HP5: the movie

Continuing my Pottermania theme as the countdown to book seven gets lower every day (we're in the single digits! squee!), I will make some utterly random observations about the newly-released movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I should preface this by admitting that I have not been a big fan of the HP movies -- I didn't even bother to see them all in the theater -- because so much has to be abridged out of the stories to translate to film. I rewatched the first movie last week and thought, "what's the point?" I just can't turn off the protester in my brain screaming, "But what about the prefect badges?!?" This time, though, I just embraced observing how the movie modified the book as part of the film-watching experience, and thoroughly enjoyed the film without wasting too much energy worrying about how it would come across to someone who hadn't read the book.

The following presumes knowledge of book five, and probably won't make much sense if you haven't read it (which arguably could also be said of the movie). If you've read the book but haven't seen the movie, this will give away some of the ways the movie differs from the book -- but if you've read the book, you won't be going to the movie to find out what happens anyway, so I assume those kinds of spoilers are less significant.

I liked that there were a lot of nods to the readers -- visual quotations from the book that they didn't take any time to explain, but that we would "get" just by seeing them. Like Neville's mimbulus mimbletonia. Or Tonks (who, sadly, doesn't get to do anything interesting in the movie). Or Percy Weasley following Fudge around like a puppy dog. In that vein, they could have at least given us a glimpse of Regulus on the Black family tapestry.

I LOVED the flights over London on broomstick and thestral. I agree that it would have been cool to get a glimpse of the thestral flight from Ron's perspective.

The flashback sequences for the occlumency episodes were well done, too.

And of course Umbridge was deliciously nasty, right down to the kitten plates on her office wall.

One of the changes to the storyline that I thought worked well was having Hermione (presumably) tattle to McGonagal about Umbridge's punishment of Harry. The fight that the two teachers have over this summarizes numerous conflicts from the book and sets the stage for Umbridge's usurpation of all disciplinary authority in the school.

My absolute favorite line in the movie -- not from the book -- was "Good one, James!" spoken by Sirius to Harry during the fight at the ministry, moments before his death. The pride on Harry's face, both at being praised by his godfather and being mistaken for his father, and the complete lack of self-consciousness with which Sirius makes the mistake, convey in a few seconds what takes paragraphs of exposition to get across about the relationship between Sirius and Harry and James.

Unfortunately, this moment only works because the film utterly skims over one of the morally important developments of the book -- Harry's profound dis-ease over learning that his father had bullied Snape. Besides the final apology by Dumbledore (which, let's face it, was excessively long and didactic even in the book -- but SO important), I think this is the most important piece of the story that wound up on the proverbial cutting room floor. We do see a rushed, abbreviated version of the incident, but we see neither Snape's rage, nor Harry's disquiet, nor Sirius & Remus' dubiously successful attempts to reassure him of his father's basic decency. I recognize that the filmmakers were going a different direction in portraying Harry's internal struggles, and that this would have complicated things unhelpfully, but I regret the omission. Harry's sympathy for Snape, however short-lived, is a pivotal moment in the whole series on my reading.


L M said...

They could have easily have had Harry yell to his father "stop! just STOP it!" and that would have conveyed his dislike of the situation in three seconds flat.

What did you think of Luna? I didn't think she was the same character I envisioned, but it was neat to see the actresses portrail of her. Different, but still good.

I also thought that, in order to delete the long valentines day break up scene and exclusive interview stuff, it was probably a good move for the director to make Cho the snich. Although I would have liked to have seen "snitch" break out on HER face. :) I guess that wouldn't have made sense, though, if she was MADE to tell the truth by Umbridge. So probably a good move on their part there, too.
Sad that Ron and Hermoine weren't made prefects in the movie. That whole Ron and his older brothers conflict was interesting.
And no swamp for Umbridge?! Would have LOVED to have seen that!

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