The longest book of the series was adapted into the shortest screenplay of all the films in the franchise. This was done by cleverly selecting the most relevant plot points from the books and making a perfectly paced film which turned out to be one of the best in the series. And yes, we shall never forgive David Yates for cutting out the St. Mungo’s scene with Neville’s parents, which for me, was the highlight of the entire book, or for completely leaving out S.P.E.W. but what we got instead, was pretty good by itself.
The new characters that are introduced in this part range from some of the best like Luna Lovegood to literally being considered worse than Voldemort; yes, we are looking at you Dolores Umbridge, you old toad. Between the two spectrums, there’s Bellatrix and Kreacher among others. Though in Bellatrix and Kreacher’s case at least their loyalty and humility towards their masters is their one redeeming quality.
For the book readers, another possible complaint against the film is how it fails to capture the level of angst that Harry feels throughout the story. Angry that Dumbledore won’t look at him much less speak to him. Angry about being left out of information that the Order knows. Similar to how angry Sirius had been throughout the story as well. And once we get insight to how Sirius’ home front looked like growing up, it is clear to see the parallels between the godfather-godson duo. They were both treated with contempt bordering on malice in the places that they grew up and they both found a safe space at their best friends’ where they were both welcome – Ron for Harry and James for Sirius. And just like Harry, Sirius too hates being left out of the complete picture as he is not allowed to leave Grimmauld Place and help the Order.
The fifth instalment to the Harry Potter series also shows Rowling use her fictional world to make certain political statements. For instance, through Umbridge, she shows how our current educational system looks like. They are not allowed to practice any spells and only learn the concepts through the theory portions of the textbooks. It gets to the point that the students have to form their own club, Dumbledore’s Army, to learn defense against the dark arts. And the other example through Cornelius Fudge she examines how even people of power in politics, chose to remain deluded of reality to suit their convenience. That they would rather remain in a world of blissful ignorance than see what is going around them.
Rowling managed to add some life to the plot by including scenes of the protagonists being just kids and enjoying themselves and acting their age. Fred & George are given one of the best signing off of any character, period. The firecracker event that they showcase in the middle of the ongoing O.W.L. exams, will forever be remembered as the most Fred & George thing ever. They manage to add life to the otherwise now very dull (and for those who serve detention, painful) life at Hogwarts that Umbridge has created for the students. And that is why she is such a hated character. She does not have a personal vendetta against anyone in particular. But she is responsible for stealing away the joy and freedom that is associated with Hogwarts. And after 4 films of building the school up to be a comfortable place for students, a place they call their home, she steals away the soul of their home. And if that does not convince you, she even gives the infamous blood inducing traumatising punishments to First and Second Year students as she does to Harry. And all this just because someone choses to express a different point of view than her own’s.
On other fronts, Snape teaches Harry Occlumency, when by accident Harry discovers one of Snape’s memories where James, Harry’s father, is bullying Snape out of no provocation. Just to be mean. When Harry sees this memory, his belief of who his father must have been, shakes to the core. If Snape had reacted in a different way, this incident could have served as a stepping stone ultimately resulting in them becoming more cordial with one another. However, Snape does not want sympathy and he does not care about what others think of him. He only knows his own duty and how he can do it justice. But more on that in the 8th movie instalment.
Then comes the fateful moment. Harry is falsely lured into the Ministry under the pretence that Sirius has been captured. Having such a saviour complex, he rushes to rescue his godfather, the only family he has now. Harry, despite warnings, never paused to consider that it might be a ruse. It is crucial to understand that sometimes the biggest of mistakes can be avoided if we only listen to our trusted advisors. Because Harry has to pay for his oversight with the price of Sirius’ life.
Distraught by Sirius’ death, Harry tries to torture Bellatrix, Sirius’ cousin and also his murderer. But even in such a vengeful state, Harry is not able to truly mean harm to someone else. Not even to Bellatrix. When Voldemort tries to possess Harry, he gets overwhelmed by the intensity and complexity of Harry’s emotion. Of Harry’s ability to feel pain but also his past happy memories. This whole time, Harry was worried that he was becoming bad. He was worried that he was the one who harmed Arthur Weasley in the department of mysteries. Harry was worried that he was becoming more and more like Lord Voldemort. But when Voldemort actually possesses Harry, he could not fight Harry from within and emerge victorious. Harry won that fight. Harry was the stronger one from within. As Dumbledore put it, It isn’t how you are alike. It is how you are not.
When Harry sees his friends, he is surged with gratitude for them. That they all risked their lives and came with him, to fight alongside him. He remembers all the happy memories he had made with Sirius along the way and he sees his parents. He derives strength from all these people – these people that not only shaped him up to become the person he is now, but also the people who define him. And he knows he has won the fight. Harry says to Voldemort “You are the weak one. You have never known love. Or friendship. And I feel sorry for you.”
And while everything falls into place, at least for that moment, we see the trio part ways for the summer with one last dialogue from Harry – We have something that Voldemort doesn’t; something to fight for. This wraps the film up perfectly as we revel into the bravery of the kids, who stood by one another come what may. And we remember Sirius’ death. We remember our grief for the dead and our joy over the friendships made. We remember all that makes us us. And we remember that in the fight of good over bad, all that matters, is the people we have standing with us and the choices that we make. We remember that EACH choice informs the person we become and we remember to choose right.