Harry?”
I’m a big fan of architecture, and although this is a fucking barn made of old beams and held together by magic, the idea of an open, unified structure brought together by a central space that runs from the ground level to the top floor is very appealing. This center shaft that unites all the floors with open space is awesome. I love that. This picture just sort of showcases that point.
That’s one thing I’ve noticed during all my movie-watching too. I love architecture. Not like, in a student way, but in a general, “That shit looks nice” way. Seeing a well-built set has become one of my favorite parts of movies (which is why I’m so upset when movies go entirely green-screened, since there’s something amazing about building an entire set of something. Especially a complex one that you can show off during the scenes set on it.
That said, the reason I love this shot isn’t necessarily for the architecture, but rather for the single take. I love that it’s just, one person shows up, then another person shows up, then another person shows up. I love multiple planes operating at once. You don’t see that kind of complexity in filmmaking anymore. It’s a real treat to see something like this.
- This shot.
This is all my doing. I kept it off the main list because it’s essentially the same shot we chose for Azkaban, but I felt it could stay on here because that one had extended dialogue over it, and this one was purely a single shot.
What I love about this shot is how exposition is happening in the foreground, and yet all the important action is happening in the background. It’s a really novel approach to exposition. Because your eye is naturally going to be drawn to the foreground, and the picture of Greyback. So the whole time, this picture is what you want to be looking at. So you’re getting the exposition without them having to say a word about it. And then, the action we’re concerned with, that’s part of the scene, is happening back there. So you’re watching that. You’re watching them follow Draco and Narcissa into Knockturn Alley. Yet the whole time, you’re being fed exposition in the foreground.
That’s good filmmaking. And that’s why I felt this had to be here. Because they did it in Azkaban, but there, the focus was on the long take. Here, it’s on the image.
Mike got it, pretty much. I just enjoyed the scene, and this is one of many shots that could have been chosen.
- “Click click click”
This was one that I couldn’t help but to pick, just because it’s the perfect moment for hilarity. This is when Harry’s on drugs, and he’s talking about spiders and does an imitation of their pincers. But even though he’s acting like a fucking psycho, he turns and sees everyone’s reaction and realizes that perhaps this isn’t the thing to be doing. I love that moment when people realize just how fucking nuts they’re being. He’s clearly still doing the gesture, but his face is like, “Oh, are we not doing this? Is this a solemn occasion?”
Him being on drugs is so awesome. I’m glad we worked in some sort of reference to that.
I almost went with the shot of Slughorn breaking off a piece of Aragog, but I felt this one was immediately funnier. Just about everything Harry does in these scenes is hilarious. Even something as simple as, “Harry!” “Sir!” He’s so clearly strung out it’s incredible.
- Flashback City
Colin and I both chose shots from this flashback in our shortlists. When that happens, I generally do a dual entry and put in both. (Because why not?) He chose the first one and I chose the second one. I’ll let him explain his choice, and I’ll explain mine afterward.
(Also, I wanted to point out that I almost chose this shot as well, but didn’t because it skewed too closely to the opening credits of Skyfall. But I do love when movies go abstract like that. So I’ll always find a way to shout that out.)
To be perfectly honest that was the shot I wanted originally, but I decided against it because it was too much like Skyfall and too abstract — just looking at it you don’t know exactly what the hell it is. For that matter, I’m sure it’s almost 100 percent computer generated. Even still, I’m a huge fan of how they did this, with the drops becoming wisps that then turn into the memory. It’s not just because I loved the fuck out of Skyfall and this reminded me of it — this was first anyway. I genuinely think this whole sequence was both inventive and well-orchestrated in a visual sense.
I chose my shot because I think it’s one of the most brilliantly inventive shots in the franchise. It’s almost something you’d see out of The Third Man. The canted angle as they walk up the stairs (not to mention the great lighting and coloring of the scene), and then the camera rotates as they come up the next flight. It’s an absolutely astounding shot. Another one of those that makes the film geek in me want to nutticum busticus.
- This Girl Is On Fire
Colin and I both chose this shot. Which is interesting. Since it’s one of those — you wouldn’t think we would. But we did.
I — there’s just something about this shot that appeals to me. Wide shot — I like fire — I like how she’s just Wicked Witch appears out of nowhere, I like her pose in front of the fire — this just works for me.
Maybe Colin can explain it better than I can. (He just, looks like a motherfucker that likes pineapple.)
I think it was just one of those, “SURPRISE, MOTHERFUCKER!” shots, which is what makes it so fun. Shit is clearly real, based on what’s going on with the fire business, but when she shows up, she’s cackling maniacally and has pigeon toes like a Rugrats character. Something about that appealed to me, like this is the sort of thing she finds really fun and might even pregame. But as Mike said, something about this pose is viscerally appealing in some way that captivated both of us. This is one of the shots that I picked completely without hesitation.
- This shot
This is another one that Colin and I both chose. This one was more surprising to me than the previous one. I’ll let him explain his thoughts first about this one, because I’m really curious to hear them and to see how similar or different they are from mine.
How could I not have chosen this shot? I mean, I think part of it is that I’ve been watching movies with Mike and doing this blog with him for awhile, so there’s bound to be an influence at some point, but apart from that, this shot clearly appealed to me. First of all, there’s action going on in the foreground and the background, which will always remind me of this shot, which is one of my favorite moments from one of my favorite sequences from one of my favorite movies. Also, I suppose it’s the lighting, but looking at this shot, it seems like Draco’s the one with nothing to fear — walking out in the open, as Harry stalks him in the shadows. For some reason, this sort of thing makes me more wary of Draco than usual — we know he’s up to something, but he’s content to walk around like this. Meanwhile, Harry’s left in the darkness, having to resort to sneakiness and stealth, and yet still learning nothing about what Draco’s up to. It was this sort of shot, and indeed this film (Mike was right when he said Draco peaked here) that made me respect and fear Draco most as a character.
