The best-known wizard since Merlin returns for a fifth
film based on the internationally-popular novels by English author J.K. Rowling.
Alan Silverman has a look at Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Harry Potter is now a teenager; and, as if the problems of every other teen
were not enough, he is also dealing with impending doom with the return of Lord
Voldemort, the evil wizard responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents.
The 'Minister of Magic, who heads the government agency that attempts to keep
order among those who can conjure a spell or pronounce a curse as easily as
ordinary people - 'muggles' in the Potter universe - might brew a pot of tea. As
the worldwide legion of young fans knows from the books and movies, Harry is a
young wizard who, with other young people that share his mystical gift, studies
at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where he and his best friends
Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley have already shared exciting adventures; but
now a dark force threatens to destroy their world. When he discovers that
Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore and his other mentors are part of a secret group
- the "Order of the Phoenix" - dedicated to fighting this evil, Harry wants to
do his part.
"It is about sticking to your guns and if you know something
is the truth and you know that it is right, you can't let yourself be
compromised by other people and outside forces. I think that's what Harry and
Dumbledore go through in this film," says Daniel Radcliffe, who returns as Harry
Potter. Harry has grown from confused youngster (he was 11 in the first
adventure) to conflicted teenager.
"I think Harry has bad aspects to him that, I think, everybody has in a way,"
Radcliffe says. "When he lashes out in this film he lashes out at his two best
friends and I think that's something that a lot of people do simply because they
know that, ultimately, they will be okay. He feels he has to live up to this
image of himself that all these people have of being a great defender of right
and magical things (which is a very inarticulate way of saying it); but I think
he does feel he has to be the hero so he has to go it alone so he does try to
cut himself off from people."
"Harry is in a really difficult place. He
feels really isolated," adds Emma Watson. " He wants to isolate himself because
he feels that if he does that he won't have as much to lose."
Watson is back again as Hermione Granger who helps Harry train the students
as a rebel faction nicknamed 'Dumbledore's Army,' which must be kept secret from
the officious ministry spy, Miss Umbridge.
"I think a lot of the film is
about Harry's journey to realizing that he doesn't have to do it on his own, the
importance of his friends and friendship ...and just realizing that you have to
look at it in positive ways," she says. " The friends that he has and who are
behind him, while it is scary because he might lose them, actually gives him
something to fight for and that makes him a much more powerful wizard (and man)
Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix is the longest of the novels by
"Jo" J.K. Rowling; and screenwriter Michael Goldenberg hopes fans understand
that some chapters and characters did have to be trimmed to fit into a movie.
"Certainly you must be aware of all those fans out there, but
we are all fans ourselves. Also, from the very beginning it was very
liberating because from the first time we met with Jo she gave us permission to do
whatever was necessary to make a great film," he says. "She wants to see a great movie and
understands now, better than anybody, what you need to do to translate from one
medium to another.
This fifth Potter film marks the debut of a new
director to the series, English TV veteran David Yates.
"Initially it is pretty scary," says Yates. "When you go to Leavesden, where
these movies are shot, the scale of the enterprise is just enormous ...so
walking onto this floor feels like you're walking into a Roman arena. It is just
massive and vast, so there are butterflies in your tummy [nervousness] to begin
with, but I very quickly found my feet, so I had a great time."
And Yates will be back to direct the sixth film, Harry Potter and the
Half-Blood Prince, due to be released in late 2008.
Ralph Fiennes plays
the evil Lord Voldemort (appropriately hideous under several layers of elaborate
makeup). Rupert Grint is Harry's friend Ron Weasley. The cast also features
Michael Gambon as Dumbledore; Gary Oldman plays Harry's godfather Sirius Black;
Imelda Staunton is the officious Dolores Umbridge; and Irish teenager Evanna
Lynch makes her acting debut as a new friend at Hogwart's, Luna Lovegood. All of
the principal cast members will be back for the next two ...and final ...Harry