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First images of Black Family Tree (movie artwork)


Black Family Tree, copyright 2007 Warner Brothers.As a former art history student and someone who has labored over the Lexicon’s pages on the Black Family Tree I was ecstatic to see the first images showing Warner Brothers’ interpretation (right; click on image to see larger version). The tapestry appears to be huge, with a dark green background and portraits of the family members instead of just names. And the names are written on scrolls similar to the movie version of the Marauder’s Map. Do they move like the chocolate frog cards? I’d love to know.

This image is from the British version of the Warner Brothers OotP website. So far it is not on the American WB site, although over there you can get an awesome desktop of Sirius standing in front of the tapestry.

I think the portion of the tapestry we can see is supposed to show the Black family during the late Medieval period. Compare them to artwork by Jan Van Eyck (“Man in the Red Turban” 1433), Hans Holbein (“Robert Cheseman” 1533). They are even more similar to 19thC Medieval-revivalist paintings by the Pre-Raphaelites (Tempting of Merlin) and tapestries by William Morris (Flora) (Knights of the Round Table). Even the Morris font and scrolls look similar. Are the turbans the set designer’s idea of what a wizard hat might have looked like in the 1500s?

I can’t wait to see the rest of the tapestry.

Update: In a recent Empire Magazine (“Deconstructing Harry,” July 2007) article, David Heyman is quoted as saying “Jo keeps the books and films very separate,” says Heyman. “I’m the one calling her up, making sure we don’t do anything that will mess with her fiction. She really wants the films to be as good as they could be. We needed to visualise Sirius Black’s family tree, so we told Jo. And she said ‘I understand.’ Fifteen minutes later a fax came through with the entire Black family tree which had the family crest, their motto, with eight generations of Blacks with all their names. Her world is embedded in her.” No transcript yet, but there are scans over at Leaky’s Galleries. Thanks to Jules and everyone who sent that to me! By the way, All we have so far is a partial tree with 6 generations.

Update #2: an Italian fansite has posted an image of the tree that appears to have a burn-out. I would have noticed sooner but I was distracted by Sirius’s dressing gown.

Update #3: Wow, I think this Italian stickerbook is eventually going to show the whole movie! Here’s one more of the tree, this one showing several burn-outs and what might be the crest (above Harry’s head). Thanks to Bandersnatch and Jules for the nudge. Belated thanks to Portkey.it for posting all these new images!

Update #4: David Heyman is now saying that Jo provided a tree with six generations, not eight. Quotage:

Heyman still marvels at Rowling’s mind. A scene in “Phoenix” features a tapestry embroidered with the ancestors of Harry’s godfather, Sirius Black. The book mentions a few names, but the filmmakers needed to make the whole thing. “So I e-mailed Jo and asked her if she could give us a few more names,” Heyman says. “About 15 minutes later we received a family tree that goes back six generations with names, birthdates, family crests, a motto. It was all in her head.” Source: Newsweek, June 18, 2007

Update #5 (June 22, 2007): In a press conference, Heyman has mentioned the tree a third time, telling reporters that Jo gave them a tree: “with seventy-five names covering five generations, birth dates, marriage dates and family exorcisms.” The tree as is currently known only has forty-three names on it so when and if Jo’s full tree is ever released we will know quite a bit more about familial relationships in the Wizarding World! Source: The Leaky Cauldron special report


Pensieve (Comments)

  • Karen L

    It’s a lovely family tree – but the portraits make it a little difficult to blast someone’s name off – must leave a really big hole!

  • Yes, that occurred to me too, though it would make the insanity of the vandalism more apparent. Hopefully we will see larger images of it soon.

