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LA Times Interview with Screenwriter Steve Kloves on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

HBP Film
Posted by: sue
June 17, 2009, 01:33 PM

The Hero blog for the LA Times is launching a Harry Potter countdown with a series of new articles, the first being a new and rare interview with screenwriter Steve Kloves. In this interview, Mr. Kloves speaks about some canon tidbits he learned while working with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, some of the pivotal moments in his adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, including the decision to cut out some scenes, as well as the final dramatic moments of the story, with the screenwriter giving high praise to actor Alan Rickman as Snape.While the entire interview is quite fascinating and well worth reading, here are some particular quotes of interest:

What, if anything, can you say about the climactic moment between Snape and Dumbledore? In the book, it’s a short but intense scene.
It is informed by everything [Potter readers] have come to know is true. So if you watch the film carefully, there are performance moments that are quite extraordinary, Alan Rickman [who plays Snape] especially. There is something we added that you can look forward to, a short scene between Harry and Snape prior to the big event. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays to the audience. It should be a haunting moment for Harry. While I was writing, I just had a notion about a moment between him and Snape, something Harry could look back on and question as to why he didn’t act differently.
I’ve also read that most of Dumbledore's pensieve memories of young Voldemort, then Tom Riddle, have been cut from the film. (Not to mention: Dumbledore's funeral!)

In my original draft, I had every single memory but one, I believe. I even dramatized a couple of things that weren’t in the book in terms of Voldemort, like the death of Tom’s parents, things like that. I'm a Harry Potter fan, so my first drafts tend to reflect that, in that they tend to be long and all-inclusive. When [director] David Yates came in, he had a very specific point of view, which was that he wanted to showcase Voldemort’s rise without getting overly involved with his past as Riddle. He didn’t think that most of the memories would be as compelling on-screen as they are on the page. He liked them in the script, but he really felt that in the movie experience Voldemort’s story was more important than young Riddle‘s. We went back and forth on that for quite a bit. But he was very convincing, and I think it wound up working out well.
Are there any other changes or additions that you can talk about?
I know one thing David is very proud of is getting Quidditch right. I do think it’s the first time that it feels like a sport. And it’s comic, which is fun. Rupert Grint [who plays Ron] is great. We also do a lot with the kids coming of age, navigating sexual politics and all that. It’s pretty interesting to see these characters doing that because the movies have always been a bit chaste, and they continue to be on some level, but there’s more happening in this one. You realize how complicated it is between boys and girls. It’s a lot of fun seeing Ron navigate his first girlfriend
What kind of things do you run by Rowling?

A range of things, even something really simple. I once asked about the 12 uses of dragon’s blood, which is referenced in the books. There are writers who would write “12 uses of dragon’s blood” and not have a clue what they are; it just sounds cool. But I emailed her to ask (and this was 10 years ago), and 25 seconds later I get an email back with a list.
Do tell. She's only mentioned "oven cleaner" in interviews.
One is an oven cleaner, yes. Another is a spot remover. . . . It was really amazing. Really, the books are only the thinnest surface of what she knows about the series. Where Jo is helpful in a more serious way for me is when I want to know more about motivation or background, when Harry realized certain things, when characters understood things. There was one case where I was violating a plot thing -- it had something to do with Dobby, I think -- and she said, "No, you don’t want to do that," as she knew what was to come. She’s a great resource for problem solving and she has such a facile mind, she can help with complicated things. Though her plots are so fiendish that they’re really difficult for cinema.

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56 Comments

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147 Points

I am sorry that there will be no Gaunts… I had Michael Caine as Marvolo in my mind and Jude Law as Morphin.
I am REALLY sorry that there will be no Dursleys as one of my favorite parts from HBP is Kreatcher yelling “Won’t! Won’t! Won’t!” – classic.

Posted by realspace on June 17, 2009, 04:31 PM report to moderator
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1317 Points

Why did no one ask him about burning down the Burrow? What was that all about? Did not happen! And no Dumbledore funeral OMG that was a tear jerking moment in the book! Yes, I realize that the movies are “based on” the books but can we keep the defining moments PLEASE!

Posted by hewy on June 17, 2009, 07:06 PM report to moderator
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59 Points

Speaking of . . . how does the coming together of Ginny and Harry play out when we’ve all fallen for Cho Chang in the previous films?

It’s interesting in the way it’s played out. I’m very happy with the moment they consummate their feelings. It was a nice scene and David did it really well. It’s sweet."

Sweet. In other words, it’s probably going to be less than Cho. Not the passionate “sunlit days” from the book.

I agree that Kloves comments makes the Harry/Ginny “sweet” relationship sound throughly underwhelming, even dissapointing… I guess the film makers are far more interested in the the Hermione/Ron/Lavender love triangle

Posted by Old_gnarled_woman on June 17, 2009, 10:18 PM report to moderator
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24135 Points

I was very nervous reading this interview.

Posted by hermyone*ROAR* on June 17, 2009, 11:23 PM report to moderator
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198 Points

“The only thing that matters to me is that you stay true to the characters.” So that’s always been the one thing I feel very much in charge of, protecting the characters, and it’s the thing that upsets me the most when I feel the characters are being violated. That’s when I push back hard."

