In November of this year we’re getting the first film in J.K. Rowlings’s wizarding world since the Harry Potter series wrapped up in 2011. So as a huge Harry Potter fan I’ve decided to review all the Harry Potter films, from the first to the last leading up to the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Starting off with The Philosopher’s Stone.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone stars Daniel Radcliffe (The Woman in Black, Horns), Rupert Grint (Currently working at Tesco), Emma Watson (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Noah), Richard Harris (Gladiator, Unforgiven) and is directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Home Alone 2).
Harry Potter is an ordinary boy who lives with his mean uncle, aunt and nephew, until a mysterious man rescues him and takes him to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. From there he makes new friends and discovers the evil from his past.
My earliest memory is being 5 years old, standing in the cold with my grandparents, parents and sisters, waiting to go see Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I can’t remember a time when Harry Potter wasn’t involved in my life and for that reason it will always be the most important franchise in my film loving career. I have such fond memories of this film and watching it again recently brought them all back. My nostalgia and personal connection probably blinds me but for me this film is a perfect piece of magical work. So lets let this lovefest begin for one of my favorite films ever.
This is the first film, so the first thing I have to mention is the incredible cast of new and veteran actors they assembled. Radcliffe, Grint and Watson even at their age, were the perfect 3 children to play these characters. Daniel Radcliffe’s genuine wonder and excitement, captured the magic and expansiveness of the world we were about to spend many years in. The instant chemistry between the 3 of them is so strong and I still don’t think I’ve seen friendship so effortlessly created again, ever! Alan Rickman is someone who I’ll be praising constantly throughout all these reviews and in the Philosopher Stone we get introduced to his iconic character Severus Snape. Rickman gives a masterful performance, everything from his speech pattern, facial expressions and presence is excellent.
Every time I watch a Harry Potter film, the one aspect that hits me right in the face is the beautiful set design and costumes. When you first go into the Great Hall at Hogwarts the awe and beauty of the room takes your breath away, along with many other scenes like seeing the outside of Hogwarts for the first time and the first visit to Diagon Alley. The costumes in Harry Potter are so unique and specific to the world, that you can look at the basic outfit that Harry wears and see the small attention to detail in every thread. I love the outfits in Star Wars or Lord of the Rings but nothing comes close to the costume design of Judianna Makovsky.
The first two films in this franchise are directed by Chris Columbus, so with that you do get a lighter tone compared to the rest of the series and that’s exactly what the source material called for. Watching the Chris Columbus version of Harry Potter is probably the single happiest past time anyone can undergo. Like I said earlier, maybe my nostalgia blinds my judgment but every scene in this film makes me smile with joy. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is one big, warm hug from Hagrid.
I’m a Star Wars fanatic and so I probably shouldn’t say this in fear of loosing my Star Wars nerd card but the Harry Potter music is my favorite of all John Williams scores. Over and over again Williams manages to reinvent himself and make iconic scores, after iconic scores, yet still being different. Hedwig’s Theme is a beautiful piece of music that gives me goosebumps without fail, every time I hear it. Like all good score should, Williams score for this film adds atmosphere and emotion to every scene and ultimately Williams gave more to this franchise than any other person.
The reason I love films, the reason I’m a huge fan of other franchises and the reason I’m writing this today, is because I saw Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone at 5 years old and it change my life. From that day on I developed a passion for everything I went on to love and obsess over from Lord of the Rings, Batman, Star Wars and even something like Lost (when it first started). I don’t know if I ever would have latched onto anything like I did, if I hadn’t of had that formative experience in the cinema, watching Harry Potter. I never realised until recently that the first Harry Potter film is a 152 minute film and as a 5 year old boy, I sat and watched every second of that film completely transported into another world and I like to think I never left.
Have you seen Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone (If you haven’t…why?) and what do you think of it?