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Oscar-Nominated "Half-Blood Prince" Cinematographer Delbonnel Talks Potter

Filmmaker Interviews
Posted by: Rosi
March 01, 2010, 10:54 AM

As part of its Nominee Questionnaire, has a new interview online with Bruno Delbonnel, who has been nominated for an Oscar for Achievement in Cinematography for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince." The cinematographer - who has worked on "Amélie" and "Across the Universe" - discusses his childhood dreams, his decision to switch from directing to cinematography and the hurdles in his career, alongside discussion of "Half-Blood Prince" itself. In response to a question about the biggest challenge Delbonnel faced whilst working on the film, the cinematographer said:

[It] was to be as good as the previous cinematographers who worked on HP (...) but different. Some of the sets are there since the very first Potter. How could I light them in a different way? This question brought another one based on the series itself. It was Potter number six, the story was less about the big fights than the relationships between the characters. Nevertheless the drama is still there and I thought it would be interesting to have those very intimate stories amidst this very dark mood. As if the school was a dark character. That's when I suggested to go for this (again) dark moody variations of grays.
Delbonnel also spoke of the "technical challenge" approaching the cave scene:
I wanted to have some kind of 'dynamism' with the light. The scene is quite static in front of the crystal bowl on an island which was not that big. I thought it could be interesting and more dramatic if the light was floating, circling above the characters' faces; sometimes lighting them, sometimes hiding them in a very random and unpredictable way.
The cinematographer cites seeing the dailies of the cave scene as one of the most memorable parts of the film for him, seeing the light "disappearing on Dumbledore's face just in the middle of one of his lines" because of the "tension and drama" it added "only with the use of light in a simple way." Delbonnel, considering why he said no to the last Harry Potter when he was asked to do it, comments, "I think I was scared of repeating myself. Needed to move on."

You can find the full Nominee Questionnaire here on the website. The 82nd Annual Academy Awards take place on the 7th of March.

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200 Points

Gee, I thought the loss of light was a mistake, so I ignored it.
Maybe the next Cinematographer can complicate things so much that the scenes are unrecognizable :-)

Posted by trontech on March 01, 2010, 11:07 AM report to moderator
200 Points

Maybe I can clarify that…When you don’t film what the book says, you aren’t filming a Harry Potter book. (The light belongs in the pedestal.) You are petting your own ego. Stick to canon. We’re Harry Potter fans, not multiple cinematographer fans.

Posted by trontech on March 01, 2010, 11:17 AM report to moderator


I strongly disagree. Delbonnel’s lighting was fantastic, and your comment about petting his own ego is quite presumptuous and rude. Learn about how you adapt a book and the art of cinematography before submitting such an ignorant comment.

Posted by SwedishSkinJer on March 01, 2010, 11:32 AM report to moderator
8876 Points

lol well someone must have liked the cinematography and lighting because it was nominated for an Oscar. It’s always great to see HP things being nominated for awards :)

Posted by Moose_Starr on March 01, 2010, 11:45 AM report to moderator
1830 Points

I thought the lighting was great too, and he’s right about the cave scene, the moving light really transformed it. And the lighting in the Secumsepra scene was great too. Really atmospheric. It’s just a bit too dark for screens with a lower quality, which is a bit annoying with the ordinary DVD. I’m guessing the Blu-ray is fine.

Posted by nellythemarrow on March 01, 2010, 11:50 AM report to moderator
1830 Points

:O I just reread the article and realised I’d missed that Delbonnel worked on Amelie too! Amazing! That film looks brilliant as well.

Posted by nellythemarrow on March 01, 2010, 11:54 AM report to moderator
3777 Points

i really liked his work and cant imagine turning down HP work. As a professional it is the right decision but as a fanatic i would die.

Posted by ZachBlack [ROAR] on March 01, 2010, 12:41 PM report to moderator
8876 Points

lol … I just reread the article too and, I saw that he also worked on Across The Universe which is an incredibly beautiful and visually impressive movie.

Posted by Moose_Starr on March 01, 2010, 12:59 PM report to moderator
1373 Points

It will be so cool if he wins! I liked the lighting in the cave scene. I think it transmitted well the sensation of dark magic, danger and gloom surrounding the place! It was very well done! On the whole, every scene, every moment of HP films is made incredibly well from the technical point of view! Of course, now when we watch the first film and Quidditch in it, it seems not so perfect but remember the Quidditch game in HBP! When you watch it you forget that people can’t fly on brooms in real life! It’s so realistic!

Posted by Pollytomat on March 01, 2010, 01:14 PM report to moderator
1373 Points

we don’t think about Avatar, we don’t think about Avatar, there is no Avatar in the same category :)))))

Posted by Pollytomat on March 01, 2010, 01:16 PM report to moderator
157 Points

He done a really good job, its actually one of my favourite Harry Potter films up to now!!

Posted by IHeartHarryPotter on March 01, 2010, 01:16 PM report to moderator
4138 Points

Quite an interesting interview!

Posted by Calum Wilson (RuneDream54) on March 01, 2010, 03:11 PM report to moderator
3271 Points

Cool interview! I agree about his lighting in HBP… I thought it was perfect and set the right moods for each scene. Got my fingers crossed! :)

Posted by Half-Blood Princess66[ROAR!] on March 01, 2010, 06:47 PM report to moderator
265 Points

I think he did a fantastic job. There was really a unique atmosphere to this Harry Potter movie. I also liked the panorama of the castle when it switched from Harry and Hermione to ron and lavendar in the tower to draco leaning over the balcony. That is the scene that came to mind when he talked about intimate stories amidst the school as a dark character.

Posted by sgreeter8888 on March 01, 2010, 07:47 PM report to moderator
3048 Points

I thought he did a wonderful job in creating the cinematography for the sixth film and found the atmosphere that it built absolutely appropriate and complementary to the content of the story. His work captured the mood of the particular scenes well. He is a fine talent and I hope he does secure the Oscar for his work!

Posted by Kirk on March 01, 2010, 08:42 PM report to moderator
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