Australian Council on Children and the Media

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

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Not recommended under 12, PG to 15 (Violence, Disturbing scenes and themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
  • a review of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 July 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 8-11 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes.
Children aged 12-15 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes and themes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Fantasy violence
Length 153 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

As Lord Voldemort’s power increases, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is transported by Professor Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) to a small village. Here they visit the hideout of Professor Horace Slughorn (Jim Broadbent), an old potions teacher whom Dumbledore wants to lure back to Hogwarts. Apparently Slughorn, who once taught Tom Riddle/Voldemort, has hidden memories that Dumbledore desperately needs.
Dumbledore asks Harry to befriend Professor Slughorn in hope that Harry can entice Slughorn into revealing his hidden memory. During a potions class, Harry discovers am old text book belonging to the “Half-Blood Prince” and with the assistance of the book, Harry soon becomes Professor Slughorn’s star pupil. Meanwhile Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), who has been charged with a special task by Voldemort spends all of his spare time experimenting with a vanishing cabinet.    
Romance is blossoming between Harry and Ginny Weasley (Bonny Wright), and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), but not without some typical teenage traumas. Harry spends his Christmas break with the Weasleys, and while there is lured into a field and attacked by several Death Eaters including Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter). He manages to escape, but not before Bellatrix sets fire to the Weasley’s house, burning it to the ground.
Back at Hogwarts, Harry’s struggles continue. Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) has been enlisted to help Draco to do Voldemort’s evil work. Slughorn is persuaded to reveal his hidden memory and Harry and Dumbledore learn that Voldemort uncovered dark magic that enabled him to split his soul into seven parts, with each part hidden in a magical device called a Horcrux.

Harry’s quest is now to find all seven Horcruxes.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Magic and the supernatural; death and grief; teenage relationships

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince contains some violence but with minimal blood and gore. Examples include:

  • Swirling black vapours (Death Eaters) swoop sown from the skies, crashing through shop front windows with window glass exploding and causing London’s Millenium Bridge to sway and buckle uncontrollably with people running and screaming along the collapsing bridge. We see an image of Dumbledore with a severely blackened hand, and we learn that Dumbledore’s wrecked hand was the result of his attempt to destroy a Horcrux.
  • When Dumbledore and Harry enter Professor Slughorn’s hideout it has the appearance of a violent struggle having taken place. There are claw marks scratched into the wall, smashed furnishings, and blood dripping from the ceiling. Some of the blood drips onto Harry’s face.
  • In a more brutal example, Draco Malfoy kicks Harry in the head while Harry is lying unconscious on the ground. A short time later we see Harry with a badly deformed and bleeding nose. When a fellow student offers to use magic to fix Harry’s nose we hear the sound of bones breaking, hear Harry shout out in pain and then see Harry’s nose completely repaired.
  • After touching a cursed necklace, a student rises in the air with her arms outstretched as if crucified with a, terrified look on her face and then falls to the ground. She later recovers from her injuries and we hear that she is lucky to be alive.
  • When the Death Eaters attack the Weasley’s house, they create a wall of flames that surround the house. Harry and Ginny are cornered in a field and threatened by Death Eaters with an exchange of blasts between the Death Eaters, Harry and Ginny (lots of flashes of light and lightening); no one is injured. The Death Eaters rise into the air as black smoke and then attack the Weasley’s house which erupts in a ball of flames.
  • After being given poisoned wine, Ron collapses and falls to the ground frothing at the mouth and then stops breathing. Harry frantically searches through a potions cupboard and then put something into Ron’s mouth which causes Ron to recover. 
  • Harry and Draco attack each other, using their wands to blast each other. At the end of the fight Harry hits Draco in the chest with a curse that leaves Draco unconscious on the floor with several bloody chest wounds.
  • In order to gain entrance to a cave, Dumbledore cuts his hand with a knife so that he can spill his blood on the rocks (no blood is depicted).
  • After drinking poisoned water Dumbledore begin to shake and go into a fit. Dumbledore cries and begs Harry not to make him drink any more, but Harry keeps forcing Dumbledore to drink the poison until it is all gone. When Harry goes to the edge of a lake to get Dumbledore some water, he is attacked by creatures that rise up out of the lake and pull him down under the water. Dumbledore recovers enough to enable him to use his wand to create a fire storm, engulfing the creatures in flames and enabling Harry to escape.
  • Draco tells Dumbledore that he has to kill him because otherwise he will be killed by Voldemort. Dumbledore manages to convince Draco not to murder him and Draco lowers his wand. Snape arrives and kills Dumbledore who falls from the top of a tower to the ground below. Following Dumbledore’s death, Bellatrix uses her powers to explode numerous windows and then burns Hagrid’s hut to the ground. Harry chases after Snape with Harry trying to blast Snape with his wand, but Snape manages deflect Harry’s curses with Harry left unconscious on the ground as a result.
  • We see a very upset and distraught Harry crying over Dumbledore’s body.     

