I was given Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix on DVD. My husband Robert gave it to me as a cheer up present. He went the extra mile and got me the special two disc edition, knowing that I am a Special Features Junkie.
I have three addictions in life. Four if you count Chocolate. But the first three are: Harry Potter, Books and Special Features. I love DVD extras. They really enable you to see what the film could have been, what was left out.
I think of them as little lost treasures, little bits of fun.
Now, having watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, I can truly say that it is by far the best film in the series. It's fresh, engaging, moving, and beautiful. I loved watching it more the second time on DVD than I did when I saw it the first time.
This may have something to do with the fact that, in the theatre, there was a gentleman behind me that talked through the entire bloody thing. Or maybe because when I got to watch it at home, it was on a new twenty six inch screen; but I digress.
I was all excited to look at the Special Features after watching the film. The Husband (Hello Husband!) went off to do his thing. I popped in the second disc of the DVD, preparing myself to be enraptured.
Previous DVD editions of the movie have included games, maps, Triwizard Tournament Challenges, Potion Making Classes, a spidery maze, hidden extras and more. So imagine my surprise when I popped in the second DVD and saw a menu of only five things:
Languages, The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter, Tour with Tonks and The Magic of Editing.
Measly fare at best. Where were the games, where were the extras, the fun stuff? Where were the Special Features that really helped me get behind the film. Nowhere I could see. I took a cursery glance through everything and announced it all tosh.
As it turned out, I was wrong. Very wrong indeed.
There are a lot of people out there writing bad reviews about the two disc special edition of the DVD and I was almost one of them, had I not taken the time to wait. Enjoying a day off today, I saw the DVD sitting there by my television and decided to pop it in.
I figured that I'd put on one of the features and it would be lovely, magical background noise as I cleaned the apartment and had a helping of my Husbands amazing meat loaf (seriously folks, it would make your mouth water; yep, it's that good).
That didn't happen at all.
I had already taken a quick look at The Magic of Editing Feature. A boring little documentary about editing a film. Watching television last night, I saw an add for the DVD where it mentioned being able to edit your own scene.
Hold on a second, edit my own what? I figured that since there was no other choice on the menu, The Magic of Editing would be where it was. So I watched the documentary. It was a revelation of what kind of work goes into giving us the film that we see. Quite enjoyable too.
At the end of this segment, you do actually get to edit your own scene, choosing camera angle, music and sound effects. Then comes the fun part: you get to play it back and watch what you put together.
It's like directing your own movie; sort of. I had a great time putting the scene together different ways. Just enjoy the Feature and then let the editing magic begin.
I was also prepared not to enjoy the additional scenes. I don't know why. I know it had a lot to do with my pre-conceived notions of the second disc not being enjoyable. So I pressed play and watched them.
I came away spellbound. It really is a shame that most of the scenes were cut from the final reels. They would have added warmth and depth to some of the performances, both small and large.
Emma Thompson in particular is amazing. There are a few more scenes with her: one in a comedic turn at the Welcome Feast that is worth the entire price of the DVD (I'm not kidding, she's that funny) and a later scene that concerns Divination.
She is surpurb as always but she really shines in these scenes, as she does in the actual film when Umbridge attempts to have her thrown out of Hogwarts. Imelda Staunton, who plays Professor Umbridge brilliantly in the film, has an extended scene right before she is accosted by the Centaurs.
Her speech is perhaps one of the best movie monologues that I have ever heard. It shows her depth of character, the depth of her evil, the depth of her desperation. Staunton gives one hell of a performance and it's a shame that it was cut from the movie.
We see a brief flash of Michael Gamdon as Dumbledore. We sense his lonliness, the separation between Dumbledore and Harry. It's brief but brilliant.
I can appreciate why the scenes were cut however, after having watched The Magic of Editing. The pieces, while wonderful, would have slowed down the original pace and tone of the film; it would have made the movie heavy. Being the shortest of the five movies, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix flies along at a fantastic pace.
While Tour with Tonks was cute, I really did enjoy The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter after I gave it a chance. Yes, the information is outdated, the effects kind of hokey, but it was perfectly enjoyable on a cold day with a bowl of popcorn.
I also understand why they've put it together. A large portion of the audience have read the books.
But a large portion of the movie audience hasn't. They've ingeniously weaved all the secrets that the reading audience have gained through the books and presented them all in a way suitable for those who have only watched the movies. It's a little flashy but wonderfully done.
All of these special features add to the film, add to the experience. They make the DVD worth having, contrary to those who would speak against it. I've had a thoroughly enjoyable world in the land of Harry Potter and I plan to return quite soon.
This is the perfect treat for your loved one; or for yourself for that matter. Just sit back, and enjoy. What could be better than that?