So I watched Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or the Sorcerer’s stone, depending on what part of the world you live in)…
This is the movie that kicked off the multi-billion dollar franchise that Harry Potter has become. It had a lot to do because it has to set up Hogwarts, its characters and the whole magical world but it does really well.
Okay, basic plot: Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) life is turned around when he finds out that not only is he a wizard but that’s he’s possibly the most famous wizard in the world. He’s the only person to ever survive an attack from the evil Lord Voldemort. After Harry turns eleven he starts his school career at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry – the Jurassic Park for children where anything and everything will try to kill you. Seriously, why do parents send their kids to Hogwarts? Harry, along with his two best friends – Ron and Hermoine – has to try to survive this death-trap of a school while uncovering a plot that involves the Philosopher’s stone and Voldemort’s potential return.
I really love this movie. It’s one of the few movies from my childhood that’s withstood the test of time. I still feel the same feelings of wonder and amazement that I experienced with my first viewing. I love movies that create whole new worlds with rules, structures and original characters. From picking a wand to being sorted into your house at Hogwarts, I love the time the movie takes in explaining the wonders and fantasy of the magical world. It takes this world that is beyond our imaginations and makes it tangible and allows us to relate to it.
Now on the surface this movie just appears to be about magic but it’s the characters behind the sorcery that make this story (and please pardon this horrible pun) magical. Harry is an orphan living with an abusive family that hates him. Hermoine (Emma Watson) is an overachieving nerd who feels she has to prove herself because of her family’s background. Ron (Rupert Grint) is…um…well okay maybe Ron doesn’t have a challenging backstory but he’s still a likeable character. It’s great when you can see a part of yourself in a character. The Harry Potter franchise is essentially a high school drama and one of the themes present in all the films is that of growing up and the challenges that accompany that. Sure, we don’t all have to face murderous, evil wizards who slaughtered our parents but there’s a lot of obstacles in this movie and the entire franchise that we can relate to.
But coming back to this movie, specifically, I loved how they handled Voldemort. This movie basically tells us nothing about him, except that he killed Harry’s parents and that people are so terrified of him that they dare not speak his name. I mean, how awesome of a villain is that? I remember as a kid I wouldn’t even say Voldemort because it scared the pants off of me. The mystery and the shroud around him is amazing. They don’t tell us much but they give us enough to fear him. He’s only in this movie for five minutes or so but he’s one of the most influential characters, that not only shows the power he has but also the amazing storytelling ability the filmmakers posses.
I also have to give a special nod to the score John Williams composed for this movie. It’s iconic and as magical as the spells cast in this movie.
The only real problem I had with this movie (and it’s a tiny one) is that Harry never casts a spell. He talks to a snake, makes a pane of glass disappear, flies a broom, fights Voldemort but he never whips a wand out and performs magic. I found that a bit annoying but I’ve come to terms with it
Overall, this movie and the franchise it spawned will probably go down, if they are not already, as classics. It’s a fun ride that introduces you to the spectacle of magic and a bunch of characters you’ll spend at least seven more movies with. It’s worth a watch. 8/10