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • In a couple of scenes the image of a giant skull forms out of dark clouds.
  • Menacing images of swirling black ink-like vapours (Death Eaters) travelling at great speed fly through the air
  • In one scene a lounge chair transforms into a man. The transformation occurs in stages.
  • We see a dead giant spider (from an earlier Harry Potter film) and see a man rip one on the dead spider’s fangs off in an attempt to extract spider venom.
  • A skeletal hand/arm appears suddenly out of a lake in an attempt to grab hold of Harry. Hundreds of creatures then rise out of the lake and swarm over Harry, pulling him under the water.   
  • In a couple of scenes Dumbledore is seen with a blackened diseased hand.
  • Snape grasps the hand of Draco Malfoy’s mother and magical bonds wrap around their hands while they recite an oath.
  • We see images of a man who is also a werewolf. While we do not see the man transformed as a werewolf, we get a quick glimpse of the man with fangs and his general appearance is scary, threatening and menacing.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the above scenes, as well as scenes where main characters are distressed, particularly when Harry cries over Dumbledore’s body.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above mentioned scenes.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

The film contains occasional low-level sexual innuendoes and references. Examples include

  • A Hogwarts boy asks Harry if he would mind introducing him to Hermione with the boy telling Harry that he wouldn’t mind being on a first name basis with Hermione “If you know what I mean.” Later, Harry tells Hermione that the boy “…has a bit of a thing for you.”
  • A boy sucks his finger in a suggestive manner while looking at Hermione.
  • On one occasion, Hermione refers to one Hogwarts boy who was pursuing her as “Having more tentacles than…” While the same male refers Hermione as being a “Slippery little minx.”
  • In relation to his girlfriend Lavender Brown, Ron Weasley tells Harry “All she wants to do is snog me… my lips are getting chapped.”
  • A student asks Harry “did you and Ginny do it then?”

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Hermione often stares longingly at Ron when no one else is looking.
  • Ginny Weasley kisses Harry tenderly on the lips. 
  • Ron passionately kisses a girl on the mouth.
  • Hermione wears a low cut top that reveals cleavage.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Harry, Ron and Hermione sit in a tavern drinking.
  • Professor Slughorn holds a party and we see Hogwarts students dressed as waiters serving wine glasses filled with an undefined liquid.
  • Ron eats a box of chocolates laced with a strong love potion and acts as if high on love.
  • Professor Slughorn gives Ron a “pick-me-up” which turns out to be lace with poison.   
  • Hagrid and Professor Slughorn drink alcohol from large mugs, singing and behaving in a drunken rowdy manner. Hagrid passes out leaning back in his seat mouth open and snoring.

Coarse language

There is occasional low-level coarse language and minor putdowns in this movie. Examples include tosser, nosey, barmy, you idiot, slick git, looser, dragon balls, bloody lucky, bloody, daft dimbo,   

In a nutshell

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince the sixth fantasy in the series, is solid entertainment and contains some genuinely funny and clever humour and stunning special effects. While milder in terms of scary images and violence than other Harry Potter films, the film is a little darker and has higher levels of emotion, romance and mature themes than its predecessors, reflecting the increasing age of Harry and his friends.
The film’s main messages are that

  • trust in each other is all important; doubting one another will lead to defeat
  • to overcome insurmountable odds you must be able to rely on your friends for friendship, help and support.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include courage and selflessness.

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