  • El Cronista de Salem

    Patronuses and the Black tapestry is what I want to see on the movie. can’t wait!!! and a week before HP7, it is insane! 😀

  • Mistral

    Big compliments to you Lisa – the way you so fast commented on the tapestry – you are awesome and must have been an excellent student in Art Class 🙂 Like so many others I have right from the beginning been fascinated by the “Black Family Tapestry” I am still convinced that there must be something hidden behind that wall!!! And yes 😉 Dante does sure have similarities with Snape (innocent until proven quilty 😉

  • Yeah the burn is supposed to be the size of a cigarette burn. Now it looks like it’s gonna be a small bomb or firecracker.

  • Poke

    That would be really cool to see the rest of the tapestry… I mean, if they created that according to the one Jo has of the Black Family Tree, then we’ll be able to see if the pictures of Charlus and Dorea Potter really are James’ parents. That messy black hair’s gotta be distictive, don’t you think?

  • Bandersnatch

    ::is hungry for more astronomical names:: 🙂

  • kamion

    It seems that some year of birth at the HP lex Tree are changed under for instance the much debated 12 year old sire Cygnus of Bellatrix is now born. in 1929. Rumor has it that this was done under influence from this magnificent piece of film prop. Is this rumor correct.

    For the rest I share myself among the crowd that is dying to see more of this tree, maybe it will show us the Ur-Black of the familiy. It should be fitting the founder of the family was called Sirius, aplha CanM is the brightest star in the sky.

  • severusisn’tevil

    Dante does look a bit like Severus. I agree about the “hole problem”, though. I thought the pictures were smaller. Also, while describing the Christmas decorations at Grimmauld Placce in OotP, JKR saays that the Black Family Tree was hidden from view by a Christmas tree. Must’ve been an awfully huge Christmas tree. I mean, I can understand it in Hogwarts, where the doors and ceilings sre both huge, but how on earth would they get a tree that big into the drawing room of Grimmauld Place (unless they shrunk it or expanded the doorway or something).

  • Big_Kelpie

    This movie is gonna be the best one.
    I cant wait to see the rest of the tapestry, specially how they managed the holes

  • Raika

    Considering that the filmmakers have already adopted the Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries from the Musee du Cluny in Paris for the wall hangings in the Gryffindor Common Room, why shouldn’t they get artistic with the Black Family Tree? 🙂

    On a related note, on an art history class field trip to the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., I recall seeing this 15th century Italian portrait of a young man who shares Professor Quirrell’s taste in functional, purple headgear… http://www.nga.gov/cgi-bin/pimage?22+0+0

  • You know, I had forgotten about Quirrell’s turban! Yes!

  • Haltiamieli

    I have to admit I am not very pleased with the design they have chosen, like many things in the films its kind of “over-thought”, too far-off. I imagined a massive amount of tiny names and connecting lines, like a map of London Underground^100. But well, obviously that would have been very hard if not impossible to make, as it would have really needed the myriad of names and such. Arty way is easier as it needs less data.

  • Mikkel Larsen

    The names and portraits may be generated by a cigarette-end-sized piece of tapestry. Then when the enchanted spot is blasted away, wouldn’t the name and portrait disappear, leaving a little burned spot?

  • I don’t think Sirius is the founder of the family, kamion. I think he is just the oldest in the branch of Phineas Nigellus’s family branch, who happens to be the direct (and, so it seems, the last) branch. Remember that the Black family tree supposedly dated back to the Middle Ages, but Sirius (Phineas Nigellus’s brother) is only our Sirius’s great-great-great-uncle.

  • Jenny

    I agree with you, Haltiamieli. I think the photo of the tapestry in the film looks just plain gaudy. JKR describes the tapestry as having thin gold lines of embroidery and names. I don’t recall anything about portraits or anything big at all (other than the tapestry itself). I’ve never been able to understand why, given a phenominally successful text, every one of the film makers has felt the need to significantly change the text and “make it better.” I think Jo did a fabulous job on her own, thanks. Why can’t we just stick with her vision?

  • Bandersnatch

    Because (to this fan, anyway) an exact, literal reproduction of everything in the books would be boring to watch. I already know what’s in the books, and I like seeing how other readers (i.e. the film-makers) have been inspired by Jo’s text.

