Australian Council on Children and the Media

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

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Not recommended under 13, PG to 15 (Themes, scary images, violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • a review of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 July 2007.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children aged under 13 Not recommended due to adult and supernatural themes, violence and scary images
Children 13 - 15 Parental guidance recommended due to adult and supernatural themes, violence and scary images
Children over 15 OK with or without parental guidance

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Moderate fantasy themes and violence
Length 138 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his cousin Dudley are having a confrontation in the playground when they are attacked by two Dementors and Harry uses magic to fight them off. Harry receives a letter from the Ministry of Magic notifying him that as a result of his use of magic outside Hogwarts’ school, he has been expelled. He is taken to the secret headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix, a group of wizards opposed to Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) where he is reunited with hisGodfather Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). With the assistance of Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon), Harry wins his case at the Ministry of Magic and returns to Hogwarts.
Back at Hogwarts, Harry struggles with recurring nightmares, identity crisis and the general torments of a teenager coming of age, including his first kiss with Cho Chang (Katie Leung). There is also a new teacher at Hogwarts, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) who enforces a host of new rules which severely restricts the freedom of the students. To counter Dolores, Harry organises a group of rebellious students to form their own class which they call “Dumbledore’s Army.” Eventually Dolores discovers Harry’s secret class, Dumbledore is arrested but escapes and Harry and his friends are placed under school arrest.
Harry has a premonition that Sirius Black is being tortured by Lord Voldemort, and that Voldemort will attack the Ministry of Magic in an attempt to steal a glass ball that holds the secret to his survival. Harry along with Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis) and Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) escape from Dolores and make their way to the Ministry of Magic. 
When Harry recovers the prophesy ball several followers of Voldemort or Death Eaters, including Lucius Malfoy (Jason Isaacs) and Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) materialise. Events then lead to the final epic battle at the Ministry of Magic

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Magic & the supernatural, teenage anxiety & identity crisis, rebellion, bullying

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix contains frequent fantasy violence which includes the maiming and death of characters and epic battles. Examples include:

  • Dudley bullies Harry about nightmares he is having and the death of Harry’s mother. 
  • Harry physically threatens Dudley by holding his wand underneath Dudley’s chin
  • Two Dementors (wraith-like ghosts) attack Harry and Dudley. The Dementors chase and then capture Harry and Dudley, pinning the two boys to the ground. The Dementors then begin to suck the life force from Harry and Dudley. Harry employs a spell to fend off the attacking Dementors but Dudley is left looking pale and dark eyed
  • Harry has flashbacks in which he relives the deaths of his parents.
  • Harry is told stories of how Voldemort murdered entire families, and how Voldemort would kill his victims by causing them to have terrifying hallucinations until they begged to be killed.
  • Draco (school boy) teases Harry about going to prison, Harry responds by charging Draco in an attempt to attack him, but Ron physically restrains Harry preventing him from attacking Draco.
  • Dolores Umbridge frequently uses magic to punish and humiliate students and other staff. She also verbally threatens and intimidates the students and Professor Trelawney.
  • Dolores Umbridge tortures Harry Potter and fellow students by making them write lines with an enchanted quill that causes whatever the students write to be cut into the flesh on the back of their hand.
  • Professor Snape slaps Ron across the back of his head.
  • Two school bullies deliberately bump into and shove another boy
  • During wizard duelling practice Neville Longbottom employs magic to knock Harry off of his feet, sending Harry flying through the air. Hermione also does the same thing to Ron.
  • Harry has a premonition of Ron’s father Arthur Weasley being attacked by an invisible force that leaves him convulsing on the floor with his face and hands smeared with blood. Later Arthur Weasley is seen in a wheel chair with his arm in a sling and cuts on his face.
  • Snape uses his mind to probe and invade Harry’s mind (part of training Harry to protect himself from Voldemort), Harry sweats and struggles against Snape
  • Harry states that he feels angry all of the time, and worries that he may be turning “bad.”
  • Bellatrix Lestrange is seen with both hands chained and manacled to the wall of her prison cell.
  • Harry is shown images of his father as a schoolboy at Hogwarts bullying and humiliating Snape.
  • During a school exam, Ron’s brothers disrupt the exam by riding their boom sticks around the exam hall exploding fireworks and creating a giant fireworks dragon that terrifies and chases Dolores Umbridge.
  • Harry collapses on the ground when he has a premonition of Sirius Black being tortured by Voldemort 
  • Dolores Umbridge slaps Harry hard across the face in front of his school friends and then threatens to use an illegal and extremely painful curse on Harry to extract information from him.      
  • Dolores Umbridge uses magic to bind and strangle a centaur with rope.
  • At the Ministry of Magic, Harry and his group of friends are attacked by several masked Death Eaters who chase Harry and his friends. Both groups throw numerous lightning bolts and magical spells at each other and a number of Death Eaters are knocked to the ground. Wooden storage shelves collapse with thousands of glass balls smashing to the ground. Eventually Harry and his friends are overpowered and restrained by the Death Eaters, who hold wands to their throats. The faces of Harry and his friends are covered with bloody cuts and scratches and Harry is threatened that his friends will be harmed if he does not hand over a glass prophecy ball.
  • Sirius punches Lucius Malfoy in the face knocking him to the ground.
  • The final battle at the Ministry of Magic is very violent. The adult wizards fire lightning bolts from their wands and there is huge battle between Voldemort and Dumbledore. Voldemort creates a giant snake of fire and flames that attacks Dumbledore. Dumbledore creates a giant ball of water that engulfs Voldemort. Voldemort uses magic to shatter dozens of panes of glass and then hurls thousands of glass shards at Dumbledore and Harry. Bellatrix Lestrange kills Harry’s godfather Sirius. A distraught and crying Harry chases Bellatrix while Voldemort incites Harry to kill her. After the battle, Harry is left twitching and unconscious on the floor.  

