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Ministerial Proceedings
Nevertheless, before Harry can think about fighting Voldemort, there is the matter of getting reinstated at Hogwarts. Harry must defend his actions at a hearing at the Ministry of Magic. The décor of the Ministry's grand atrium is dominated by what production designer Stuart Craig describes as "a Soviet-style propaganda poster of Fudge.”

The designer adds that, despite the fact that people are literally flying down the hallways and memos are sent by the wizards' own brand of air mail, "the Ministry is a bureaucracy. In England, government buildings tend to have a 19th century Victorian design, which is very decorative. The Ministry is also underground, so one of the first things we did was visit the oldest of the London Tube stations, many of which were done with an extravagant use of decorative ceramic tile. We put that into the mix and invented this underground world that is tunneled—because that's what you would do underground—and wrapped in polished black ceramic tile, which is very interesting photographically. It was also challenging for (director of photography) Slawomir Idziak because it's highly reflective.”

The Ministry atrium represents the largest set ever built for the Harry Potter films, at over 200-feet long, 120-feet wide and 30-feet high. It took more than 30,000 tiles to cover it, all of which had to be individually placed. Onscreen, the atrium will appear even bigger through the use of visual effects.

Escorted by Mr. Weasley, Harry enters the Ministry through the visitors' entrance, which, for all intents and purposes, looks like an ordinary telephone box in the heart of London. "We thought it would be amusing to put the Ministry of Magic underneath the Muggle ministries, so we positioned the telephone box on the sidewalk very close to the Ministry of Defense. So, unbeknownst to the Muggles, underneath the British Ministry of Defense lies the Ministry of Magic,” Craig smiles.

Yates asserts, "One of the most fun elements of Harry Potter is how the wizarding world exists right next to our own Muggle world. It is sometimes just next door or right under our feet, if we only took the time to look. In fact, the two worlds often touch without us realizing it.”

At Harry's hearing, things don't go as Fudge had planned, thanks to Dumbledore and an unlikely eyewitness. Harry is cleared of all charges, but when he tries to talk to Dumbledore after the hearing, his beloved mentor rushes away, refusing to even make eye contact with the young wizard.

Reprising the role of Albus Dumbledore, Michael Gambon says, "Harry's view of Dumbledore is that he is Harry's rock, but he sees his rock is collapsing a bit in this movie. Dumbledore's power is severely threatened, but that makes him more human, doesn't it? It also gave me another level of his character to explore, which was an interesting experience.”

Still troubled by Dumbledore's rebuff, Harry goes back to Hogwarts. But the test that awaits him, as well as his classmates, will be unlike anything they have ever faced.

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