Harry Potter was a concept originally created by J K Rowling (although she took that name later) whilst she was a single mother supporting her children, living of benefits and making notes on trains and in cafe’s. That idea went onto become one of the greatest book series in History which later went onto become one of the most successful film series in history. To mark the end of the Harry Potter franchise I shall be reviewing the entire series in chronological order. Without further ado, lets begin at the start, way back in 2001 with the Philosopher’s stone.
N.B To save mentioning the point that I will be reviewing the films independently of the books and therefore will try not to consider the fact that most of the films are a generally pale imitation of the books. Much is missed out or changed and therefore I will be reviewing these films as films and not as representations of the novels. This is not to say I dislike the films or that I do not acknowledge the fact that it is incredibly difficult to perfectly reproduce the books on the silver screen. If the movies took everything in the books, including dialogue then the films would be at a ridiculous length
The plot is simple. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is a boy whose parents were killed by the Dark Lord Voldemort. For some reason Harry survived and is brought to live with his aunt, uncle and cousin who mistreat him. Everything changes for Harry when he meets Rubeus Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) who tells him the truth of his parents fate and that he is a wizard. Harry then goes to Hogwarts where he meets Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson). The trio begin to unfurl a plot by Lord Voldemort to return to power by stealing the fabled Philosopher’s stone, and suspect Severus Snape (Alan Rickman).
This film is just wonderful. I love the acting, I love the cast, I love the plot, I love the characters, I love the scenery and I love the uniqueness of it all. Lets dissect these qualities shall we? The acting is just great. This is expected of such greats as Maggie Smith (The Prime of Miss Jean Brody) and Richard Harris (Dumbledore) but the young talent is also very convincing. The trio is brilliant although Emma did seem to be throwing A LOT into the role, perhaps TOO much. Rumour has it that she was very stressed on set and at such an age the pressure must have gotten to her. The child extras are also very good. They are natural and really come across as a group of school kids. Next the cast. Dear God it’s like a production of Macbeth. Right I’m gonna try to recite some of them for you (Deep breath) Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, John Hurt, Alan Rickman, John Cleese, Julie Walters, Richard Griffiths, Fiona Shaw… [collapses from exhaustion]
Right now for the plot. I love the way they start and also how they introduce Voldemort. You don’t see Voldemort try to kill Harry, instead you see the aftermath. The film starts with Harry being left at the Dursleys and Voldemort isn’t really introduced until Hagrid tells him about his parent’s deaths. I also like the way the film makes the viewer mistrust Snape, completely misleading us and making Quirrel seem more like an extra rather than one of the major antagonists. I love the challenges that are present before actually reaching the stone and the concept of the mirror is an obvious but very enjoyable one. The look of Voldemort is quite chilling and even now I get a little bit freaked out when Quirrel is unwrapping that turban. The characters are just ridiculously brilliant and imaginative. Dumbledores obviously based on Gandalf or Merlin but he’s so wonderfully charming and brilliant that you don’t care. The whole Voldemort thing is just awesome. This is one of my favorite characters ever and, whilst his back story isn’t really expanded until later in the series, and even then it’s not really done at all, I think Voldemort is a very complex yet simple character. The scenery is just breathtaking. I’m mainly talking about the outside of the castle, which is literally awesome, but the interior looks really…castly… The series is incredibly unique and a lot of work must have gone into it. The spells are all Latin, the names of some of the characters must have taken ages to come up with and the subject, dear God these subjects must have been tricky to come up with. The film throws together elements from folk tales, witches and wizards, Greek Mythology, Fluffy, and generally boarding schools as a whole, Hogwarts. This entire series is just so imaginative and new and I would argue that because of this brand of imagination it may have singlehandedly resurrected the fantasy genre. Finally the music is some of the greatest I have ever heard on a film. John Williams is a master and his work can bring a tear to anybody’s eye. I am so glad that they used the leaving Hogwarts tune in the final part. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone is a wonderful film and one that should be shown to every child, only after they’ve read the books though. I enjoy this film and whilst I don’t think it, or the majority of the other films in the series, to be relatively high up on my list of favorite films, I do wholeheartedly recommend it.
A brilliant film with a brilliant cast, plot, concept, look and spectacular music: