Monday, April 28, 2014

Leaving Hogwarts and the Order of the Phoenix

HARRY POTTER AND the order of the phoenix
book 2003    movie 2007   first read 2003    first watch 2007

A fifth-in-a-row return to the school of wizardry and witchcraft, where I realize the upside of growing up and that Professor Umbridge is really Goebbels.

Something strange happened last night: I fell in love with an old enemy. Not Professor Umbridge, if that's what you're thinking. Maybe I didn't make myself clear enough there: Order of the Phoenix has never been an enemy but it's always been my least favorite of the series. I remember when it came out, two years after the previous movie, and the raving reviews started getting published. "The best Harry Potter film so far", "The first Harry Potter film adults love" and similar irritated me before the movie had come out - hadn't the other Harry Potter films been good enough for adults? How good could this movie be, compared to Prisoner of Azkaban? When I watched the movie, my suspicions were confirmed - Order of the Phoenix was a solid yet not overly exciting adaptation and by no means better than the previous two movies. Everything in the movie felt rushed, since so much was left out and so it was just like listening to a friend recounting the book - nothing hurtful, still something I enjoyed, yet nothing very extraordinary at all. Somehow, I managed to re-live this feelings even during later re-watches.

Seven years later, here I am: loving the movie to bits. Loving it perhaps even more than the book which already intrigued me so much more this time over. The similarities to the situation in Germany just before World War II that stroke me while reading - in a good way - were perfectly echoed in the movie. Professor Umbridge outshone even Voldemort in this installment, Imelda Staunton being 100% perfectly cast in the role. I know that she has talked about the irony of people telling her she was perfect for the role of a horrible, ugly, sadistic woman - but in my opinion it's her outer sweetness that makes her a wonderful villain. From the pink costumes to the kitten decorations in her office to her awfully sweet smile, Professor Umbridge is the Devil in Disguise. Her speeches remind me of Goebbels if anything.

What once made Order of the Phoenix my least favorite movie of the eight may be the self-same reason why it's my favorite of the five I've re-watched so far: the way it adapts the story to the screen. The film gorgeously uses its visuals in just the right way to induce just the right emotions in the audience, thereby making many of the book's scenes seemingly unnecessary. For the first time in a Harry Potter film, each shot from this film is a picture I'd be willing to hang on my wall and all of the effects are believable. I am fascinated by Harry's inner demons in this film, the war between good and evil that is roaring inside him. I adore how the story is about keeping your friends close and trusting them and that it's okay to be wrong if it's because you care too much about someone. I love the small funny bits in between, like the scene where Hermione accuses Ron of having "the emotional range of a tea spoon". So does it really matter that we don't find out why Dumbledore assigned Umbridge or that Firenze doesn't appear or that we don't get to see the wizarding hospital? Okay, maybe except for that last thing, but otherwise this is a perfect adaptation to me. 


Make sure to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS THOROUGHLY before next month to read about the SIXTH entry in the Harry Potter franchise; The Half-Blood Prince.



  1. Yup. Love this movie. It's pretty damn close to a perfect adaptation, considering it's one of the shortest movies and it's the longest book. The book is a bit bloated to me. Half of it is quidditch (which was cut completely from the film). There's a lot of foreshadowing in the book, but there's also a lot of unnecessary bits. Rowling herself has claimed this would be the one book she'd go back and heavily revise and trim down on. That's why I feel the movie works so well, because it grasps the most important aspects of the book and brings it to the film.

    There are two exceptions to this, and they both revolve around the same person. The first is one you've already mentioned--the hospital scene. It's one of the best (and most heartbreaking) chapters in the book. Second is Dumbledore's speech to Harry at the end. They really eff up on talking about the prophecy, cutting lines out of it, meaning that it could honestly be talking about *anybody*, not just Harry or Neville. And... they didn't mention the Neville connect to the prophecy, which was like one of my favorite moments in the entire series. I even remember where I was when I read that bit of the book. Oh, and I wouldn't have minded an extended battle sequence in the ministry going through all the wacky rooms. Maybe even just for an extended edition. Oh well.

    1. It's SO good! The book is good-ish but not the best, I agree, but I guess there was just a lot of things Rowling wanted to squeeze in there. The Quidditch parts are a bit long but I like the rest. Yeah, the hospital bit is weird because one moment Arthur is close to death and the other moment there's that happy Christmas dinner. Neville definitely got cut out a lot but so did Malfoy... it's kind of a shame. Also, for that last bit: I wanted to see that baby-face bell thingy!!

  2. Order of the Phoenix was my favorite until the Deathly Hallows films came out. Probably because Steve Kloves didn't write the screen play. I absolutely loved it, I thought adaptation-wise, it did well. That was a lot of book to condense. Sure, I had a few gripes here and there, but I always did with the films.

    1. I think you were a bit wiser than me when you first saw it then. Can't wait to see the Deathly Hallows movies again - actually I don't remember much from The Half-Blood Prince.

  3. YESSSSSSSSS! This is my favourite movie in the series. I didn't like the book so much (or well as much as it is possible for me to not like something HP-related) so I was pleasantly surprised how much I loved this. I loved Umbridge, the duel at the end is perfect and the "teaspoon" scene is probably my favourite scene in all the Harry Potter movies. Also, this was the first HP movie in which I cried. The part when Voldemort possesses Harry was so overwhelming, man.

    And and, Luna is perfection.

    1. I knew it was your favourite and a lot of other people's too and never understood - but now I've been enlightened. I have joined the Order of the Phoenix fanclub. The book is good, I mean Harry Potter can't be bad, but I agree that it's a tad too long. I didn't cry in this one because I was very sleepy but I think I was close during that scene, actually.

      Concerning Luna, I'm just re-reading book 6 at the mo and I forgot she's the Quidditch commentator! How could they leave that out of the movies?!


Let the discussion begin!