While Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (or "Harry Potter 6," as the AMC theatre marquee had it listed) is racking up critical superlatives, I hadn't read or heard anything about how downright gay the latest movie can be perceived.
I have not been a devotee of the books, but had read author J.K. Rowling's post-publication outing of Hogwarts' headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. One can see that the revelation has colored actor Michael Gambon's interpretation of the character ever so slightly. Frankly, I was more suspicious of the late Richard Harris's take on Dumbledore in the first two Potter films. His performance was more fey, but whether this was intentionally so or the result of Harris's weakening health will likely forever be unknown.
Then there's the latest movie's addition of potions professor Horace Slughorn, wonderfully played in older and younger versions by Jim Broadbent. Slughorn is given to inviting his most promising — and mostly male — students to private dinner parties in his salon. These scenes reminded me eerily of such soirees held by certain, former professors of mine while I was in seminary. Do I even need to mention these academics' sexual orientation?
Of course, these adult male figures — in addition to the series' arch villain, Lord Voldemort (who doesn't make an appearance in this installment) — can be said to have the hots for young, talented Harry Potter, once again well-played by Daniel Radcliffe. While their interest is presented as strictly platonic and professional, it isn't hard to read more into it.
The always heterosexually-questionable Professor Snape (the ever-delicious Alan Rickman) takes more of an interest in the icy Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton, growing up nicely) in Half-Blood Prince. And yet, Snape's influence over Harry's destiny continues to make itself felt.
Finally, there is an amusing sequence in the film in which Harry's best buddy, Ron (a buffed-up Rupert Grint), falls victim to a love potion intended for Harry. While under the influence of the potent concoction, Ron gets to moon a bit over Harry and even more so over Professor Slughorn!
GLBT viewers may feel I'm reading WAY too much into an ultimately innocent, though dark, entertainment for young people. Christian fundamentalists, who have long been opposed to Rowling's creation whether in print or on film, may take my observations as confirmation that Harry Potter is indeed inspired by Satan.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is a good but not great entry in the seemingly endless movie series. It definitely feels like a pit stop, neither introducing nor concluding much. The film's main purpose seems to be reminding folks of what has come before while apparently setting things up for a climactic showdown between the forces of good and evil that is to come in the final two films. It accomplishes this well.
Editor's note: For more gay goings-on at Hogwarts, take Out Magazine's Which Gay Harry Potter Character Are You? quiz.
UPDATE: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is now available on DVD and Blu-rayfrom Amazon.com.
Review by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Orange County and Long Beach Blade.