THE HARRY POTTER MOVIE: "Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix"

By Marcia Montenegro

[Note: This is an evaluation, not a review, and is done for the purpose of pointing out anything in the movie that could be problematic from a moral and/ or biblical viewpoint, and it is written primarily to inform parents. Please do not email me and tell me that I think fantasy is bad, or that because children know the difference between reality and fiction, this movie is okay. I don't think fantasy is bad at all, and I realize most children know the difference between reality and fiction, but that is not the issue here. Please read this first, and my articles on the Harry Potter books as well, before emailing me if you have objections. Thank you.]

Evaluation

The information here, with a few exceptions, is given chronologically according to the events in the film, rather than by topic. Only the most salient features are being conveyed as far as objectionable material goes.

There are several scenes that are rather frightening in this movie, including the beginning when Dementors attack Harry and his cousin Dudley. Dementors are ghostly looking figures with trailing black cloaks and skeletal features who suck out people's joy, but the physical portrayal of this looks like they are sucking out someone's breath.

Another scary scene is when Harry remembers Cedric being killed, an action that took place in the previous book and movie. Harry also keeps having visions of the villain, Lord Voldemort, from time to time, and these visions worsen.

In one scene, a student named Luna tells Harry and his friends that her necklace is a charm to protect her against certain creatures. Charms have been mentioned in previous Harry Potter books. Charms are actually used in the occult and in folk magick as protective items. The usual belief is that the object has been imbued with some kind of spell or energy that gives protection to the wearer (this is also true for amulets). This is the idea behind our popular good-luck charms such as horseshoes, a rabbit's foot, four-leaf clovers, and others.

This movie, like the book it's based on, contains a lot of references to death. Luna tells Harry that a certain horse-like creature that only she and Harry see can only be seen by "those who have seen death." Luna goes on to say that she witnessed her mother's death due to a spell "going wrong" that her mother was casting.

Since the students are being prevented from actually practicing spells to counter dark magic in their Defense Against the Dark Arts class, Harry contrives to secretly teach several students certain spells to use against those who would attack them. Harry knows Lord Voldemort is back and on the move, and is trying to prepare the students to fight back.

In one scene, they learn to conjure up their Patronus, a quasi-independent entity, usually appearing as an animal, that acts to protect them. The Patronus first appears in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The description of this in the book is reminiscent of what is called in the occult a "thought-form," sometimes considered a familiar spirit, especially if it takes the form of an animal. I learned about this in psychic classes I took in the 80's. A thought-form is a "quasi-independent constellation of psychic elements," conjured up to "act in accordance" with the will of one who conjures it, and which is "reabsorbed" into the person's consciousness when it has done its job (Janet and Stewart Farrar, A Witches' Bible [Custer, WA: Phoenix Publishing, 1996], 93, 240-41, 320-21). The thought-form is considered to be an astral entity, a spirit conjured on the astral plane by someone on the earth plane (Gonzalez-Wippler, The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies & Magic. 2d ed. [St. Paul: Llewellyn, 1996],105). The astral plane, according to some occult and New Age teachings, is a dimension beyond the material plane which can be contacted in dreams, through rituals, or visited by the astral self. The astral plane is also considered to be "the working ground of the magician," (Gonzalez-Wippler, 98).

When Harry is teaching these spells, he tells the students, "Control your emotions and discipline your mind." Control and a disciplined mind are very high on the agenda of doing occult magick and are reiterated in books on practicing magick.

Using spells and magick to fight "dark magick" is called "white magick." This shows that the books are not really about good vs. evil, but more about good magick against dark magick. However, there is no such delineation between white and dark magick in God's view, according to his word. God forbids all spellcasting and magick, and shows that his power is greater (the Bible may use varied terms such as "sorcery," "soothsaying," "enchantment," "witchcraft," "divination," and "incantations"). See Ex. 7:11, 22, 8.7, 18-19; Lev. 19:26; Deut. 18:10; 2 Kings 17:17, 21:6; Is. 47:9, 12; Jer. 27:9, Acts 8:9-11, 18-21, 13:6-12, 19:19; Rev. 9:20, 21, 18:23, 21:8, 22:15.

Harry continues to have vivid dreams and visions of Lord Voldemort, finally learning that he has what can only be called a psychic connection to Lord Voldemort. He is told that Lord Voldemort can invade minds and control them, and will try to invade Harry's mind. So Harry takes occlumency lessons from Snape, learning to shield his mind. However, the lessons stop when Harry invades Snape's mind.

At one point, Sirius, Harry's godfather who was a good friend of Harry's father, tells Harry that we all have good and bad in us, and it depends on what part we choose to act on. This sounds good from a humanistic viewpoint, but is it really true? Can we become good on our own, without redemption and regeneration through faith in Christ? Is it just a matter of choosing to be good? And what is the good based on in this movie? There is no standard or model for good that is given; good is defined simply as that which opposes Lord Voldemort. Is it just that good is less bad than an extreme evil, like Voldemort or Dolores Umbridge? Almost anyone would look good next to them. This is goodness born of relativism.

Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts, lies to Dolores Umbridge to protect Harry. He says that he told Harry to form the secret group, although he didn't. Of course, many will say this is good as he is protecting Harry, but that begs the question. In what instances can we lie? To protect someone from punishment? To protect someone from feeling hurt? It's very elastic. I get tons of emails from young people defending Harry's and others' lies in the books because Harry and others are doing good. It is almost as though children and teens are thinking that in order to be good, one must lie. For them, lying is totally relativistic, and I think the concept of honesty is not admired or even desired anymore.

In another death scene, Harry sees Sirius die, and he chases Bellatrix, the woman who killed Sirius. This is a very dark and intense scene, and leads to about 20 minutes of the darkest part of the movie and to the climax when Lord Voldemort appears and duels with Dumbledore, using magick.

Harry realizes that Lord Voldemort cannot love, and that he, Harry, does love and is loved. This is the power he has and Lord Voldemort doesn't. Much is made of this by some Christians who defend the books, but it is overshadowed by the promotion of casting spells and other occult practices, and by the dark and amoral atmosphere of the books (and by extension, the movies, although the movies leave out a lot of material).

In the book this movie is based on, Dumbledore explains that when Harry's mother died for him, her death acted as a protective charm that saved him. By placing Harry in his mother's sister's home, Harry was protected further by his mother's blood (flowing in the veins of her sister, Harry's aunt) and thus his safety was ensured. Doing this "sealed the charm" (page 835). Far from being a picture of how Christ saves us through his sacrifice on the cross, as some have claimed (once again, reaching for Christian symbolism), this presents an occult view of what Harry's mother did. Her death was, or became, a charm, an act of magic. If all it takes is love to defeat Voldemort, why do the students need to learn spells? Why does Dumbledore resort to spells to fight the villain? This love theme should not be carried too far.

Conclusion

I am using some of the same statements I made for the conclusion of the article on the last movie, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," as there is really nothing new to say.

The movie is very dark, and offers little that is compatible with God's word or with a Christian worldview. In fact, the movie flouts concepts opposed to God's teachings. The few places where morality is given a pat on the head ultimately drown in a sea of paranormal magic and deception.

But due to the gross desensitization in our culture to violence, to darkness, and to the occult, it is more likely that what is shown in this movie will be accepted as "normal." Very young children were at this movie, including some that looked as young as 3. This allows further desensitization, so that the envelope will continue to be pushed just a little more each time, and our children will be exposed to even darker stories and movies until there will be no lines to cross anymore.

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