Thursday, August 16, 2007

Order of the Phoenix

Yesterday I went to see the HP movie The Order of the Phoenix. I don't get to the movies very often but I could hardly go back to school without seeing that, right? It was great. I think it's the best one so far.

I have spent the past couple of weeks borrowing the older movies from the library and watching them again. After I finished reading Deathly Hallows I felt the need to review the history. The first three movies were somewhat boring. I found them childish and trite. Hermione's character really annoyed me. I can't stand when female actors rely completely on expressions of negative emotion to display character. Hermione is always irritated, annoyed, angry or frustrated. She hasn't much depth in the first three movies. Ron is really shallow too - he's just a bumbling fool playing side kick.

But when I watched The Goblet of Fire the other day I was much more impressed. I really liked how Hermione came into herself. She had a far greater range of emotion. At the Yule Ball she showed some delicate blossoming. Ron is still an idiot, but he also showed some depth in subtle facial expression. He realizes his weaknesses and works to overcome them, even taking risks at being rejected in order to restore friendships.

The actors are growing up and getting better at their craft. I really like how the friendship between Hermione and Harry is developed. Their interchanges seem genuine and tender. At times I began to forget it was a movie, which never happened in the first three portrayals. I wonder if I like this movie better than the first three because I am a grown up and a mother; I am interested in the coming-of-age theme more than the magic/wizarding/fantasy elements.

Order of the Phoenix is the best one yet. I was glad they all had better hair cuts (mom speaking here). I felt so sorry for Harry in his loneliness and confusion. I cried several times, particularly in the scenes when he is with Sirius having heart to heart talks. I can see Harry being nurtured by the adults at Hogwarts more than I noticed before. He is clearly loved and cared for as a person and not just a savior/sacrificial lamb/superhero. His sweet personality shines.

As a teacher I was intrigued by the scenes where the professors are arguing or challenging each other. It puts me on red alert when Prof. McGonigall and Dolores Umbridge go head to head on the stairs in front of the students. I wanted to tell them to go in an office or something. It was heartbreaking when Umbridge fired poor Trelawney in front of everyone. I thought Snape did the best job of showing his complexity in this movie. He clearly was on the good side and helped Potter out even though you could see he hated Harry's father because of the way he was bullied in childhood.

Dolores Umbridge takes the cake though. She is my worst nightmare; you know how Harry is afraid he is like Voldemort and turning into him? Well I am sometimes afraid I could turn into Umbridge. She is so evil and clever and hateful. She enjoys a pink frosting of pleasantries on top of her wicked satisfaction with causing pain. She gives me chills. If I ever go to the dark side I will be her student.

I think that David Yates, who directed Order of the Phoenix and is starting to film Half Blood Prince in the fall, did a fantastic job in this movie. I think it is true to the book and far more challenging, thoughtful and poignant than the first three movies. I haven't read through all the books again this summer so I am wondering if this impression is valid. Has anyone else read all the books and seen all the movies this summer? What did you think about how they were done on screen?

Notes about diversity: Watching the movies I paid a lot more attention to racial/ethnic diversity than I did while reading. Perhaps because it is visual? Some of my random thoughts:
  • I liked Kingsley's character and I wish he had more of an active role with speaking parts.
  • I noticed that at the Yule Ball in Goblet Harry, Ron and Cedric all had Asian women for dates. I never saw an Asian man in any of the movies, did you? I wondered about the stereotypes of Asian women and if that had any influence in the roles.
  • I didn't see any blacks at the Yule ball at all. Did you?
  • I wish some of the major characters were other than white. None of the heroes or bad guys were anything but Caucasian. I read a review saying HP is multi-culti because of the muggles and half bloods, but I don't think that applies.
  • What about international students? Was there a presence at Hogwarts of any International student activities or clubs? Wouldn't you expect that?
  • There were several black students in the background at Hogwarts. I wondered if they have a Black Student Union. Just an odd thought that ran through my mind.
  • I wonder if there are any gay/lesbian wizards? Do they have a GLBT group?
I don't mean to criticize Rowling for these things, it's just what I was wondering about. I feel a little affinity for Rowling because she's about the same age as me and was a single mother of a baby when she started writing the books. I think we have a lot in common. I don't expect her to put characters in her story just to satisfy some ideal of "diversity". I just notice it when I watching and reading, and wonder about it. I think noticing what I notice says something about me, and about our culture in general. I use these "noticings and wonderings" as a way of examining my own perspectives. What did you notice about race?

