- The “Harry Potter” film series couldn’t incorporate every detail from the books, but there’s one omission that deserved to make it to the big screen.
- The pivotal book scene featured Professor McGonagall at her finest as she went head-to-head with Professor Umbridge.
- The interaction provided some much-needed comic relief thanks to McGonagall’s one-liners and deadpan delivery.
- McGonagall’s open defiance of Umbridge also foreshadows the larger revolt during the Battle of Hogwarts.
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One of the greatest “Harry Potter” scenes never left the pages of the books.
It’s no secret that many scenes from controversial author J.K. Rowling’s books are absent from the movies, but one of the biggest missed opportunities lies in the pages of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”
The central scene in book five, chapter 29, “Careers Advice,” is far from just a fleeting moment, and it was a great disservice to omit it from the fifth film.
The scene centres on an interrupted career-advice meeting between Harry and McGonagall
Hogwarts may be a school like no other, but even young witches and wizards can’t escape the universal tradition of a career-advice meeting.
In “Order of the Phoenix,” the students are issued individual appointments with their Head of House.
When Harry arrives (late, might I add) for his meeting with McGonagall, he discovers that Hogwarts’ High Inquisitor and newly-instated Headmistress, Professor Umbridge, has invited herself to the proceedings.
The insufferable ministry darling â€” who, along with Minister for Magic, Cornelius Fudge, has a personal gripe with Harry â€” seems intent on undermining the authority of Hogwarts’ long-standing teachers.
Unsurprisingly, McGonagall has little patience for this.
In the scene, Professor McGonagall verbally eviscerates Professor Umbridge in a way readers only wish they could
Harry tells McGonagall that he wants to be an Auror, which is a type of law-enforcement officer who investigates the use of the Dark Arts. It seems like a perfectly reasonable career choice given that Harry successfully dueled with Lord Voldemort, and lived to tell the tale.
McGonagall responds by informing him of what academic qualifications he’ll need in order to be considered for the Ministry position.
It’s a seemingly straightforward exchange, except for the fact that Umbridge continuously interrupts the conversation by faking a cough and clearing her throat.
Without so much as looking at her colleague, McGonagall wryly says, “May I offer you a cough drop, Dolores?”
It’s a simple line, expertly delivered by an increasingly-impatient McGonagall. But Umbridge persists, launching a full-blown attack on Harry’s career plans, boldly stating, “Potter has no chance whatsoever of becoming an Auror.”
Incensed, McGonagall tells Harry, “I will assist you to become an Auror if it is the last thing I do. If I have to coach you nightly, I will make sure you achieve the required results.”
The exchange is fiery and unrelenting, and the message is clear: Umbridge may have the Ministry of Magic behind her, but Harry has McGonagall in his corner.
‘Order of the Phoenix’ is an emotionally taxing story, and the scene provided some much-needed comic relief
“Order of the Phoenix” is filled with despair, as Voldemort continues to gain strength and influence after his flesh-and-bone return to the world.
Echoing Voldemort’s initial rise to power, people are, once again, going missing or dying under strange circumstances. Harry is having his mind ravaged most nights by dream-like visions from his intense connection to Voldemort. And Umbridge is wreaking havoc on Hogwarts.
Yet there are genuine moments of laughter, happiness, and silliness in the instalment.
McGonagall asking Umbridge if she needs a cough drop is a perfect example. The wryness of the question, delivered by a deadpan McGonagall, is genuinely funny.
The scene also changed the overall feeling of the rebellion against Umbridge and her tyrannical reign.
Yes, there was serious work to be done in overthrowing Hogwarts’ unwanted dictator, but there was also fun to be had.
It was humorous to witness McGonagall, and later the students, run circles around Umbridge â€” who despite her best efforts, always seemed to be one step behind.
I think the film’s audience would have undoubtedly benefited from watching the exchange between McGonagall and Umbridge. Particularly because it would have allowed them to see that the Hogwarts’ staff was actively fighting long before the final battle.
McGonagall’s open defiance of Umbridge seemed to inspire other rebellions at Hogwarts
“Order of the Phoenix” is a turning point in the “Harry Potter” series.
Umbridge’s rule over Hogwarts only intensifies Harry’s ongoing fight with the Ministry of Magic. But seeing a well-respected professor like McGonagall resist in a dignified way seemed to help inspire Harry to start Dumbledore’s Army to fight back.
And after this scene when McGonagall refuses to bow down and play nice, the teachers at Hogwarts also start preparing for battle.
Her rebellion made room for professors Flitwick, Sprout, and even Snape to resist Umbridge’s dictatorship-like hold over the school in “Order of the Phoenix.”
This fighting spirit comes to fruition two years later in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” when the professors face the ultimate fight for justice and peace during the Battle of Hogwarts.
Emulating the defiance she displayed in the career-advice meeting, McGonagall immediately gets to work, protecting the school and its students from the dark forces attempting to penetrate the castle.
Following suit, Flitwick puts his Charms skills to good use by casting protective spells, while Sprout â€” along with a group of faithful students â€” raids the Herbology greenhouses for anything that can be used as weaponry against the Death Eaters.
Above all, the scene highlights McGonagall’s shift from Harry’s protector to his ally
McGonagall has been protecting Harry since he was a baby in “Sorcerer’s Stone” when she â€” disguised in her feline form â€” stood guard outside the Dursley residence awaiting Dumbledore’s arrival with the newly-orphaned wizard.
Concerned about what kind of life Harry might have with his Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, McGonagall staunchly said of the Dursley couple: “These people will never understand him.”
The straight-talking Transfiguration professor also kept a watchful eye over Harry during his years at Hogwarts â€” but the “Careers Advice” chapter is when we see just how deeply McGonagall cares for Harry.
Her goal isn’t just to keep him safe, it’s also to back him up and serve as a trusted ally.
And later, it was she who Harry turned to when he came to Hogwarts for the final battle in “Deathly Hallows.” Without hesitation, the professor asked Harry what he needed her to do and got to work protecting the castle and other students â€” which allowed Harry to carry out his own mission.
And this strong allyship was also felt by Harry, who later cast the torturous Cruciatus Curse on a Death Eater who dared to spit in McGonagall’s face.
It was a mistake to cut the ‘Careers Advice’ scene from the fifth movie
McGonagall and Umbridge’s clash in “Order of the Phoenix” is a relatively short interaction in what is undoubtedly a very long book. If adapted to the big screen, the exchange could’ve taken up just a few minutes of the movie.
Sure, the “Harry Potter” books contain a wealth of information â€” complicated characters, rich backstories, interweaving storylines â€” so it’s understandable that not every detail made it into the film adaptations.
But for such a small exchange, it has a big impact on the overall narrative arc of the “Harry Potter” series, and it’s a shame fans never got to see this legendary scene play out on screen.
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