Okay. I’ve been putting this off for a while. Order of the Phoenix is my favourite of the books – and least favourite of the movies. I don’t think I’ve watched this since the year it came out (2007, if you want to feel old). I’ll say this now – I’m not going to talk about the acting, or special effects, or choices of what to include or exclude. I’ll get too annoyed, and this isn’t really what I’m focusing on, either. What interests me more is the way the movie differs from the novel in its portrayal in more sociopolitical issues.
I do like that Harry’s flashbacks and nightmares are clearly portrayed as traumatic. Cedric’s death seems to weigh upon him more in this movie than the book, which I think went a long way to making the audience understand that this isn’t just teenage angst, but a really serious trauma, or PTSD. This is an area where I think the book failed – Harry’s anger is so often described as annoying, and not understood for what it really is.
This is also obviously the big move from a relatively small story to one that has huge political implications. Again, I think the movie did this really well (although this viewing did make me wonder: WHY ARE THERE NO MAGICAL LAWYERS?). Obviously, the best way that the movie portrays the political repercussions of everything is through Umbridge. She’s such a great presentation of the ways in which education cannot exist in its own academic vacuum, but is always influenced by politicians and what is deemed ‘acceptable’ for children to learn. (Isn’t this tantamount to censorship, in a way?)
It was also really interesting – as I said, I haven’t watched this in ages. And it was only in this viewing that I realised how manipulative Umbridge is. Like, I knew she was evil, that’s obvious. She tortures and forces confessions – but she also gaslights Harry. In the movie she goes so far as to say “You know you deserve to be punished”, which sent shivers down my spine. She’s a more insidious type of evil than Voldemort or the Death Eaters…and I think that’s why she’s the most hated character in the Potter canon.
I’ve got to give Umbridge credit for one thing, though: at least she gave out her textbooks for free. That’s more than what my professors do!
Finally? GIVE CHO CHANG A REAL STORYLINE. For God’s sake. (I’ve seen a couple of really good discussions on Twitter recently about Cho – unfortunately, I can’t find them at the moment. If you also saw them, please let me know where I can find them, because I would love to add them to this post!)
Do you have any thoughts about Order of the Phoenix? Let me know! I love analysing Harry Potter!