Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis

            “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” is the fifth and finest movie to pour forth from J.K. Rowling’s extraordinary imagination. Who else would have thought of having a gentle giant apologize to Hermione by giving her a rusted pair of bicycle handlebars with a working bell? The increasingly sophisticated technology that propels the magic of these visions is magical in itself.

            If you are roughly seventeen now, you were ten when you read the first book. You have grown up as Harry has grown up. You have gone through middle school and high school as Harry has navigated Hogwarts. You will be a senior this year; so will he. The attendance numbers for this new movie indicate that this original, loyal generation is picking up new readers of all ages as the years go by.

            Seeing early pictures of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione), and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) is a sweet moment indeed. Way back then, casting the trio with an eye toward their endurance as an acting team for a decade must have been daunting. The talent of the three has deepened they have grown up on screen. If young people have grown up with them, the older ones among us have watched them change with parental affection.

            Hermione and Ron have remained supportive friends to Harry while developing strong personalities of their own. Watch for the moment when the three share smiles that speak of friendship. Harry himself is an enigmatic young man carrying all the burdens his young life has imposed on him. Part of Daniel Radcliffe’s charm is that we rarely know what he is thinking until the thought explodes in one way or another on screen. Harry is both bedeviled and bewildered by the monstrous connection that hovers above him and Voldemort. The films have grown darker and more serious with each year, as if the friends need to be older in order to deal with J.K. Rowling’s resolution.

            These three are supported, as one reviewer said perfectly, by the acting aristocracy of England who “never condescend to the material.” As an impoverished writer scribbling on yellow pads in a café, would you have imagined that one day your words would be acted by the likes of Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Emma Thompson, Michael Gambon, Helen Bonham Carter, Fiona Shaw, and the new professor Dolores Umbridge, played with impeccable villainy by Imelda Staunton? J.K. Rowling lucked out in the adaptations of her books as the actors did in the scripts and visions created for them.

            We learn here that in the conflict between Harry and Voldemort, “neither one can live while the other survives.” Millions of readers and moviegoers know in their hearts that J.K. Rowling will not kill the beloved cerebral boy wizard in Book VII (to be released three days from now). She just couldn’t; she simply wouldn’t.

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