A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

July 28, 2011

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

I had seen this movie once before (although Amanda had not) but I had somewhat glossed over just how unbelievably DARK this film is. I remember being upset with the book because it was so full of painful teenaged angst as Harry becomes isolated from everybody else even his friends and even Dumbledore, who has supported him throughout the series (although he does have a tendency to disappear just when things get tough.) Somehow, though, my recollections were that the movie was less bleak and painful. To some extent this is true. Even so, it is really tough going to get through this movie.

Harry’s fifth year at Hogwarts is a time when pretty much nothing goes right for him from the start to the end. In part this is because of the dark forces at work in the world, the Crabbes and Goyles and Malfoys who are hurrying to gather under the dark lord’s banner now that he is returned. That would be danger enough certainly. For the majority of the movie though the real trouble comes not from the danger created by Voldemort, but from the willful ignorance of most of the people who are in power in the wizarding world.

It’s clear from the very start how dire things are for Harry. He is attacked by dementors while he’s with his unbearable cousin Dudley (who is an annoying chain-wearing chav in this film.) He defends himself using his patronus charm, but this action gets him into trouble with the ministry of magic. It is ruled that this goes against the prohibition on the underaged use of magic and Harry is expelled from Hogwarts. It is only through the intervention of Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix that Harry is even allowed to attend Hogwarts at all.

The Order of the Phoenix is a tight knit group who are dedicated to defeating Voldemort this time around as they were the last. They include Sirius, Lupin, Arthur Weasley, Moody and Tonks. It is explained that Harry’s parents Lilly and James were once members of the Order (explaining why Voldemort sought them out to kill them) as were Neville Longbottom’s parents. Even as we see these conspirators coming together to defend Harry they insist that he must stay on the side-lines.

Meanwhile, Cornelius Fudge, the Minister of Magic and big head honcho, is refusing to believe that Voldemort has returned at all. Instead he is convinced that Voldemort is rabble-rousing in an attempt to gather political power of his own and that Harry is a pawn and a liar. He has a lot of people willing to believe him in this matter as well. They’d rather believe that Harry is lying than that Voldemort has returned.

Fudge uses his political muscle to put one of his sycophants into Hogwarts as the new defense against the dark arts teacher, and she, Dolores Umbridge, proceeds to take all the fun out of Hogwarts. She insists that as he-who-must-not-be-named has NOT returned there is no real danger for which these children must be prepared, and refuses to teach them any practical magic to help them in the event of a death eater attack.

There are a couple things I do really enjoy in this movie. One is a new cast member – Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood. She’s so absolutely perfect in the role – exactly as I imagined her in the book. She effortlessly steals every scene she’s in with her vapid not-altogether-there but also somehow in-the-know air. The other thing I enjoy about this movie is seeing Harry as a leader. In response to Umbridge’s repressive regime Harry and his friends form Dumbledore’s Army – which is a gathering of students interested in learning practical magic to better defend themselves. The scenes of Harry training his friends are by far the best parts of the movie. In large part because the rest of the movie is so unremittingly depressing that these small victories are all the more thrilling.

This is a brutal, dark and upsetting movie. Things start out bad for Harry and they get worse. He is tortured, ostracized, denigrated and vilified. Hogwarts is transformed from a refuge to a prison and everything he enjoys is denied to him. And in the end, although he does vindicate himself in the eyes of the ministry and prove that Voldemort has indeed returned it is at a dear price. It’s a difficult movie to watch.

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July 28, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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