Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The Order of the Phoenix is by and far a dark chapter in Harry Potter’s life in and out of Hogwarts. While Harry has been forced into spending summer at home in the muggle world the atmosphere around him has changed and not just because Harry knows Voldemort is back, the literal climate hot, stormy and depressed. One afternoon Harry and Dudley race home to avoid a sudden storm and are attacked by dementors forcing Harry to use magic to keep them both alive, an activity forebidden to underage wizards outside of school. Harry is expelled from Hogwarts and only allowed back in after a full trial in which Dumbledore manages to throw in Harry’s favor. Once Harry gets back to school he finds a distant Dumbledore, a Professor who is attempting to take over Hogwarts for the Ministry and he faces the fact that he and Dumbledore are being berated in the media as the Ministry begins a full fledged propaganda campaign because they refuse to believe Voldemort is alive. This means that Voldemort and his Death Eaters are running rampant and the world’s only defense is a small crew of wizards lead by Dumbledore including Sirius Black and the Weasley’s who refuse to let Harry, Hermione and Ron help and Harry learns there is a connection between he and Voldemort that goes deeper than a scar.

I will admit that as a book and a film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix grew on me; it is one of the darkest chapters in the Potter series and it takes me awhile to respond to that. This is the film where Harry begins to believe he is alone in the world, literally gets tortured by a teacher and is forced to grow up faster than ever before. However, The Order of the Phoenix is the film that David Yates took ahold of and proved that he is the visionary match for Rowling’s writing; all of the elements of fantasy, reality, light and dark were perfectly blended and all of the ups, downs, joys and pains that were going on in the film were as real as they were to the characters.

In this film Dumbledore and Voldemort come face to face for the one and only time in the present, and an incredible action scene ensues. However, what I love about this scene is that it is used as so much more than an action scene, it actually developes the characters. It paints the triangle between Harry, Voldemort & Dumbledore and the fact that it is Harry’s choice to be good or evil, he has just as much choice as did Tom Riddle or Albus Dumbledore did. The scene also climaxes with the vindication of Harry and Dumbledore in the eyes of the Ministry and the public.

This film is also a turning point for harry and his group of friends. For the first time they make the choice to fight because no one else will, they make the choice to go the difficult thing even though they know it may mean death for them. This is the first film where the students make fully adult decisions and face evil knowingly, not because they are roped into it, or stumble upon it – they make the choice and face the darkness head on.

I do think that each time I watch The Order of the Phoenix it will grow on me. As compared to the other Potter films this is only about the third time I’ve watched this film and I was surprised at how much it entertained me because I mostly remember an impression of sadness the last time I watched it. I genuinely think that this film is part of why I was able to love The Half-Blood Prince as much as I did, but that is a blog for another time.

Director: David Yates
Writer: Michael Goldenberg
Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe
Ron Weasley: Rupert Grint
Hermione Granger: Emma Watson
Sirius Black: Gary Oldman
Dumbledore: Michael Gambon
Delores Umbridge: Imelda Staunton
Snape: Alan Rickman
Hagrid: Robbie Coltrane
Bellatrix Lestrange: Helena Bonham Carter
Voldemort: Ralph Finnes

Harry Potter: This connection between me and Voldemort... what if the reason for it is that I am becoming more like him? I just feel so angry, all the time. What if after everything that I've been through, something's gone wrong inside me? What if I'm becoming bad?
Sirius Black: I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You're not a bad person. You're a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are.

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