Friends come and friends go.
But a true driend sticks by you like family.
Eugene H. Peterson’s The Message.
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, Jeremiah 1:6-8
Harry Potter fans should be pleased by director David Yates’ film. The preview audience that I saw it with certainly was. Even before the film began they were so eager to see the film that they clapped twice, first when, after an hour’s waiting time the theater lights went down, and then as soon as the WB (Warner brothers) logos appeared on the screen. The film is almost 2 ½ hours long, but it has been some time since that amount of time has flown by so swiftly, with the audience wanting more. Indeed, when the film ended abruptly at an important moment involving “He who must not be named,” everyone let out a loud gasp.
The film is, as expected, far darker than the preceding ones. The teenaged actors look both older and also as if they have seen and been through far too many terrible events that teenagers should not have had to experience. With Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) and his Order of the Phoenix friends scattering across the countryside in an attempt to keep him out of the clutches of Lord Voldemort’s pursuing minions, there are no scenes of Hogwarts, which gave the earlier films their structure. Thus this film is more episodic, the transitions sometimes a bit confusing (I suspect especially for any viewer who has not read the book), but never lacking in excitement.
Harry, fearful of endangering so many others, tries to set out alone to destroy the Horcruxes containing bits of Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) soul, but quickly learns the values of companionship. As Harry wears the first of the Horcruxes around his neck, its evil influence brings out his darker, suspicious and argumentative side. Hermione (Emma Watson) insists that they take turns wearing it, and the trust and love among them is soon eclipsed, with Ron (Rupert Grint) eventually becoming so hostile because he suspects that Harry and Hermione are becoming more than just good friends. Thus the Horcrux will remind fantasy lovers of the effects of the One Ring on Frodo and others in the Lord of the Rings series.
The complicated plot unfolds with our three heroes barely evading various death eaters and struggling with their despair. They are lead then to Godric’s Hollow, Harry’s birthplace, where they discover the secret of the Deathly Hallows. However, Ron becomes so frustrated with Harry, not only suspecting him of stealing the affections of Hermione, but also disappointed that Harry does not seem to know what to do any more than he, that he walks out on them. When Harry and Hermione transport themselves to another location, Ron can no longer return to them.
As always, this is a story that affirms and celebrates courage, perseverance in opposing evil, and the necessity of companionship. And it also shows that heroes have weaknesses too, and that even the best of friends can turn against one another. Despite the gloomy atmosphere, there are moments of scenic grandeur as the three apparate to various locations in the British Islands, the film being shot in Wales as well as in scattered parts of England, with the bright lights of Piccadilly Circus and another London street adding a welcome touch of bright color.
1. How does Harry find the Order of the Phoenix a necessary part of his mission to defeat Lord Voldemort? How does he feel about this, especially when he decides to set out on his own?
2. What do Ron and Hermione contribute to him and his mission?
3. In the banquet scene wherein Voldemort is with his followers, is there any note of joy? What is the predominate mood? How does evil always foster fear and dread, even among its practitioners? Preachers in their Communion sermons might bring out the contrasts between the Lord’s Table and the one in this film.
4. Why has Voldemort brought Charity Burbage, Professor of Muggle Studies at Hogwarts, for torture and execution? At what points here and in other scenes does the goal of Voldemort resemble those of the Nazis?
5. If you have read 1984 or have seen the film based on Orwell’s novel, compare the scene in the Ministry of Magic with those of the Ministry of Truth.
6. How would Dobby’s fate have had more of an impact if an earlier filmmaker had included his story and Hermione’s campaign to free the house elves?
7. After Ron’s departure, Harry takes Hermione in his arms and dances with her. What is he trying to accomplish by this?
8. Who saves Harry when he dove into the pond to retrieve the Sword of Gryffindor? What does Ron see and hear while Harry is yelling to him to destroy the locket? How is this appropriate for Ron? And yet how does it backfire?
9. What do you think is the point of Mr. Lovegood’s tale about the three Peverell Brothers who possessed the invincible Elder Wand, a Resurrecting Stone, and an Invisibility Cloak?
10. Who proves that heroes can come in small packages? How did you feel at the end of the film?