9 comments:

Andrea said...

the only thing that disappointed me about OotP (the movie) was how *edited* it was. it was probably the shortest of all the HP movies, yet so much was left out. something that will be crucial in the last movie is that there was no cleaning of the house (when they find a locket they can't open, and how they kept finding kreacher with stuff they were trying to throw away). indeed, i wanted to see more of kreacher. and the part about mr. weasley getting bitten by the snake was much shorter than in the book. in the movie, harry has the dream, then you suddenly see him being rushed down the hallways of the school, and then suddenly mr. weasley is fine. it was so choppy here (and in other parts too) it felt like someone had literally cut scenes out with scissors.

but yes, overall, the movie was still wonderful :)

Jayme said...

I didn't really like this movie. I love the Harry Potter books, and this movie just seemed like it went way to fast. I thought the movie missed some important parts also. I guess it was just way to choppy for me.

Isn't this the book with the song "Weasley is our King" I think it is, I understand they had to cut stuff out that wasn't so relevent, but I liked that little plot line for Ron. He never gets the glory and at towards the end of book 5 he was. I missed that, but I understand why they cut it.

I hope the next movies are better.

cloudscome said...

You are correct, they cut a lot out. I was thinking that if you hadn't read the books you would have no idea what was going on. So much doesn't make sense without the missing parts. Andrea you are right about Kretcher. He is important and they totally missed that.

Andrea said...

re: weasley is our king: was there quidditch at *all* in this movie? i don't think there was. it was not in GoF either, book or movie, but that was written into the plot. and of course it's not in DH for obvious reasons.

MotherReader said...

I didn't like the movie because I had just read the book, which made it even more obvious how much stuff was left out. They streamlined some plot points - like Kreacher - that kinda matter to the series.

On the other hand, my husband - the movie guy - really liked it. He thought it was well done as a film and was really impressed with Daniel Radcliffe's growth as an actor.

On the issue of diversity - or lack thereof - I've noticed it in all of the movies. Like you mentioned, with it being so visual a medium, it becomes more obvious than when reading the books. I suspect that the producers don't have much choice but to follow the books, but then there's the question of diversity in the books. Interesting thoughts.

Emy said...

Granted, I went to public schools, but I don't recall there being very many international students, much less enough for a club on their own. As I recall (in very hazy memories, admittedly), the international students hung with the language clubs that were relevant to them, i.e. the kid from Germany came to German club meetings.

As for black students groups or LGBT groups, I know it's been a long time for me since junior high and high school, but I don't recall those either. I didn't see separate groups for those until college. Although again, it was a long time ago, there wasn't as much of a push to accept diversity by separating everyone out (hrm, this is an interesting concept...) at that time, whether you define "time" as around 1983-84, which is when I would have been 15, or 10th grade, my level in school when I was 15.

Beth said...

I love the books -- greatly dislike the films (am very difficult to please that way!) but go to see them anyway with my teenager! Still, I do think OoP was the best one yet, and I do like the trio of actors very much. I just think that as adaptations they aren't particularly good. An excellent example of a particularly fine film adaptation of a beloved book was the recent (well, not so long ago) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Re: diversity -- we write what we know, particularly our first novels. And HP was really one long novel, that's how JKR says she thought of it. So I guess I am not surprised (?). In the books Dean is black, Cho is AngloAsian, and the Patil twins are AngloIndian, or perhaps Pakistani. Oh, and yes, Kingsley is black. But that's it. So really, the movies couldn't be expected to be particularly diverse. In terms of there being international students, other countries had their own wizarding schools -- there didn't seem to be much educational mixing that way. Also, and JKR has talked about this, she put in quite a lot regarding racial diversity in terms of the different magical beings: merpeople, house elves, giants, goblins, centaurs and so on. So it's there, just not presented in our real-world "white" vs. "other" reality.

And I think I'll stop rambling now!

cloudscome said...

You are right, there is a lot of "racial" diversity when you include other types of beings. Hermione's concerns about house elves and the Goblin's alternate view of possessions comes to mind. I was struck by how important the Goblins' possessive feelings toward the Griffindor sword came into the story and how Harry and Ron didn't really understand the significance of that, although Hermione began to understand it. There is more to think about here. It makes me want to re-read them all! LOL

Rosemarie said...

I have to agree with some of the comments that this was my least favorite movie too, but now my least favorite book. I think it's really hard to separate the 2. As for the racial issues, maybe JK Rowling doesn't bring them up in particular because there's more than just "racial" diversity in the wizarding world -- like the dwarfs, the giants, the pure-bloods, etc. Those differences trump any racial differences. Thanks for bringing up such an interesting point.