Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Harry Potter Movies

Released: 2001
Director: Chris Columbus
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson

A great adaptation which brings the magic to life


After the astonishing success of the first couple of Harry Potter books it was inevitable that the big Hollywood studios would be knocking on JK Rowling’s door begging for the rights to make the films.  This is a multi-book franchise after all.  Plenty of sequel potential.

Before the film was even made there was a huge amount of publicity.  We got our first sight of the three children who would be playing the lead roles – and it seemed good at this stage.  Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson just looked like Harry, Ron and Hermione.  The production team set to work.  The making of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was under way.

The film was released in November 2001.  At the time I was working away from home with Darren and other colleagues and friends.  We decided that a team outing to the cinema was definitely on the cards.  Some of us were paid-up fans of the books, others including Darren hadn’t read the books yet.  I think we were the perfect audience for the film.  And we all enjoyed it.

The film is a pretty faithful adaptation of the book, telling the story of Harry’s discovery that he is a wizard, his first year at Hogwart’s Witchcraft and Wizardry and a confrontation with the evil Lord Voldemort.  There are, of course, some omissions and slight changes from the book but JK Rowling worked closely with scriptwriter Steve Kloves to ensure that nothing important was missed or worse – later works were contradicted.

Director Chris Columbus creates a bright, inviting, exciting world.  Diagon Alley is reminiscent of a picture perfect Victorian street scene and you feel reassured that Harry is entering a better world than twee muggle life of the Dursleys.

The moment I knew that this film was really going to hold the same magic for me as the books was when the Hogwarts Express appeared on-screen for the first time.  According to Darren, my friend Alan and I sat grinning like big kids when we saw it.  I can believe that.  It was just perfect on the big screen.  I was relieved, it was all going to be fine.  This was reinforced by the Quidditch scene, to me the best sequence of the film with its well-rendered CGI effects and quick fire pace.

If I’m totally honest the performances by the central child stars aren’t brilliant.  They aren’t that bad either but there’s a couple of clanging moments and at times it seems like they are searching for the script.  On the other hand they are very young and they don’t come across as obnoxious luvvie brats and that makes everything forgivable.   They are perfect looking for the roles and we know there’s time for them to grow into the roles and improve their acting skills.

The adult support is outstanding.  A veritable whos-who of British acting royalty.  Particularly impressive are Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid and of course, Alan Rickman as the slimy Professor Snape.  To the be truthful though all of the adult cast is impressive.

Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone is a fantastic adaptation of the book with strong (adult) acting, great effects and the promise of better things to come.

Previous and next posts in this series:Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets >>
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  1. Of all the films i loved this, i wondered how they would bring this book to life, but they did a brillaint job and Daniel Ratcliffe did not disappoint me as Harry. It was sheer magic from start to finish.

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