Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince - Looking Backward To Move Forward

Source: Warner Bros

Harry actually has no idea who the Half-Blood Prince is. All he knows is he was the previous owner of an old textbook, which Harry inherited when he enrolled in Professor Slughorn's Potions class. Yates offers, "The book says it is the 'Property of the Half-Blood Prince,' but there is no name and no other record of him, so his identity is an enigma. But whoever he was, he was obviously very smart; he was capable of taking the conventional recipes for certain potions and spells and making them significantly better. He was an original thinker but also quite a dark thinker. The things he came up with eventually lead Harry into some very intense territory."

Handwritten along the margins of the Advanced Potion Making textbook, the notes from the Half-Blood Prince help make Harry even more of a star in Slughorn's class, which plays perfectly into Dumbledore's plans. He knew the Potions professor would try to "collect" Harry and bluntly tells Harry to let him. Michael Gambon explains, "Dumbledore knows Slughorn is hiding some important information about the young Tom Riddle, but he needs Harry to get him to reveal it."

Dumbledore believes that the key to Lord Voldemort's defeat lies in his past; therefore he has been gathering any memories he can of Tom Riddle, trying to glean when and how Riddle gained the knowledge that enabled him to become, as he says, "the most dangerous Dark Wizard of all time." Each memory he procures is carefully labeled and stored in a glass vial, including his own earliest recollections. Taking one out, he pours the contents into a floating Pensieve and shows Harry his first memory of Tom Riddle as a mere child.

Harry watches as a younger Dumbledore arrives at Wool's Orphanage. Production designer Stuart Craig says that the exterior of the orphanage was inspired by a building he came across while location scouting on the dockside in Liverpool. "There was this monolithic brick structure that dominated everything around it," he describes. "It was very sinister, very prison-like, and the design grew out of that. For the interior we used this glazed tile that was typical of Victorian institutions because it was durable and easy to clean. It has a dark, oppressive look that perfectly suited the environment we wanted to create for the orphanage."

Inside the orphanage, Dumbledore is led to a cheerless room and is greeted by the cold stare of the young Tom Riddle. The part of the 11-year-old Tom is played by Hero Fiennes Tiffen, who happens to be the nephew of Ralph Fiennes, the actor who portrays Lord Voldemort. "Tom is a dark, gloomy boy," says Tiffen, who was age 10 when he won the role of Tom Riddle as a boy. "He has these special powers and he can hurt anyone who is mean to him. He doesn't have any friends at the orphanage, so he steals other people's things because it makes him feel close to them. It's very sad."

"Hero was fantastic," Heyman states. "He is a lovely, charming boy, yet he was able to create an eerie detachment and a sense of control that I think is chilling onscreen."

"He's absolutely the sweetest kid you'd ever want to meet," Yates confirms. "He took direction so well. It wasn't difficult because he's quite charismatic, so it was just a matter of switching off any emotion and letting him be very still and very calm."

Dumbledore tells Tom that, at Hogwarts, he will be taught how to use and control magic. He leaves not knowing the wheels he has unwittingly set in motion, "but it is scary to realize that the die was cast all those years ago," says David Barron.

Dumbledore later shows Harry another memory, this one of a 16-year-old Tom Riddle, who has become one of Horace Slughorn's prized pupils. Frank Dillane, who plays the teenaged Riddle, notes, "Tom is very charming but very manipulative. His relationship with Slughorn is a bit topsy-turvy. I mean, in the student/teacher relationship, the teacher should be the one that commands authority. But from what we see, Tom is the one who appears to be pulling the strings."

"Frank did an amazing job of conveying that there is something brewing just beneath the surface," Barron says. "Tom is exceedingly polite, yet there is something vaguely threatening about him that obviously unnerves Slughorn."

On this particular evening, Tom lingers after one of Slughorn's gatherings and asks him about "a bit of rare magic." But Slughorn angrily cuts him off, refusing even to discuss such matters and ordering him out of the room.

Harry is understandably confused until Dumbledore explains that the memory is a lie. It has been altered by the one whose memory it is: Horace Slughorn. And whatever information Slughorn did impart to Tom could lead them to the only way to defeat Voldemort. Somehow, Harry must get Slughorn to overcome his guilt and his fear and divulge what, in truth, he remembers.

"This represents a real progression for Harry as a character," Yates observes. "Harry is fighting a war so when Dumbledore tells him that, with this memory, they could defeat Voldemort, that's all he needs to know. Killing Voldemort is what primarily drives Harry, so Slughorn becomes just a means to an end. It is a definite departure to see Harry Potter working this guy to get what he wants."

The objective to find and, hopefully, destroy the source of Voldemort's immortality and power sends Harry and Dumbledore on a perilous journey to an isolated cave set deep within a windswept cliff. Stuart Craig recalls, "When we were doing our location scouts, we found the Cliffs of Moher in the west of Ireland and immediately thought they would be spectacular for the entrance of the cave."

The filmmakers wanted the cave interior to seem vast beyond measure, "so there was no possibility of building that physically," Craig acknowledges. "Apart from the point at which Harry and Dumbledore first arrive and the island formation on which everything inside the cave happens, the set is entirely virtual, designed in the computer. We'd had our first totally virtual set on the last film, so we approached this one with a bit more confidence."

The interior of the cave appears to be made up of geometric crystal formations, so Craig and his team began by researching various rock formations. They also visited a quartz crystal cave and a salt crystal cave to study the properties of crystal surfaces. "Reproducing salt crystals requires some major R&D and a lot of experimenting with synthetic resins," the designer remarks. "The challenge was to create something that was magical but credible at the same. It was also a challenge for Tim Burke and our visual effects team and also for (director of photography) Bruno Delbonnel. How do you light this glowing crystal island in the middle of a huge black void? Everybody was part of the process; it was an exciting collaboration."

Within the recesses of the cave, Harry and Dumbledore face terrible dangers as, for the first time, Harry is forced by Dumbledore to take control. Radcliffe states, "When Dumbledore takes Harry on this mission, it is sort of a rite of passage. He is initiating Harry into what he is ultimately going to have to do. This is the beginning of the story of defeating Voldemort, and Harry would never shirk that responsibility."

And, whether or not they succeed, new and even more terrible threats await them at Hogwarts.

Heyman reflects, "There is a line in the film where Dumbledore says, 'Once again, I must ask too much of you, Harry.' Does he feel guilt? I don't know if he feels guilt, but he knows that Harry is growing up, and I think this is all part of the education of Harry Potter. Dumbledore knows that ultimately Harry is going to be the one who has to face Voldemort, and in introducing him to Slughorn and exposing him to some of Voldemort's history and taking him on the journey that he does, he is preparing Harry for the final battle that lies ahead."

See Also: The New Harry Potter Makes Its North American Premiere July 9th / The Night Harry Potter Made London Stand Still / Potter Star Radcliffe Shows A Different Side In Details Magazine Interview / Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Release Pushed Back Until The Summer Of 2009 /Sex And Drugs In The New Harry Potter Movie!?

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