Harry Potter (2001)
||Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint,
Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane,
||David Heyman and Tanya Seghatchian
|| Steven Kloves based on novel by
|Approximate Running Time:
Children's adventure mystery
Harry Potter is an orphan living with his truly dispicable Aunt
and Uncle when something marvelous happens on his 11th birthday.
It begins as a trickle and turns into a landslide which culminates
with the gentle giant, Hagrid, sweeping Harry off to the magical
school of Hogwarts, where Harry can learn to achieve his ultimate
destiny - wizard. Once at Hogwarts, Harry finds himself falling
into adventure with his friends Rod and Hermoine, as they try
to protect the Philosophers Stone from falling into the wrong
I am probably one of the few people out there who has yet to attempt
a second viewing of this movie. No one can doubt the movie was
a success, but it came at a price - it failed to take on a life
of its own. True, one could argue that to have not stuck to the
book would have caused protest from tens of millions of children
and adults throughout the world. However, by remaining faithful
to the book, the film lacks lustre and worse, key scenes were
and the Philosopher's Stone has undoubtedly the dream cast! For
all the adults reading the book, they no doubt imagined Richard
Harris as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore , Maggie Smith as Professor
Minerva McGonagall and Alan Rickman as Snape. Columbus' choices
for the children was spot on the mark and he has assembled an
incredibly strong group of talent. Personally, I felt Rupert Grint
stole the show as Ron, probably the only character to actually
improve on the book!
all the strength in the cast, only Alan Rickman seemed to be given
the reigns to actually put a bit of life in his portrayal as Snape.
He only had a few scenes in the movie, but it has sparked a revolution
in teenage fans and firmly emblazoned his name on the actors landscape
as a power to be reckoned with. Not bad for 10 minutes of screen
time! Dumbledore and McGonagall were absolute shadows of the potential
for Harris and Smith. True, Coltrane was also given a lot of leeway
to create a credible Hagrid - but no doubt that is because of
all the adult characters in the film, he is the one children are
most likely going to identify with - a lovable, slightly dim buffoon
who makes mistakes and humerous ones at that!
mention should be made of the music and overall scenery - also
absolutely spot on - captured the Harry Potter book perfectly
and yet filled our imaginations with 1000s of details that we
had no doubt not included in our mental image of Hogwarts! William's
music was perfect for the whole fantasical yet dark atmosphere
which so quintessentially captures the Harry Potter books.
where the film fell down badly was in the special effects arena.
From start to finish, the need to film the first Harry Potter
film in a hurry was evident the moment they cast Daniel Radcliffe
as Harry - they had to get 2 films out before the actor's voice
broke! The timing of the film's release must have also played
a factor - at the end of 2001, right about the same time the long
awaited first film in the Lord of the Rings series was due to
premiere. The net result was a lot of digital scenes in Harry
Potter had a 'rushed' feel about them - like the 2-dimensional
boy falling from the castle pinnacle at the first Quidditch practice...
Although there was a huge public demand to get the film out, it
could certainly have done with a few more months in the editing
be few people who won't be seeing this huge commercial blockbuster.
There will be even fewer who won't see the series. I will undoubtedly
see the next movies, but am rather glad that at the time of writing,
there will be 18 months between the 2nd and 3rd movies - and a
change of directors! This gives everyone time to make sure that
the Harry Potter series will only get better from here on out!