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'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix' Features Teenage Wizard, Evil Rival


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) than Voldemort."

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 had 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 told us 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 Potter films.

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