I finally saw the fifth Harry Potter film yesterday. It wasn’t my favorite of the series (then again, neither was the book); but I still enjoyed it, especially the final battle at the Ministry of Magic. They actually did a pretty good job of cramming the excessively lengthy book into less than two and a half hours, though there were some odd points of bad acting and it felt a bit choppy at times. Even so, there was one scene that I particularly appreciated and wanted to highlight. I don’t remember it being in the book (though I don’t have it in front of me to check), but if not, it was a great addition.
About halfway through the film, Harry is with his godfather Sirius Black and confesses his fear about the close ties between himself and the evil Lord Voldemort. Sirius’ response is a concise but excellent statement of the view of human nature which underlies so much of J.K. Rowling’s series: that it isn’t our background, family or even our abilities which define us, but our choices. The line between good and evil cuts through each and every one of us, and we each must choose which side to embrace. It’s a nice scene between the two of them, and the message is just about perfect:
Harry: This connection between me and Voldemort, what if the reason for it is that I am becoming more like him? I just feel so angry, all the time, and what if after everything that I’ve been through, something’s gone wrong inside me? What if I’m becoming bad?
Sirius: I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person who bad things have happened to. You understand?
Sirius: The world isn’t split into good people and death eaters, we’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we chose to act on, that’s who we really are.
I especially like the second half of Sirius’ response, and the rest of the film plays on this tension well, both by showing the dire consequences of Harry’s poor choices, and then by highlighting his final confrontation with the evil inside of him, at the climax of the movie. Order of the Phoenix isn’t a perfect film, but it gets this part quite right.