17 Jun 2009

Potter Wednesdays: The Philosopher's Stone

Has it been that long? The evidence is right before my eyes but I find it hard to believe they were ever that young! What a difference a few years makes at that age!

This movie is just as delightful as the first time I saw it! It's a very simple story and as in the book the characters aren't fully formed, but it serves wonderfully in its purpose which is to introduce us (and Harry) into the wonderful wizarding world of J.K.Rowling. I love seeing the wonder in Harry's eyes as he's introduced into this world he belongs to but has known nothing about for the past decade. First fear when Hagrid appears, then curiosity and finally wonder and joy as they shop in Diagon Alley and he walks into Hogwarts for the first time. It's still thrilling to see them flying, particularly in the Quidditch match (I wish we got to see more of those!). I enjoy seeing the nascent rivalry between Harry and Draco Malfoy, Hermione's smug know-it-all-ness comes through very well as does Neville Longbottom's all-around clumsiness. And isn't Hedwig beautiful?!

A Favourite Moment (among many): Alan Rickman's entrance into his Potions class! Snape sweeps in and tells them: "I can teach you how to bewitch the mind, snare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory and put a stopper in death." All the while Malfoy looks up at him almost in adoration, while poor Harry is carefully writing this down so he won't forget it. Totally a new student moment, worried about not having written down something terribly important that might come up in the exam! :p

Things I missed from the book:
  • The final task separating them from the Philosopher's Stone, the one where Hermione's smarts are used to solve Snape's riddle and gives Harry the right potion to let him through the fiery door to Quirrell and the mirror of Erised.
  • More Norbert!!! They wrap up the dragon story waaaay too quickly in the movie!
  • More talk about the importance of the Quidditch Cup to the students, they just show a single Quidditch match and then never mention it again! But some of the students live and breathe quidditch and you don't get that feel at all! :o(
  • Oh, and I always imagined the Sorting Hat completely covering their heads so you couldn't see their faces...
  • Something else that bugs me, Hagrid picks Harry up on his birthday and takes him to Diagon Alley. In the movie it appears that straight after that he drops him off at Kings Cross Station to catch the Hogwarts Express... small timing problem here, Harry's b-day is July 31st (me too!) and school starts September 1st! In the book it's clear he spends the remaining month with the Dursleys who are scared of him thanks to Hagrid giving Dudley that pig-tail... (the Dursleys are such fun!)
  • And I never did understand why the name was changed to "Sorcerer's Stone" in the U.S., makes no sense at all since the Philosopher's Stone is actually an object that many alchemists in the Middle Ages believed existed!

There are probably some other differences (I do a lot of nitpicking when I see movies based on books I've enjoyed), but I haven't read the book recently enough to remember them (I'll go through the series of books to prep for the 7th movie next year).

To finish off, I'd like to send you along to an interesting post I came across when googling Harry Potter (looking for photos, it's amazing how much time that takes!). Pop Classics is a blog by a British PhD student in Classics who looks at the influence of Classics (greek, roman) in pop culture. In one post (click here) she discusses the first three Harry Potter books and movies, explaining the origins of certain names and spells, and just sharing her delight in this magical world! If you enjoy languages as much as I do it's fun finding out the origins of many terms and names in the books! :o)


  1. I rarely enjoy a movie as much as the book. Especially the type that requires the imagination to conjour up evil doers! My mind always beats the crew!

  2. I likes how the first movie captured the magical feel of the early books, especially in Diagon Alley, and the pseudo-Victorian/medieval look of the wizarding world. It was a bit long though - it possibly could have done with more Norbert, but also with trimming some of the longer scenes.

    Cheers for the link!:)

  3. Hey Juliette! Thanks for stopping by, I've been really enjoying your blog!

    Yeah, I think the first movie does a great job at creating that magical atmosphere that you can just feel through the pages of the book! It didn't feel long to me, but I guess because I was missing some extra stuff!

    MzzLily, I usually have that problem as well. Once I've read the book I'm pretty sure to be disappointed by the movie. But once in a while a screenwriter and director with a unique vision of their own and some great actors (I can't imagine a better Snape!) bring the book to life in such a way that I'm sold! It happened with the first Potter films (not so much after the third because so much kept being left out), and it happened with The Lord of the Rings (I was rather upset with many aspects at the beginning, but then grew to appreciate it more and more)


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