It was pretty inevitable that I was going to dislike the fifth movie of the series. By that point I was 13 and had read the fifth book a number of times and it was probably my favourite of the books at that point. It was sprawling and deep and gave incredible detail into the mind of a teenager feeling lonely and depressed. Its still one of my favourite books, but the movie has always ticked me off. I generally chalk that up to the acting (there is a moment at the end when Radcliffe has this line “YOULL NEVER KNOW LOVE, OR FRIENDSHIP, AND I FEEL SORRY FOR YOU” and it is possibly the worst acting the series has to offer) but as my taste in film has become more delicate and tempered I can acknowledge the great things that exist in this film. However, I’m not going to talk about that here. Today I just want to talk about the adaptation of one chapter within the immense novel of Order of the Phoenix.
Chapter 37 is called The Lost Prophecy and it is my favourite chapter in the entire Harry Potter series. Sirius has died, Fudge has seen that Voldemort has returned. Dumbledore is back in charge of Hogwarts. And the scene opens with three great paragraphs that provide the emotional context of the clusterfuck that we have just witnessed.
“The silence and the stillness, broken only by the occasional grunt or snuffle of a sleeping portrait, was unbearable to him. If his surroundings could have reflected the feelings inside him, the pictures would have been screaming in pain. He walked around the quiet, beautiful office, breathing quickly, trying not to think. But he had to think… there was no escape…
It was his fault Sirius had died; it was all his fault. If he, Harry, had not been stupid enough to fall for Voldemort’s trick, if he had not been so convinced that what he had seen in his dream was real, if he had only opened his mind to the possibility that Voldemort was, as Hermione had said, banking on Harry’s love of playing the hero…
It was unbearable, he would not think about it, he could not stand it… there was a terrible hollow inside him he did not want to feel or examine, a dark hole where Sirius had been, where Sirius had vanished; he did not want to have to be alone with that great, silent space, he could not stand it.”
Those three paragraphs explain Harry’s guilt for Sirius’s death beautifully. And those three paragraphs are missing from the movie. We never really encounter Harry’s guild over Sirius’s death and that is the entire emotional weight of his death.
And then after more guilt when Phineas asks Harry about Sirius, Dumbledore returns. He tells Harry that everyone (except Sirius) is okay and then says, “I know how you’re feeling Harry.”
Then we have the second thing that is missing from the film; Harry’s anger. Harry yells back at Dumbledore that there is no way for Dumbledore to know how Harry is feeling right now. Dumbledore pries trying to get Harry to talk about it, saying that it is human to feel this way. And then
“THEN – I – DON’T – WANT – TO – BE – HUMAN!” Harry roared, and he seized the delicate silver instrument from the spindlelegged table beside him and flung it across the room; it shattered into a hundred tiny pieces against the wall. Several of the pictures let out yells of anger and fright, and the portrait of Armando Dippet said, “Really!”
“I DON’T CARE!” Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. “I’VE HAD ENOUGH, I’VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON’T CARE ANY MORE”
This is anger, and very cinematic anger at that. It lets the audience, the teenage audience at least, release all the pent up frustration that they have been feeling with Harry in this film. I think what makes me so angry about the omission of this scene is that it lends itself so well to cinema.
The film would go like this rather than have the stupid montage they move into next. Dumbledore sticks a portkey in Harry’s hands which sends him back to the office. He stands there in silence for a few moments, we see his face, maybe a tightening fist. Then Dumbledore get back and starts talking, a bit awkwardly because he can see Harry’s frustration. Then harry grabs something breakable and when Dumbledore says that he knows how Harry feels, he lobs the item at Dumbledore screaming that no one can know how he feels. A bit more anger and screaming and then we get what they actually shot which is a perfectly calm dumbledore giving the explanation because above all else, Dumbledore knows that he was wrong, and feels as guilty as Harry does. This is necessary and is done so well in the book, that its omission from the film seems like robbery of emotional weight that we are owed in this story.
This is why I hate the end of Order of the Phoenix. Even if there is a lot of redeeming qualities in the film, the audience is robbed of a scene that was omitted for no good reason considering how cinematic a scene it is. And the film is far worse off because of it.