Warner Bros' film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, was originally scheduled to be released this November. The film was shot and edited and the studio released a couple of trailers, one a 15-second teaser trailer preceding The Dark Knight in theatres and just a few weeks ago, they released another teaser trailer, this time much more substantial and just under a minute and a half long. This second trailer depicted a movie that, many would argue, really does the book justice in a way that the first couple of Harry Potter movies (directed by Christopher Columbus) did not.
This one is no Disney movie but a very dark story of madness, murder, and magic. It is just these sorts of themes that some parents would rather their children not read about or watch in the movie theatre, particularly that last one. In fact, several fundamentalist Christians have denounced Harry Potter and even called for the banning of the popular series in libraries and schools because they "promote witchcraft" among children. Apparently, this discomfort among Bush's fundamentalist base translated contributed to a decision by the rating board in Los Angeles to give the finished 6th film a rating of R, attempting to limit the number of children who would see this film or at least censor the content of the film. In order to avoid retaining this R rating, Warner Bros is forced to return to the set, reediting what had been the final product and even refilming particular scenes. Because the studio is trying to play this off as the fault of the writer's strike (how dare they want to get paid for their work) which ended six months ago and isn't admitting to the ratings scare, we can only hope one day the original cut of this film will be released. This is one case where the director's cut of a film is of real interest.
Now, you might agree that some of the dark material of Harry Potter is of questionable value for young children or any children for that matter. I too think that Harry Potter is a very violent story that includes a great deal of murder and death that children might have difficulty dealing with. The question however is not so much whether this latest Harry Potter film deserved an R rating but whether the MPA is rating films in an equitable fashion. Many of us could give examples of films with very violent content or even sexual references and bawdy humor that received a very kind rating of PG or PG-13. So, my question is: Is it possible that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is more violent and dangerous for our children to see than that latest very violent James Bond film, Casino Royale or The Dark Knight, both of which received a PG-13 rating?
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