  • kamion

    aislingyngoia, I said that Sirius would be a good name for the founder of a family of star named wizards and that the first and the last Black thereby would have the same name, I wasn’t talking about Phineas Nigellus brother.

  • severusisn’tevil

    I think Bandersnatch might be right. A few changes here and there make it interesting. However, it seems to me that the last few movies have gone a bit far. I mean Goblet didn’t include anything at all from The Parting of the Ways, which is one of the most intesnde parts of teh book. And PoA severely shortened the Shrieking Shack scene, which was easily the most exciting as well. It’s as though the directors hink that dialogue isn’t intense enough, and so eliminate some very good scenes.

    On the other hand, I really like the scene in GoF where Severus is supervising over HRH and they keep talking, and he keeps whacking them upside the head. That isn’t canon. This movie does look like it will butcher the texts somewhat less, thoguh, and I’m really looking forward to it.

  • Lexicon Lisa

    I am too, very much, and not only because of how excited Steve was by what he saw. It is true that the heads on the tapestry are not canon; nevertheless, I will be poring over it when it is wholly visible to get a glimpse of their faces. Silly me. I also intend to give WB the benefit of the doubt until I see the movie in its entirety. Remember, we’re just seeing bits and pieces here.

  • Jenny

    I don’t expect the movie makers to do everything literally “by the book” — sometimes it’s simply not possible, and I understand that small changes can make it interesting. But what irks me is when they make significant changes that don’t seem necessary: they cut huge portions of the book, or condense it to the point that half of the original meaning is gone (for example, Hermione and Ron’s introduction on the first train ride -the parts they left in mean nothing without the parts they cut). They tell us “there just isn’t enough time or budget in the film for such a huge book.” Then they turn around and add in a bunch of stuff that’s only for cinematic awe and does nothing for the plot (for example, in GoF the first task). I’d prefer they leave in the original plotline.

    In this case, why did they need to change the tapestry? What’s the point, other than to make it “their own” and different from the book? It doesn’t shorten the film, it doesn’t cost less, and I for one would be more interested in seeing more glittering golden names and dates (probably even stopping frames just to read them all).

  • Reader2

    Speaking of reading the names.
    Was anyone able to make out at least one name one this picture?

    I tried blowing it up, but it turned kind of blury.

  • Jenny, I guess that’s what I was getting at when I said I was waiting to see the movie as a whole. What does the whole of Grimmauld Place look like? Perhaps they found a cool way to show the rub-outs that will add to the story. Or perhaps they were afraid it would look too much like the Marauders Map without something else. I dunno, but I’ll wait and see. Apart from the book, I find what they did quite visually appealing.

    I’m more upset about the fact that the role of Rita Skeeter was cut out. She was was one of the brilliant parts of the 4th movie and the justice of using her to spread the truth in book 5 was truly delicious.

  • Reader2, I can’t read the name either.

  • sorguiña

    I had a look at the WB Spanish page, which I find a bit clearer, and I think the name of the one above Sirius and Harry is one Arcturus.

  • @ sorguiña:
    Can you please post the link here for this pic? I can’t find it, and would appreciate it!

  • Lisa Marie, I couldn’t find it either, though the URL for the Spanish site is: http://harrypotter.warnerbros.es/site/

  • sorguiña

    Here’s the link, I hope it will work:


    Notice that it needs certain software to operate.

  • Bandersnatch

    This picture of Harry and Sirius in front of the Black Family Tree clearly shows several burnouts.

  • nathan

    David Heyman mentioned in his most recent interview that J.K. Rowling sent him a copy of the Tree that contained six generations of Blacks.

  • Cricket

    A question for Lisa; would the tapestry used in the movie be painted on canvas rather than woven? I know there are computerized looms that could ‘probably’ weave such a treasure, but is it painted or woven?

  • Cricket, That’s actually a question for Steve. I have never seen the one on the movie set.