The first trailer for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” hit the Net, and with it comes our first real look at how director David Yates is tackling the series’ sixth big-screen installment.
And boy, is it … different.
We can’t magic you to the film’s November release date, so in the meantime check out our exhaustive shot-by-shot analysis of the trailer to discover what we can expect to see when “HBP” hits wide this fall. Timecodes count up from the beginning of the trailer, which you can watch here on MTV.com.
0:07: An overhead shot of the Hogwarts Express, winding its way through the Northern English landscape. As for Harry himself, the appearance of the train signals to viewers that we’re in familiar territory. Welcome back.
0:10: Snow falls over Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
0:12: Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith) leads a group of students down a corridor at Hogwarts. The temptation is to say that the scene takes place at the end of term, prior to Dumbledore’s funeral, but there are too many smiling faces in the crowd. Its placement in the trailer is nonetheless a shrewd one, however — another brief glimpse at familiarity and routine, signaling to viewers that another year of school has begun for young British witches and wizards.
0:14: A cabinet containing storied memories spins as Dumbledore is heard in voice-over: “What you are looking at are memories.” What I am looking at is a vial in the upper-right frame labeled differently than all the others, with a symbol rather than the name “Thomas Marvolo Riddle.” The sign of the Deathly Hallows? Close, but no cigar. The simple triangle is not bisected by a line nor surrounded by a circle. Still, one wonders what it does signal.
0:18: “In this case,” Dumbledore continues, as we get a close-up of actor Michael Gambon, Harry in the background, “pertaining to one individual.” Voldemort, of course.
0:21: Dumbledore’s hand comes into frame, holding one memory. “This is perhaps the most important memory I have collected,” he says to Harry. “I’d like you to see it.”
0:27: We zoom through the Warner Bros. logo.
0:33: Harry dips his head into the Pensieve, and is transported through memory to …
0:35: “A bustling, old-fashioned London street” as it says in the book (Page 263). Under heavy rain, Dumbledore makes his way toward Wool’s Orphanage to inform young Tom Riddle that he is a wizard.
0:36: A zoom in on the orphanage, a cold, industrial building guarded by high brick fences and wrought-iron gates. A foreboding place from which there is no escape.
0:40: A title card reads “To Know the Future” as Ms. Cole, the headmistress of the orphanage, is heard in voice-over. “In all the years Tom’s been here, he’s never once had a visitor,” she says as the image onscreen shifts to Ms. Cole leading Dumbledore up a winding staircase. Notice how the frame is slightly tilted, how the composition makes the staircases resemble something out of an Escher drawing. It’s an subconscious clue that things aren’t as they should be here, that we will quickly leave what we might metaphorically call “solid ground.” There is an evil that lurks in these halls.
0:43: Our first glimpse at young Tom Riddle, the boy wizard who would grow up to be Voldemort. Surprisingly, I’m more interested here in Dumbledore, who is costumed differently than in the novel, where he was described as wearing “flamboyantly plum velvet.”
0:46: A second title card completes the earlier sentence: “Return to the Past.” Riddle is heard in voice-over: “You’re a doctor, aren’t you?” he asks. “Who are you?” One of the best scenes in the book gets featured front and center here, as Yates follows Rowling’s lead in showcasing the Dumbledore/Voldemort battle of wills. As much as “Half-Blood Prince” is the story of Harry vs. He Who Shall Not Be Named, it’s equally the story of Dumbledore vs. Riddle. Even as the older, wiser wizard, Dumbledore is drawn here into defending himself by the precocious monster.
0:58: “I’m different,” Dumbledore says. “Prove it,” responds Riddle. Instantly, his cabinet is set aflame. In the novel, of course, we learn that he was keeping stolen objects in there, a harbinger of his need to collect trophies.
1:00: Riddle begins his full confession to Dumbledore as Harry sprints through a field, desperately trying to outrun a presumed attacker. This is almost certainly during an added scene at the Burrow, previously discussed at length in our Movies Blog.
1:02: Our first glimpse of Fenrir Greyback, the feral werewolf who needs to feed even when not fully transformed.
1:04: Ginny Weasley in the field, wearing her pajamas.
1:06: “I can make bad things happen,” Riddle continues as Ron Weasley lies stiff on the floor of Professor Slughorn’s office, seemingly dead. It’s not Riddle, of course, who poisons Ron with tainted wine, but Draco Malfoy (which comes to the same, really). It will take Harry’s quick thinking and a handy bezoar to save him.
1:07: Dumbledore puts on the Gaunt’s ring, an artifact simultaneously a Horcrux and a Hallow (the symbol of the Hallows is, in fact, visible on the emerald surface of the stone). This scene is not glimpsed in the novels until “Deathly Hallows.” Dumbledore quickly recoils as a flash of old Voldemort is seen.
1:08: On an island in the middle of an underground lake, Dumbledore casts a fire spell, surrounding Harry and himself in a ring of flame and driving off the Inferi (animated corpses controlled by a Dark Wizard). This is immediately after drinking from Voldemort’s Horcrux potion, which has made him relive his very worst memory ever.
1:12: “I can speak to snakes too,” Riddle finishes. Oddly, it is this pronouncement that seems to stop Dumbledore dead in his tracks. Parseltongue has long been associated with the dark arts, though, of course, there are those who have the power among the great and the good too. It’s yet another departure from the novel.
1:18: Several more shots of Voldemort.
1:22: “Hedwig’s Theme,” yet another familiar cue, this time musical, closes the trailer as the title of the film comes onscreen. A final snippet of conversation between Dumbledore and Harry, taken straight from the book, is heard.
Check out everything we’ve got on “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”
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