Proof That "Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince" Had The Most Beautiful Cinematography
Cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel made this movie look truly incredible.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has a strikingly different look and mood from the rest of the series.
That is, in part, because it's the only Potter film that cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel worked on.
The images tell a lot of the story without any need for dialogue, in part because of Delbonnel's work.
Delbonnel also worked on Amélie and Inside Llewyn Davis, and you can see both his ability to be dreary as well as his ability to make a movie seem whimsical and magical working together in HBP.
This quirky shot in the Burrow is strangely cozy, setting the mood for the space.
And the shot of the Hogwarts Express heading to school...
...is considerably more cheery than the shot of it heading back to King's Cross in the middle of the year.
Shots within the school from earlier in the year are brightly lit and show a lot of life and bustle.
Including this glimpse into the Great Hall.
However, as the year goes on...
...characters are increasingly more isolated.
The lighting of each scene seems to get darker and contain less color as we get closer to the end.
Even the Quidditch pitch, once Harry's place of joy, looks foreboding.
Symmetry is a big motif in the film.
Although there are often small details that disrupt that symmetry, creating a slight sense of unease about what's to come.
Color often reflects the action or emotion of a scene, such as Harry's burning hatred for Bellatrix.
Or Malfoy's increasing despair.
"Some of the sets are there since the very first Potter," Delbonnel said when asked about the challenges he faced. "How could I light them in a different way?"
Delbonnel also mentioned that he considered Hogwarts itself to be sort of a "dark character" in the story.
Indeed, the halls seem to engulf characters in times of higher stress.
And a good amount of screen time is dedicated to showing its protection.
Delbonnel also found ways to creatively frame characters that simultaneously gave a sense of intimacy along with a sense of scale.
Here, Harry and Dumbledore's task seems insurmountable.
And Harry seems even more helpless in this long shot of his duel against Snape.
Delbonnel noted that HBP is "less about the big fights than the relationships between characters."
Which might be why this closer shot was chosen for Dumbledore's death.
Or why the camera finds details of each character to focus on, even in moments of action.
The bare Great Hall, again an instance of Hogwarts acting as a character of sorts, speaks for itself.
It's no surprise that Delbonnel was nominated for an Academy Award for this incredibly beautiful film.
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