You kill me, Kloves. You kill me ded. Could one engrave these wise words into a big ol’ stone and slap you across the head with it every time one of Ron’s important moments goes to another character? Or ANY important moment goes to Hermione? Just wondering….

Posted by NinnyTreetops on June 18, 2009, 01:53 AM report to moderator
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341 Points

Agreed, NinnyTreetops. :)

Posted by ScottMan on June 18, 2009, 01:57 AM report to moderator
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Well, I am certainly intrigued by this new scene with Snape and Harry — anything to get Alan more screentime, it’s more than fine by me. If I wasn’t already looking forward to this movie…

Posted by LauraBC on June 18, 2009, 02:11 AM report to moderator
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774 Points

you know , it kinda gets on my nerves when they say they have to take out scenes for length reasons, but then they add other scenes that were not in the book (like the attack on the burrow).

Posted by iheartpink(ROAR) on June 18, 2009, 03:30 AM report to moderator
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98 Points

Guys chill out…the movies are ALWAYS different from the books and don’t turn LOTR into this idealistic thing…Don’t get me wrong I am a fan of the movies but they were soooooooo long and it was kinda boring at some moments so we have no guarantee that the HP movies, if matching the books 100%, will be as excellent as they are right now!

Posted by HarryLoony on June 18, 2009, 03:56 AM report to moderator
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98 Points

Just watch the movie then judge afterward!

Posted by HarryLoony on June 18, 2009, 03:58 AM report to moderator
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44049 Points

Too bad Jo hasn’t decided to become a film director yet :D

Posted by Dolemite [FTC!] on June 18, 2009, 04:30 AM report to moderator
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288 Points

“Speaking of . . . how does the coming together of Ginny and Harry play out when we’ve all fallen for Cho Chang in the previous films?

It’s interesting in the way it’s played out. I’m very happy with the moment they consummate their feelings. It was a nice scene and David did it really well. It’s sweet."

Sweet. In other words, it’s probably going to be less than Cho. Not the passionate “sunlit days” from the book.

Posted by Fereverto on June 18, 2009, 04:38 AM report to moderator
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No one is arguing that a film version of the book can include everything. Fans take issue with the manner of adaptation, and the disconnected hodgepodge of money scenes from the book of OOTP that made up the film does not inspire much hope for David Yates as head of the helm here. HBP is structured around the memory scenes, and act as a springboard into the final book’s journey. There is no viable movie without them. The filmmakers have to rewrite around their absence to include the information they possess, when a straightforward approach would have sufficed so much better.

The main complaints are: the director makes decisions to eliminate pertinent scenes, because they would be difficult to recreate on film, and producers want to fit in more screenings per day to increase box office revenue. Thus they would never argue with the resultant, decreased, running time. So the desire to shorten the movies is often a combination of corporate profiteering and directorial ignorance (OOTP was Yates first film, and failed to provide even a passable simulacrum of the book’s power, all the while cutting away, and horribly maneuvering through the remains of, the thematic and emotional landscape of Rowling’s world). What really irks about this is that the studios’ coffers would not suffer from a better, slightly richer adaptation, (fans would see a great adaptation many times, “ok” adaptations not as repeatedly) and the creative tailoring of the story often creates more logistic problems than it solves, making everyone wonder why the film could not have followed the book a little more. If the deleted scenes’ information proved so pivotal that it necessitated inclusion in the film, then why could the director not have found a balance between honoring his own desires and the demands of the source material? So far, Yates’ approach has yielded awkward slivers of the original scenes crudely jerry-rigged into the film, disrupting the tone and continuity of the story. How is this approach better?

It is always difficult to bring an accurate and autonomous vision of a book to the screen. Many of the elements of great literature always resist easy translation. Great directors somehow manage to accomplish this, retaining their own voice while honoring that of another artist’s at the same time. It is a very difficult, and rarely well-executed, task and Yates has not met the challenge thus far. Lovers of the books who want a great film recognize the incumbent failure of his approach when they hear that he considered 1) the linch pin of HBP and the series’ end (Riddle’s past), and 2) the send-off of a most significant character, the hero’s paternal mentor throughout, unimportant because of the difficulty inherent in bringing them to the screen without sacrificing his vision. His vision is incumbent upon that of Rowling so that is not an argument. It’s a cop-out. He couldn’t figure out how to balance the two, so he gave up and mangled the story. Those are the words of a hack, not a great artist. And he has yet to produce anything, including his TV work, to disavow his detractors of their reticence to trust his creative instincts.

Posted by moonyloony on June 18, 2009, 04:55 AM report to moderator
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2525 Points

I wouldnt mind a 6 hour movie. i have been following Harry potter for almost 9 years and will keep going even though the series is over. Its hard to believe but some people havent read it yet.

Posted by The Nerd on June 18, 2009, 05:38 AM report to moderator
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360 Points

great…interview….i cannot wait for the scence….
i hate yates x3…..

Posted by potterrock on June 18, 2009, 06:22 AM report to moderator
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