A film by Chris Columbus
This is the first film in the Harry Potter series and it is adapted from J.K. Rowling s novel of the same title. A common complaint about movies that have been adapted from a book is that the movie strays too far from the book and that it makes too many changes. This is sometimes necessary as film and novels are two different mediums and need to tell stories in different ways, but sometimes unnecessary changes are made. Happily, this is not the case with this movie. This movie is extremely faithful to the book, and I think the film works because of that.
By now, many people probably have a good idea what Harry Potter is all about. For those who are not in the know, here s the story for this movie. Young Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) is living with his aunt and his uncle because his parents died when he was an infant. It is obvious they do not want him around as he is forced to live in the closet under the stairs and he is treated like a servant, an unwelcome servant at that. One day owls start arriving at the house and deliver letters to Harry. We see that the letters are from Hogwarts. Harry s uncle keeps destroying the letters, but more come each day. Finally he has had enough and Harry s Uncle takes the family (including Harry) to a remote island where no letters can reach them. It is at this point that Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) finds Harry, tells him that Harry is a wizard, and that he is to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. See, Harry is a wizard, and is the son of a wizard. Harry s parents were not killed in a car accident (as he had been told), but rather they were killed by the Dark Lord Voldemort, a wizard gone bad. Harry is the boy who lived, which is why he is famous in the wizarding world.
At Hogwarts, Harry makes friends with Ron Weasely (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), and makes an enemy of Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton). Ron and Hermione are also first year students and are in Gryffindor House with Harry. Draco is also a first year, but is in Slytherin House (Ron tells Harry that not a wizard went bad that wasn t in Slytherin ). Harry, Ron, and Hermione become good friends and get into little adventures together. They believe that someone is trying to steal something called the Sorcerer s Stone and since no adult will believe them, they try to figure this out on their own. At the same time, they are in the first year of school, so they have to go to their classes in magic. A little bit of time is spent in each class so that we get a sense of the school and a sense of the magic of that Harry and friends are supposed to be learning.
The movie is very faithful to the book, so most events from the book are included in this movie and while it is a fairly long movie (2 and a half hours), it moves along fast enough that you don t really feel like you ve spent so much time. One of the reasons you don t feel the time is that the acting is fantastic. The actors are so perfect for their roles that they are almost exactly how I imagined the characters to be. Two actors who stand out are Richard Harris as Albus Dumbledore and Alan Rickman as Professor Snape. Rickman, especially, is a delight to watch. This role border s on Rickman s Sheriff of Nottingham (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) as one of his great characters. The movie also features Maggie Smith (Professor McGonagall) and Warwick Davis (Professor Flitwick).
Even though I would recommend the book to anyone, I m not convinced the movie is for everyone. I thought that the movie captured the events and the spirit of the book, but is missing some of the charm. Rowling s novel just sucks you in, but at times I thought the movie was only for fans of the book. I really enjoyed the movie, and I will give it a good rating, but it may not convert people who don t really enjoy fantasy (or movies that have fantasy elements).
I'll give this 4 out of 5 pugs