(I love that we both chose this shot.)
I don’t even have anything to add. Multiple planes, shadows, and straight up visual appeal. This is like the one previous. You just look at it and go, “Oh yeah… that’s on.”
- Lovegood Double Feature
It’s basically the same thing we chose. Colin chose the initial cut after Harry says he chose “someone cool” to invite to Slughorn’s holiday party, and I chose a shot later, with the two of them walking up the hallway to the party with the lanterns overhead. Mine skewed more toward the pure aesthetics of the shot, but I also liked that I would be able to mention the fact that he chose her and the dress she’s wearing (from the Ms. Frizzle Collection, I think), so that played into it as well. I’ll stay light on that front, since I know Colin will have more interesting things to say, but essentially — that played a part in my choosing it as well. I just really love those lanterns.
(Also, let’s point out that also during this scene, there’s a great Draco shot that happens as well. I left it off because I didn’t want to repeat essentially the same shot twice. I just wanted to mention it though, because it is quite a beautiful shot and adds a nice twist to what happens later on in the film when Filch brings him inside the party.)
I picked this first shot because, holy fuck is it perfect. They’re talking about how Harry’ll definitely find someone cool to go to the party with, and as soon as they cut, we see this shot of Luna just standing there. I love it when movies say something and then show something else in juxtaposition for comedic effect. We’re thinking, “Who’s cool?” and all of a sudden, we get hit with Luna, which is both awesome and hilarious.
There’s also a sort of gawkiness about her in this image that usually doesn’t get showcased. Something about this dress (maybe how high the hem is) makes her look particularly lanky and a bit awkward. I also mentioned this in the article, but I really love how she’s the one who’s just available — you know she’s around at any given time for anything you could think to invite her to because she’s not the sort of person who’s ever doing real things. She may THINK she’s doing real things, but she’s totally not, so when you ask her to a party with scant notice, she’s still a lock. The only unfortunate bit here is that with his various escapades, Harry doesn’t chill with Luna at the party itself, which would have been amusing.
I always wonder what it would be like to actually hang out with Luna. She seems awesome.
- The Horcrux Cave of Moria
The odds were impossible that Colin and I wouldn’t choose at least one image from this sequence. It’s the best sequence in the film. We both ended up choosing a couple of images (well — Colin chose two. I chose like, five) from the scene and each ended up with just one that we really loved. (See how restrained we are here (for the most part)?)
The first shot is Colin’s, and the second one is mine. We’ll each explain:
The first one had to be chosen because of the sheer badassery, first of all, and second of all, how it reminded me (and many others, I’m sure) of the Captain Commander Genryusai Yamamoto from the anime Bleach. Fire’s kind of his thing, and the first time we see him badassing it, he’s doing a swirling motion like this. But all that aside, it was pretty unexpected considering the shit Harry had just put Dumbledore through. Having been such a bitch throughout the potion thing (I’m sure it sucked) he certainly came about in a big way REAL fast. Especially after having just sat there and watched as this happened. I mean, Harry Potter is just like any other universe, where they give you badass characters and show you what they can do when it counts. This is just one of those times when it’s a cheap, “OOOOOOOOOH SHIT!”
I said why I love this in the article, and it comes down to essentially — “Holy fuck, this cinematography.” This is exactly like in Apocalypse Now, when they’re at the Do Lung bridge, and it’s dead silent, and you just see the flashing light illuminate the characters and then put them in darkness. It’s incredible. Plus you get the tear running down Dumbledore’s face right here. It’s a really powerful image, more so, I feel, than almost all the other ones in the scene.
(I’d also like to point out that I really do love this set, and thought to shout that one out here. But I will always go smaller instead of bigger for something like this, when the whole thing is screaming for bigger. I also love this shot, which is a nice spatial orientation, since when they’re on this thing, you get the sense that it’s a lot bigger than it is. And then you get that shot, and it’s like, “Wow, this thing is actually pretty fucking small.” Plus, it looks so crisp. This looks like something you’d have to do in a Final Fantasy game.)
(Oh, and also — this shot was the runner up, because, again — cinematography. Essentially the same thing with the lighting, only this one called attention to itself more than the other one, which is why I ultimately went with the other one. But man, does this shit look good.)
- This shot
And this shot. Purely of my choosing.
I love shots like this. It reminds me of those TV show credits or something (or even like Winnie the Pooh) where you just pan the camera around a desk of stuff. It reminds me of my childhood. Plus I just love the quiet image of all the man’s important shit on the desk. (We also can’t see it, but just above the frame, there’s a bowl of sherbert lemon drops.)
Not going to comment on the Elder Wand, cause that’s coming later. However, I will say that in a strange way, this shot reminded me of this one from the beginning of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s like a potpourri of random stuff that doesn’t really say much about the person they belonged to, but they remain a powerful image all the same. I can’t really explain it, but I was a big fan of this. I didn’t choose it myself because I guess my reaction to it was relatively contained and personal, but I’m glad Mike chose it to put here.
You actually explained it better than I did. I kept thinking TV, and didn’t even think to go Mockingbird. That explains why it reminds me of my childhood.
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Okay, so, those are our shots.
Before we go, I’ll end with a very important message:
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Tomorrow are our Final Thoughts, and Monday is Deathly Hallows Part 1.
(See the rest of the Fun with Franchises articles here.)