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

The whole film is dark and menacing and likely to scare children. In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes that could particularly scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • At the start of the film, Harry is engaged in a confrontation with Dudley when suddenly the sky fills with dark ominous clouds causing fear and panic in Harry and Dudley. Two black, mummy-like Dementors come out of the clouds and chase and pin down Harry and Dudley, and start to suck their life force from their bodies. The Dementors are seen with their mouths above the mouth of the victim with coloured vapours being sucked into the Dementor’s mouth.
  • Harry receives a letter from the Ministry of Magic. The letter is animated with life like feminine lips and eyebrows which move in an intimidating manner
  • Voldemort is a nightmarish violent and sinister character with snake-like characteristics.
  • Mad Eye Moody has a false magical eye that swivels around.
  • The headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix has a live-in house elf with a scary appearance and nasty disposition.
  • One member of the Order of the Phoenix changes the colour of her hair and the appearance of her face. While sitting at the dinner table she shape changes her face into that of a pig and other animals.
  • People walk out of green flames in a fireplace. A face (Sirius) appears in green flames in a fireplace and talks to Harry.   
  • A couple of scenes feature fantasy creatures that resemble skeletal horses with wings.
  • Harry has several nightmares, sweating, tossing and turning in his bed. One nightmare depicts Voldemort reaching out for Harry with skeletal fingers and long talon fingernails. 
  • A student is given a magic lolly that causes the student to grow a bullfrog-like chin.
  • One scene contains images of the school’s caretaker Filch covered in exploding red boils.
  • A snake tattoo on a person’s arm raises itself out of the skin to take on a three dimensional appearance.
  • Lighting hits a castle, exploding a large section of wall.   
  • Wraith-like images of animals come out of the ends of the student’s wands when they practise magic.
  • Dumbledore and a phoenix disappear in a large cloud of smoke and flames.
  • A couple of scenes contain images of a rather stupefied looking, but a times menacing giant.
  • The epic battle scene at the end of the film depicts the Death Eaters as caped wraiths, who appear and disappear in the form of a melting black mist that moves at great speed. The Death Eaters wear black metal masks with a dark menacing appearance.
  • During the final battle, Harry is possessed by Voldemort, developing his red eyes and speaking his words.
  • When Harry’s godfather Sirius is killed he slowly dissolves

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes. Of particular concern are:

  • The scene depicting Dementors attacking Harry and Dudley.
  • Images of Lord Voldemort.
  • Images of Dolores Umbridge as an unstable, vengeful, woman. 
  • Images of the house elf.
  • The fantasy skeleton horse-like creatures with wings
  • Scenes in the epic battle at the end of the film. 

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Some children over 13 may also be disturbed by some of the scenes described above, particularly images of the Dementors and Voldemort’s reptilian-like appearance. 

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix contains a few mild sexual references. Examples include:

  • In one scene Harry is told that Cho couldn’t take her eyes off him.
  • When Harry is asked what it was like to kiss Cho he said it was “wet.”
  • When reference was made to Cho’s melancholy mood Ron stated, “Snogging would cheer her up.”

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains no nudity and some occasional low level sexual activity including:

  • In a couple of scenes Cho looks at Harry with romantic eyes.
  • In one scene Harry and Cho engage in a long passionate kiss on the mouth.
  • Bellatrix Lestrange is seen as a sensuous witch wearing a black tight fitting dress that exposes a degree of cleavage.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • At a family dinner some of the adults have a full glasses of beer in front of them but they are not seen drinking.
  • At a Christmas dinner glasses of wine are on the table, but people are not seen drinking.
  • Dolores Umbridge asked professor Snape to give Harry a truth potion/drug, but Snape refused saying that he had run out of the potion after already having use all of his supplies up on Harry previously.        

Coarse language

There is some occasional low level coarse language and put-downs which in some cases are racist. Examples include:

  • “Shut up;” “Stupid mother;” “Bloody hell;” “Old toad face;” “Toss pot;” “Bloody idiot;” “Filthy half breeds;” “Mad filthy half bloods.”         

In a nutshell

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a supernatural action film with spectacular special effects. It is darker and moodier than previous films, focusing on Harry’s struggle with his coming of age and confrontation of inner demons as well as issues of power and authority.  This makes the film more suited to older teenagers and adults. One of the main messages in the film relates to how Harry Potter valued and viewed himself. Harry is told that what is important in life is not what happened to us previously in life, but the choices we make and how we act on those choices. 

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Working with others to triumph over adversity.
  • Being willing to risk one’s life to protect loved ones.
  • Supporting and standing by friends.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as.

  • Racism and discrimination
  • Stereotyping of some characters 
  • School discipline
  • Bullying

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