How the ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ Adaptation Succeeded Where the Book Failed

Director David Yates made a terrific adaption of the longest Harry Potter book.

The Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is set to enter theatres shortly, and it is the third installment of a planned five-film franchise. David Yates, no stranger to the Wizarding World, will helm the entire series. Yates drove the last four chapters in the core Harry Potter series, beginning with 2007’s Order of the Phoenix and the first two Fantastic Beasts films. Yates seldom works on projects that aren’t connected to J.K. Rowling’s universe by this time; The Legend of Tarzan, which he directed in 2016, was the first non-Wizarding World film he’s produced in the twenty-first century.

Despite his experience, Yates was handed a difficult challenge with his first film, as each of the franchise’s prior directors had created their unique perspective on the original material. Christopher Columbus made a whimsical sense of wonder with the family-friendly flicks The Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets. Still, Alfonso Cuaron pushed the series on a darker path with The Prisoner of Azkaban. The Goblet of Fire, directed by Mike Newell, transformed the tone of the series; however, it begins with a sense of familiarity, and the protagonists are pushed into crisis when the Dark Lord Voldemort returns (Ralph Fiennes).

Yates had to live up to these lofty goals, and he was also tasked with adapting one of the novel series’ weaker volumes. Order of the Phoenix is an overlong plod compared to the beloved first four books. Rowling crams so much information into the plot that it clocks in at 766 pages. Despite working with the less-than-ideal source material, Yates made significant changes to the film’s tempo, tone, and focus. It’s a rare adaptation that outperforms the source material; Yates made The Order of the Phoenix into one of the series’ best pictures.

The aftermath of Voldemort’s resurrection is explored in Order of the Phoenix, as Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson) prepare for an impending conflict. When they return to school for their fifth year, they are surprised that the Ministry of Magic has dismissed all proof of the evil wizard’s return. The Order of the Phoenix, a hidden resistance group, aims to locate a mysterious superweapon that Voldemort is looking for.

While the book delves into the Ministry’s bureaucracy, the film focuses on Harry’s rage and sense of isolation. Harry is enraged over the inaction and coverup after witnessing his buddy Cedric Diggory (Robert Pattinson) die before his eyes. Although the book portrays him as a less sympathetic, sullen adolescent, Yates does an excellent job depicting Harry’s pain.

Harry’s frustration grows as he sees the Order of the Phoenix develop without him. He is ecstatic about the prospect of reuniting with his tutor Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), and he is enraged when the elder wizards exclude him from official meetings. Harry’s founding of the student rebel group nicknamed “Dumbledore’s Army” feels less like an act of defiance and more like the development of a leader rather than an act of defiance.

Harry becomes an inspirational figure among Hogwarts students throughout the last four films. This is a bit of a shock in the books, but the Order of the Phoenix movie lays the basis for his future rank. Yates has stressed Harry’s leadership abilities in all of his adaptations. Harry’s statement at the end of The Deathly Hallows — Part 2 would not have been nearly as effective without his development here. Yates also wisely decided to flesh out the underdeveloped characters of Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) and Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) in the book.

The Order of the Phoenix is also significantly more concise in pacing, even though it is the series’ second-shortest film. It starts the movie off on a thrilling note, and the horror-themed scene foreshadows the film’s darker tone. Readers had to suffer through a dreary beginning in which Harry and Dudley Dursley (Harry Melling) escaped from a horde of Dementors. At the same time, Yates launched the picture with an exciting sequence in which Harry and Dudley Dursley (Harry Melling) escaped from a horde of them.

As Dolores Umbridge, the new Defense Against to Dark Arts teacher, Imelda Staunton gives an outstanding performance, which helps Yates much. The Ministry’s haughty, strident representative insists on continuing the advertising campaign and imposing stringent new regulations on the student body. While Umbridge is utterly unlikeable in the book, Staunton manages to make her irritating antics amusing without diminishing her evil.

Keeping the film’s focus on Harry’s relationship with Sirius is Yate’s best decision. Oldman gives an enthralling performance, and Sirius addresses the story’s central conflict: Harry wonders if he and Voldemort are more alike than he thought. Sirius reassures Harry that he is a good person at heart, assuaging his fears that he is the weapon Voldemort seeks. This heightens the impact of the tragic conclusion.

The Order of the Phoenix was a daring entry in the blockbuster series that set up the serialized structure of the subsequent few movies. In contrast, the Wizarding World films under Yates have begun to suffer from a similar tone. Yates succeeded where the novel failed by simplifying the plot and focusing on Harry’s emotional growth.

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