Idol Chatter

Watching “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” late, late at night with an audience younger than me and far more into the wizarding world than me was a fascinating reminder of why Harry Potter has become an iconic representation of the Gen Y/Millenialists who have grown up with him. In the darkest chapter yet of the Potter saga, Harry and his friends–many who are from broken families–are angry, alienated, and overwhelmed by the thought of being unprepared to live as young adults in a dark and chaotic world. Feeling that corrupt adults and political systems aren’t of any use to them, they quietly begin to train themselves to face a new war against evil. (Yes, I am still talking about plot of the movie, but the metaphors for today’s society seemed obvious over and over again as I watched the movie). So while “Phoenix” does not have all of the razzle-dazzle of the other films, and lacks a little cohesiveness, it stands on its own as a powerful look at the next step of one young man’s heroic journey.
One of the challenges of watching the film is that the novel “Order of the Phoenix” was roughly 900 pages, so huge amounts of detail and many secondary characters needed to be cut from the book to turn it into a movie, and that may make following the film a bit tricky at times for those who are not die-hard Potter enthusiasts. However, the basic plot of the film centers around Harry’s return to Hogwarts after the aftermath of Harry’s battle with You-Know-Who. While Harry is still grieving the death of Cedric and fearing what may be next in the fight with Voldemort, the Ministry of Magic has decided to downplay the event as if it never happened, and does this through tabloid gossip and innuendo. They also turn Hogwarts into something of a totalitarian state, as the new Ministry of Magic and the new defense of the dark arts teacher establish new laws at Hogwarts that basically don’t allow students to do magic or anything else without approval from the Ministry.

As Harry continues to have horrorific nightmares which convince Harry that Voldemort is on the loose and coming to harm him, Harry and his friends begin to train themselves to be what they call “Dumbledore’s Army.” The training comes in handy as Voldemort returns with his henchmen to retrieve an ancient prophecy that Harry has been hiding. While his friends are not able to help Harry after all in the battle, Sirius Black, Dumbledore and others who comprise a group called “The Order of the Phoenix” rush to Harry’s side as he struggles to defeat Voldemort again.
The spiritual themes of the story are almost–but not quite–lost between all of the the teen angst and the action sequences. But there are a few nice moments when Harry is reminded by both Sirius and Dumbledore that there is “darkness and light in each of us”–it is just a question of which side we choose to listen to that makes us who we are. There is also a compelling undercurrent running through the story, which conveys the message that we win the war against evil not just through physical battle but mentally as well–and that we need to take just as much care with focusing and controlling what we put into our minds as we do our bodies.
But most of all, for all of you Potter fanatics who are anxiously awaiting the final book in the series and are fearful that Harry will die, I hate to tell you that I don’t feel I have encouraging news for you. The final battle scene between Harry and Voldemort was staged every bit like a wrestling match between Satan and a Christ figure and seemed to foreshadow–far more than the novel does–that Harry realizes he will eventually have to pay the ultimate price to defeat evil and save the wizarding world.
Now whether that means there is also a resurrection in Harry’s future, I don’t know. I only know that Rowling has hinted in interviews that “If I talk too freely about whether I believe in God I think the intelligent reader, whether 10 or 60, will be able to guess what’s coming in the books.”
However, maybe the director of “Phoenix” has already given that ending away.

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