The Tri-Wizard Tournament is so dangerous that no wizard under 17 is allowed to compete but when, at age 14, Harry Potter’s name flies out of the Goblet of Fire, he is forced to take part. He must face three increasingly difficult magical challenges but something dark is slithering in the background, manipulating events towards a more sinister conclusion.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) – Director: Mike Newell
Running Length: 157 minutes
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes
As the fourth instalment in J. K. Rowling’s enduringly successful Harry Potter franchise, ‘The Goblet Of Fire’ marks a significant turn in tone. Whereas the previous three movies had all been rated PG, ‘The Goblet Of Fire’ is rated 12 and it is easy to see why. More scares, more danger, teenage romances and physical harm all feature prominently. The sheer amount of content to cram in does mean that this movie feels a little choppy, but it is also jam-packed with so many ideas and new concepts to the Potter franchise that for a child watching each successive entry, ‘The Goblet Of Fire’ will not fail to delight.
Whereas the preceding entry ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ had some dark elements dotted throughout, the entire last act of ‘The Goblet of Fire’ takes a distinctly fraught and bleak direction. Indeed, the potential doom foretold by the previous movies finally comes to fruition here. The key set pieces of the movie, being the three challenges and the climax graveyard scene, are dealt with excellently, with fantastic effects and action packed thrills but this is certainly a movie for an older audience than the wide-eyed childish wonder that the series has previously displayed
IS ‘HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?
The movie immediately opens with a dark and foreboding scene. We see a statue of a scythe wielding reaper with a skull-like head. The camera follows a large snake as it slithers into a rotten and creepy house. As the caretaker goes to examine this house, he hears a high-pitched and cracked voice from an unforeseen figure giving orders. He is then killed by a green light (which we later discover is ‘Avada Kedavra’ – the ‘killing curse’ of the Potter universe) which knocks him back so he collapses, lifeless. This quickly switches to a kettle whistling and a sleeping Harry, who awakes with a jolt. This could be quite frightening considering it is the opening scene, although it doesn’t last any more than 5 minutes.
‘Goblet of Fire’ marks the beginning of the students’ interest in the opposite sex and this is a recurring theme throughout. When the students from the all-girl school of ‘Beauxbatons’ arrive at Hogwarts there is a short shot of their wiggling bottoms. All the boys at Hogwarts are immediately smitten. Most of this is rather innocent, however, there is a later scene where Harry gets undressed and sinks into a bubble bath. Only some of his exposed back and chest is seen, but the ghost girl of Moaning Myrtle makes an appearance and clearly lusts after him. Harry is embarrassed and draws more bubbles towards him, but Myrtle describes when Cedric Diggory (an older student and side character) was in the bath earlier and stayed ‘until almost all the bubbles were gone’. Myrtle then looks pointedly at Harry’s groin area and giggles knowingly. The scene is obviously played for laughs and a younger child may only pick up on Harry’s embarrassment but the sexual suggestion is clearly apparent.
There are many scenes of suspense and fear. The new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher this time around is Mad-Eye Moody who is a very gruff and has a threatening presence, although this is tempered with occasional comedy. He has a fake leg, walking stick and false eye that constantly rotates. In his first lesson he demonstrates the three ‘unforgiveable curses’. One of these is the ‘Cruciatus Curse’, otherwise known as the torture curse. Moody demonstrates this on a spider which writhes in agony. He does this in front of the character of Neville Longbottom who is obviously upset by what is happening, although Hermione quickly objects and Moody looks guilty about his actions.
The three ‘challenge’ set pieces contain potentially upsetting or inappropriate content for younger children. The first challenge is mostly fine; it involves a large horned aggressive dragon attacking Harry but we feel that this will be a fun fantasy fight as opposed to a terrifying torment. The second challenge is underwater and is therefore more murky, with various sea-life creatures attacking or threatening Harry. Harry has to save some people and becomes visibly anxious as time appears to run out. A large shark head surprises him and swims straight at the camera but only for a second.
Although the first and second challenges are not too distressing we mention them because if a child struggles with these scenes then it is almost certain that they will not be able to enjoy the last challenge. This consists of two sustained scenes. The first is in a living garden maze. There is little lighting, suspenseful music and the direction is such that this scene is supposed to be scary. The ‘walls’ of the maze constantly attack Harry and the other characters. One female character with a glazed expression is dragged under the ground by living roots and another character is shown desperately trying to fight them off. Once the action leaves the maze we find ourselves in the graveyard which was introduced at the beginning of the movie. This is shot extremely darkly and matters take a tragic turn. Harry is cut with a knife and yells in pain and another character cuts off their own hand. There is no blood but the hand is seen to come off. Emotional distress is heightened by the apparent hopelessness of the situation and the main villain is revealed, who looks and speaks in a threatening manner. Even when we leave the maze the nature of the tragedy continues and all characters are shown to be distraught at what has happened, with several long lingering shots on this upset.
CAN I SEE A CLIP?
‘Harry Potter And The Goblet of Fire’ is an entertaining and exciting instalment in the franchise which brings to a head many plot threads from the previous movies. Fans of Harry Potter will love it, but it is certainly recommended to watch the movies in order because as a stand-alone movie ‘The Goblet of Fire’ could be a little confusing.
The content this time around is geared more towards an early teen audience as opposed to under 10s. The boys being attracted to girls part is the first time this is really introduced and is played up constantly throughout. If your child is of the age where ‘fumbling teen’ romance is boring then they may find themselves uninterested throughout the non set piece parts of this movie, especially as much of the middle of the movie consists of everyone awkwardly scrabbling for dates for the Winter Ball dance. Similarly the stakes are much higher and the scary parts much scarier. From the moment the contestants enter the maze for the last challenge the tension remains high for 15 – 20 minutes and the fear is sustained. For these reasons we wouldn’t recommend ‘The Goblet of Fire’ to a child under 10 or one who dislikes long sustained scary moments.
- Violence: 3/5 (most violence is ‘magical’ in nature but the graveyard scenes feature actual physical violence)
- Emotional Distress: 4/5 (the distress of the characters relating to the tragedy at the graveyard is sustained and upsetting)
- Fear Factor: 5/5
- Sexual Content: 3/5 (rather innocent, the teen romance here lends itself to certain turns of phrase, like when Hermione says, ‘Viktor is a more physical being’ – although she laughs about how this sounds, the implication is still there)
- Bad Language: 2/5 (some mild cursing, almost entirely from Ron Weasley)
- Dialogue: 3/5 (the dialogue during and after the graveyard scene is intense and potentially upsetting)
- Other notes: Deals with themes of the benefits of doing a good turn, facing up to responsibilities and the importance of putting the needs of others before your own.
Words by Mike Record