Harry Potter finds out that there’s a whole hidden world of wizards and witches.
What’s more he’s an integral, famous part of this new world. He’s “the boy who lived!”, whatever that means.
A lot to take in for a boy who didn’t even know wizards existed.
For his entire life Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has been controlled and restricted by his Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths). Married to Harry’s mother’s sister, Petunia (Fiona Shaw), Uncle Vernon tries to hide Harry’s real heritage from him.
When Harry approaches his 11th birthday, Uncle Vernon finds this now impossible as Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) comes to collect the young wizard and escort him to his first term at Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
He’ll meet new friends, like Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), and make new enemies, like Professor Snape (Alan Rickman) and Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). Yep, even one of his new teachers seems to be out to get him.
But more importantly, he’ll learn of ‘He who must not be named‘, how his parents really died and hints at his own destiny. All the time trying to complete his studies in a world that is wholly new to him.
The first Potter movie is an enjoyable, innocent ride that introduces the audience to all the major elements of the story. A lot of the first half of the movie is taken up magically [sic] revealing the wizarding world to Harry and thus us.
Nicely acted by a young inexperienced cast and obvious care was taken over all the actor selections. Daniel Radcliffe seems made for the role. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson seem to enjoy and relish their roles too. With all the rest of the young cast pulling the story along the adults hardly seem necessary.
Put, boy, do the adult help! We start with the Dursleys played by Richard Griffiths and Fiona Shaw and quickly on to Hagrid, played by Robbie Coltrane. The movie starts with a quick glimpse of magic with a flying motorcycle, a light extinguishing “lighter” and a transmorphing cat. Later we learn more of Headmaster Dumbledore, played quietly by Richard Harris, and Professor McGonagall beautifully played by Maggie Smith. I can’t help thinking about Miss Jean Brodie though.
I could go on.
The book is well loved and watching the viewer feels it has been dealt with properly. Perhaps some small (hopefully) items are changed but that is always the case with adaptations. Or nearly. Perhaps I am down-playing the plot of the Philosopher’s Stone itself but that’s because the emphasis does seem to be “this is what we are doing, I hope you enjoy it”. But there is no excuse for renaming it “Sorcerer’s Stone” – that makes no sense at all.
However, I enjoy the movie every time I see it and it is a wonderful adventure.
Things to look out for: snake, “There’s no such thing as magic.“, Diagon Alley, Hogwart’s, “Curious, very curious.“, Alan Rickman‘s wonderful Snape, “She needs to sort out her priorities.“, Fluffy, friends and friendship, Quidditch, “I shouldn’t have said that.“, the power of love, The Mirror of Erised, the magic begins…
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Griffiths, Maggie Smith, Fiona Shaw, Tom Felton, Alan Rickman, Ian Hart, Julie Walters
Rating: highly entertaining magical adventure, very highly rcommended
Part of “Harry Potter, The Complete 8-Film Collection”