2007 brought with it Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in movie form.
Harry’s fifth year marks something of a change in the franchise; a turn for the darker, in terms of both plot and style. The Goblet of Fire ends with Voldemort’s return, so it’s natural that the stakes are heightened and the danger more immediate for Harry and his friends – but the consequences of the Dark Lord rising again spread far and wide.
The magical world has grown comfortable in the years since Voldemort was allegedly destroyed when he attempted to kill baby Harry, and they don’t want to accept that their greatest foe may have returned. Harry must find a way to prove that he is telling the truth – and whilst he’s at it, he needs to avoid the attentions of the dreadful new Defence Professor, one Dolores Umbridge…
Harry hasn’t even got back to school before the troubles of his fifth year start, when he is forced to fight off two Dementors lurking near the Dursley’s home. His use of magic outside of school leads to him getting expelled, and though the sentence ends up getting over-turned when Dumbledore takes his side, it still makes one thing clear: the Ministry of Magic are no longer friends of Harry Potter.
Harry’s insistence that the Dark Lord has returned has lost him friends elsewhere, too; rumours abound at Hogwarts, and even some of his fellow Gryffindors can’t quite hide their unease around him. The wizarding media have it in for him. In what seems to be a cruel twist of fate, Harry’s new Defence Against the Dark Arts professor is Dolores Umbridge, a Ministry worker who was part of Harry’s trial and was all for expelling him. All in all, it’s not a great year to be Harry Potter.
With Voldemort back, learning proper defence techniques is more important than ever, but Umbridge refuses to teach them anything practical. With tensions mounting, Harry and his friends seek to teach themselves what the school will not, and as such form ‘Dumbledore’s Army’; a group of students headed by Harry who meet in secret to learn how to protect themselves against the Dark Arts.
But Dumbledore himself seems to be avoiding Harry… and when Harry realises why, he may wish he never knew. Dumbledore has been rightly afraid of the psychological link between Harry and the Dark Lord, as they can catch glimpses of each other’s minds. Which is all very well when Harry realises that Voldemort has just attacked Arthur Weasley, and warns the Order to get to him fast, thus saving his life… but it’s less useful when Voldemort exploits their link to give Harry false images of Sirius Black captured and suffering at Voldemort’s hands, leading Harry to race to save Sirius with tragic consequences.
Harry’s introduction to Grimmauld Place, where the Order of the Phoenix have made their base, leads to a touching reunion with Ron and Hermione, where Hermione in particular all but barrels into Harry’s arms. Given that this film isolates Harry somewhat, it’s always good to see nice moments between the Golden Trio.
This film introduces a new character in the form of Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), and it’s easy to see why Luna so quickly became a fan-favourite. She’s weird and wonderful, a complete oddball in the most charming of ways, and Lynch is a total scene-stealer – she shines in every scene she’s in.
Umbridge’s crackdown on Hogwarts proves to be one step too far for the Weasley twins, and they plan a magnificent escape from the school complete with broomsticks, fireworks, and whoops of delight as they soar through the Great Hall and up into the sky to start up their own business away from school.
The scene in which Dumblefore’s Army really gets going is a great one; Harry gets to show off his leadership skills, tentative at first as he is unused to leading such a large crowd, and because he’s spent the majority of the year isolated from many of his fellow students due to the rumours swirling about. It’s sweet getting to watch Harry show off the skills he has developed – and to a warm reception, as Dumbledore’s Army acknowledge that he is absolutely worth learning from.
As part of Dumbledore’s attempt to sever the link between Harry and Voldemort’s minds, he has Professor Snape teach Harry Occlumency. Naturally, Harry and Snape spend much of their lessons at each other’s throats. It all comes to a head when Harry manages to get inside of Snape’s head rather than the other way round – and in the midst of Snape’s memories, finds himself face-to-face with James Potter. Getting to see the Marauders in action along with young Snape provides an invaluable glimpse into the past.
“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.” Sirius Black is great at the whole ‘comforting yet vaguely dramatic’ statement thing.
“You may not like him, Minister, but you can’t deny; Dumbledore’s got style.” Never were truer words spoken than these by Kingsley Shacklebolt, as Dumbledore escapes the Ministry’s less-than-friendly attentions with dramatic flair.
“I must not tell lies.” Sassy Harry is the best kind of Harry – especially when it’s directed at Umbridge.
“You’re the weak one. And you’ll never know love, or friendship. And I feel sorry for you.” The fact that Harry says this to Voldemort says so much about him.
“Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end… if not always in the way we expect.” Luna’s gentle, easy friendship with Harry is genuinely one of the sweetest things in the franchise.
Did you know?
Evanna Lynch wore homemade radish earrings to her audition, in true Luna-style, and was able to keep them for the role.
The scene where Harry, Ron and Hermione crack up laughing after discussing Harry’s kiss with Cho was actually the actors breaking character, but the director thought it suited the scene so he kept it in.
Helen McCrory was originally cast as Bellatrix Lestrange, but was replaced by Helena Bonham Carter when McCrory became pregnant. McCrory went on to play Bellatrix’s sister, Narcissa.
Imelda Staunton was the first and only choice for Dolores Umbridge.
In the book, Tonks’ hair is pink. In the film, it is purple, as it was felt that pink was too deeply associated with Umbridge.
Padfoot was played by a Scottish deerhound named Cleod.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the longest book, but the second shortest film.
The report: B
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix marks the main transition between the ‘fun’ films and the darker ones towards the end. Its predecessor was getting there, but this feels like the first of the films to have the tone set to ‘darker’ all the way through. It’s more grown up – and that’s a good thing, because part of what makes the Harry Potter series so great is the incredibly strong, very human characters that Rowling created. If Harry didn’t grow as a person, he would lose that vital human element.
For me, it does mean that a little of the charm of the earlier films is lost. It’s not to say that this one is without humour – it’s definitely not – but in losing the innocence of many of the characters, it also loses some of the fun.
Still, plot-wise, The Order of the Phoenix is undeniably strong, and it’s fantastic in building up the tension for the next films as Voldemort’s power grows. I do wish it had spent a little more time on the backstory of the older characters, such as Snape’s memory, and shown more than a brief glimpse of Sirius and Remus’s friendship, but I’m a sucker for anything to do with the Marauders so I’m probably biased there.
There are strong performances all round, and Imelda Staunton in particular should really be applauded for managing to make so many people hate her so very, very much.
What’s your favourite moment in the movie? Let us know below…