“…Maybe you don’t have to do this all by yourself, mate.“
―Ronald Weasley, Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix.
Things just got a lot darker in the Potterverse, literally. Since the beginning of the film the palette was cold and bleak, the atmosphere is heavy and sour. Almost as if the cold of the dementors attack that open the film, left a lasting impact on the film itself. It is also reflected on Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) constantly austere face. The burden of being the chosen one must’ve finally setting in, especially after witnessing the rebirth of his nemesis (Ralph Fiennes) and the death of a fellow Hogwarts’ student Cedric Diggory. But he was not getting a hero-worship by his peers, instead he was getting alienated by his friends and accused of being an attention whore and a drama queen. Alienation plus hormonal changes definitely did not make a good combination.
Harry was left constantly ambivalent throughout the film, perhaps questioning his own sanity, as he begin to get this weird visions in the form of clammy nightmares of distorted visions that seemed to connect him to his nemesis. Maybe he (belatedly) question his own identity and the origin of his fate as well. As i learned from the book, this particular installment marked the very beginning of explanation of why Harry Potter was made into an ultimate enemy of the Dark Lord, and learn that it’s not the other way around. Hogwarts does not provide him with a safe haven anymore: only a handful of friends stayed with him in the form of Dumbledore’s Army. The headmaster himself kept his distance away from Harry, casually aloof and frosty, not bothering to cluing him in to whatever’s going on with the Order, and instead leaving him in the dark.
As if hormonal problem, identity crisis, and the loosing guidance, was not enough problem to overcrowd Harry’s plate, the arrival of a new figure at school just made everything, if possible, much worse for Harry. Problem comes in (sickly) shades of pinks and goes under the name of Dolores Umbridge. She’s passionate about education of the young witches and wizards, which would made her wonderful educator. If only her blind loyalty to the minister of Magic and her dictatorial tendency did not blindside her main priority. (Which was not at all surprising, seeing Fudge picture on her office desk just make everything made so much sense). Umbridge embodies the lost of trust that the people in common had towards harry, she’s unsympathetic, and frankly believed Voldemort’s return was a harry’s ploy to regain fame and hero-worship. This attitude reflected in many of his friends’ scruttiny, whose families or themselves believe that Gryfindor seeker is just a cheap attention-seeker (pun intended, mourning the lack of Quidditch, bummer!). Harry’s world truly expanded through the means of his peers. In the past viewers exclusively saw Harry as a part of Golden Trio, but this movie finally show he interacts with the rest of Hogwarts students population. Something the book gradually built too, but the film never really achieved in the past.
CAST. Imelda Stauton was flawless as Umbridge, her small but plump stature, might remind you of an ordinary nice lady. But the magic really begin when she begin to speak in her saccharine, sickeningly sweet cadence and begin to giggle, while his eyes remained cold and malicious. It was really good acting on her part, she really brought a strong, vile performance as a the despicable, secondary villain in Order of Phoenix. If anything, i think her performance was one of the strength of the film. Joining the ranks of supporting characters is Evanna Lynch, pitch perfect cast for the delightfully nutty, dreamy rambler Luna Lovegood. The Order of Phoenix also marks the first appearance of Bellatrix Lestrange, another perfect casting decision with Helena Bonham Carter as the barbaric lunatic.Natalia Tena was a very likable Nymphadora Tonks, although her character’s metamorphic ability as well as her historical background was largely down-played.
PAGE TO SCREEN. The Order of Phoenix was the first film in Harry Potter franchise that David Yates directed, though he would direct the rest of Potter film after it. Unlike it’s predecessor or the film after this, Steve Kloves put a rest on quill and let Michael Goldenberg took the rein in adapting the pages of the book to screen. Although Goldenberg manage to kept the film relatively well paced, he unfortunately omitted a lot of key subplots which mostly coming from a flashback that provides the backstories of the Potterverse and the characters within. Exclusive viewers who never read the book might never really saw why Neville Longbottom is also a key character here, or why the prophecy has its gravitas in the story, which leads to the question why Voldemort chose to make Harry Potter his mortal enemy than Neville. (Although Yates remedied that through different means later in the franchise, but more on that later). I think due to these omission, Harry Potter never really had a more solid ground for the later films, and only begin to gain its momentum after the 6th film.
That being said, Order of Phoenix is one of the best looking Harry Potter films in its entire franchise (even more so than Azkaban). Each of the image are moody yet hauntingly gorgeous and effective in capturing the intended moments as if reflected from Harry’s own state of mind. Thanks to the cinematography of DoP Sławomir Idziak, previously known for his work in Gattaca (1997) and award-winning Black Hawk Down (2001). Another stand out point of the film is the amazing set of Ministry of Magic. Probably the most expensive and expansive set in the film, the black-tiled Ministry of Magic exceed my expectations in many ways. It has an understated, otherworldly grandeur, just like what i felt when i saw Gringotts and Diagon Alley for the first time, heavily visceral yet somehow oddly different.
How cool is the duel between Dumbledore and Voldemort? That beams flying out almost like the effect of sparklers from a welding practice or even like splashes of liquids which is wonderfully odd and fascinating, for me at least. And just like that there are many, many things i really like in the film: the cast, the cinematography, the set design; just to name a few. But the fact that they decided to heavily omits crucial backstory from the final screenplay was something i really disapprove of, especially since it was supposed to be one of the anchor of the franchise itself. It was one of those, ‘it could’ve been’ film in my book. It really, really could’ve been one of the franchise greats.
PS. The beginning of Weasley Wizard Wheezez :D
HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX (2007)
GENRE Fantasy, Adventure
DIRECTOR David Yates | PRODUCER David Heyman, David Barron | WRITER Michael Goldenberg | MUSIC Nicholas Hooper | CINEMATOGRAPHER Sławomir Idziak | EDITOR Mark Day | DISTRIBUTOR Warner Bros Pictures | COUNTRY United States, United Kingdom | BUDGET $150 million | RUNNING TIME 138 minutes | RATING PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence and frightening images | RELEASE July 11, 2007
STARRING Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Griffiths, Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Harry Melling, Tom Felton, Warwick Davis, Matthew Lewis, Oliver Phleps, James Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Jamie Waylett, Josh Herdman, Devon Murray, Mark Williams, Robert Hardy, Gary Oldman, Emma Thompson, David Thewlis, Michael Gambon, Katie Leung, Brendan Gleeson, Jason Isaac, Natalia Tena, George Harris, Imelda Stauton, Emma Thompson, Evanna Lynch, Helena Bonham-Carter
DID YOU KNOW? The most expensive set was the 200 foot-long hallway in the Ministry of Magic. Over 30,000 individually placed tiles were used to create the Ministry of Magic sets. As real ceramic tiles would have been far too expensive to produce, they were instead made out of heavily-painted cardboard.
This post has been the part of Harry Potter Appreciation Month at KaramelKinema. Let’s raise your glass in honor of Padfoot, the man was all class…