Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the sixth chapter in the franchise and perhaps the most important for Harry and his friends, when Voldemort is back in full force and menacing both the Muggle and the wizard worlds. But the story begins its narrative much differently in the film version than in the book. Although its intention is the same, and both versions carry a rather similar tone, they’re much different in scope and spectacle.
The Half-Blood Prince film is carefully centered on the relationship between Dumbledore and Harry, and the filmmakers decided to pick up exactly from the end of The Order of the Phoenix. Therefore, and after witnessing the tragic death of Sirius Black, the first shot is an emotionally and physically shattered Harry being carefully guided by Dumbledore through a crowd of flashing journalists. The dark tone is subsequently enhanced by the state of fear that follows. With no more need for secrecy, Death Eaters now roam even more freely, forging grim weather and causing havoc in both worlds.
In the book version, the Muggle Prime Minister, who is not given a name, cannot grasp the cause of such chaos. That is, until Fudge calls for an audience and explains that despite countless efforts to erase memories and sustain damages, war is upon them and will affect both worlds. Fudge tells him he’s been replaced by a new Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour, who arrives moments later. The meeting is a sinister warning and becomes even grimmer given the broad scale of the threat. It also mentions an incident with a bridge that might have inspired filmmakers to use it as the main threat to the Muggles at the film’s start.
The ministers’ meeting serves to underline the seriousness of the situation, even to the Muggle world, which a layer of oblivion and protection had always surrounded. Its simplicity and dialogue casts an ominous tone far greater than any other incident. But, by being replaced with the attack on the bridge, the filmmakers are conveying the same message, albeit with more spectacle and a larger scope, which enhances the threat of the dark forces. Yet, it also leaves audiences wondering which would’ve been the better choice.
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