Severus Snape: The Mysterious Professor
There is no character in the Harry Potter saga more mysterious than this Potions professor with the dark beady eyes, inky blank hair and somber expression. Severus Snape is so mysterious that even the actor playing him in the Harry Potter movies, Alan Rickman, does not particularly relish discussing the character in interviews. Understandable; considering that his role in the movies so far has also been kept to a minimum. But also intriguing, because… really, who is Severus Snape?
Facts: He’s the Slytherin Head of House and Potions master at Hogwarts. He’s a strong wizard (Snape faced off with Kenneth Branagh’s Gilderoy Lockhart in simulate duel in the second movie and came out triumphant). He is a Legilimens, a wizard who is apt at reading other wizards’ minds with a spell. He’s not very friendly with the Gryffindors and likes to pick on them, thanks to an old grudge that was born from having been bullied by Harry’s father James and godfather Sirius in their youth.
Myteries: Where does he come from? What are his hobbies? Who does he like? And, most importantly, who does his allegiance lie?
Is he Harry’s friend or Harry’s foe?
If he is a foe, then he doesn’t make a bad enemy for Harry… not really. For all that hatred he seems to radiate for his former tormentor’s son, he has so far saved Harry’s life three times. In The Sorcerer’s Stone, he rescued Harry from a possible curse sent to his way while playing Quidditch by the duplicitous Professor Quirrell. In Prisoner of Azkaban, Snape used his body to shield Harry, Ron and Hermione when his colleague, Professor Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), transformed into a werewolf. In Order of the Phoenix, he managed to decipher Harry’s ‘coded message’ and later on alerted the Order of the Death Eater threat at the Ministry. Subsequently, the rescue squad arrived on time to save Harry & Co. in the epic battle at the Ministry.
But he’s just not a very nice person at all. He’s the kind that wouldn’t think twice to smack his students on the head for insolence and disobedience (see: Goblet of Fire, scene at the Great Hall, where Harry and Ron talked among themselves during study hour). That’s why the mixed signals coming out from Snape jam our perception of him and we are kept on the edge of our seat every time the distinguished Rickman shows up on screen in his austere black robes to torment the heroic teen wizards.
Now, the teen wizards will simply have to step aside for a while, because Half-Blood Prince is essentially Snape’s story. Those who are curious about this character will be able to catch a deeper glimpse on this man who perpetually stands on the grey area of the saga. But be forewarned – you probably won’t see that much of him in the end. The filmmakers have succeeded in cleverly cloaking Snape’s character in multiple layers of guise in five movies by keeping his screen appearances low. There’s no guarantee that all of Snape will be unveiled in the sixth Potter installment, and yet… we can’t help but be excited about what’s coming next.
That is the beauty of Snape, after all. Nothing piques the curiosity more than the mysterious man on the background and leaves us wanting for more.
Credits and disclaimers: This article was written for FiRST Movie Magazine Indonesia, issue 18, July 2009. Pages scanned from FiRST Movie Magazine Indonesia and are not for commercial use. Images are copyrighted by Warner Bros. Indonesia. Do not hotlink and/or use without permission.