Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone

Hogwarts Year One

I have seen enough Potter-Verse costumes at the local Ren Faires that I attend to know that the people of the faire cricuit, Rennies, Boothies, performers and merchants alike love them some Potter.  And… so do I.  To that end, Film Friday will be dedicated to the Potter-Verse for the next 8 weeks.  We start of course with Hogwarts – Year One – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Plot Synopsis (There Be Spoilers):

sorcerors stoneHarry is living with Muggles (if you don’t know this vocabulary, shame on you and might I add, go read a book or watch a movie).  He does not know that he is a wizard or that his parents were wizards.  He gets his invitation to attend Hogwarts and after his aunt and uncle trying to hide him from the letters and from the wizards, he ends up going to Hogwarts after picking up school supplies from Diagon Alley.  Hogwarts is a magical place – pun intended – and Harry starts to assimilate with the other students from the get go, even though he is famous for defeating He Who Must Not Be Named while he was only a baby.  One of the teachers at the school is up to no good.  Harry and his two new best friends – Ron and Hermione – decide to investigate and find out who is trying to reach the Sorcerer’s Stone.  After working their way through a maze of traps and spells, they find out that it is Quirrell, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, that is in league with Voldemort.  Harry defeats Quirrell and Voldemort is vanquished for a time.  Thus ends Harry’s first year at Hogwarts.

The Good

There will be lots of actors and actresses that will popup over the next few weeks.
If you don’t see your favorites this week, wait a little while and you will probably see them later.

Richard Harris – Professor Dumbledore – The original Dumbledore.  Harris made Dumbledore come to life.  Though I am a Gambon fan, Harris originated the role and he will be missed.  He was a much softer Dumbledore and it would have been interesting to see how he handled some of the later movies more intense scenes.

 I was most unfortunate in my youth to come across a vomit-flavored one, and since then I’m afraid I’ve lost my liking for them. But, I think I could be safe with a nice toffee. [eats the jellybean] Mm, alas, earwax.

Maggie Smith – Professor McGonagall – Maggie Smith was born to play this part. The voice, the look and of course the looks that she gives the children you would swear that she was a teacher at some point in her life instead of an actress.

Well, thank you for that assessment, Mr Weasley. Perhaps it would be more useful if I were to transfigure Mr Potter and yourself into a pocket watch? That way, one of you might be on time.

Robbie Coltrane – Hagrid – I will admit that I saw the first three movies before I ever started reading the books.  After I got into the books, I was floored out how perfect Robbie Coltrane was for this part.  Now, my first exposure to Robbie Coltrane, or at least the first one that I can remember is from Golden Eye – back in the day.  Taking Robbie Coltrane as the Russian spy turned gangster and turning him into Hagrid was a leap in casting that many people would not have taken, but seriously who else could have played the role.

First – and understand this, Harry, ’cause it’s very important – not all wizards are good. Some of them go bad. A few years ago there was one wizard that went as bad as you can go, and his name was V-

Alan Rickman – Snape – What can you say about Alan Rickman that has not already been said. Rickman chews the scenery in most movies that he is in but in this film his understated Snape is perfect.  He is just dark enough, just creepy enough, just slimy enough to make Snape… Snape.  Great take on the role and he, just like Coltrane, is an example of perfect casting.

Snape: Tell me, what would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?
[Harry doesn’t answer]
Snape: You don’t know? Well, let’s try again. Where, Mr. Potter, would you look if I asked you to find me a bezoar?
Harry: I don’t know, sir.
Snape: And what is the difference between monkshood and wolfsbane?
Harry: I don’t know, sir.
Snape: Pity. Clearly, fame isn’t everything, is it, Mr. Potter?

The Sorcerer’s Stone Story – I love the depth of the storytelling.  Using Nicholas Flamel as the creator of the Sorcerer’s Stone was genius on JK Rowling’s part.  Flamel is a real person that was an alchemist and actually did research and work on the Sorcerer’s / Philosopher’s Stone back in the day.  Great digging for that piece of the plot.

Hogwarts Castle – The castle was amazing.  From the pieces of actual set to the digital portions that were inserted later, the castle was amazing.  You could have shown the castle in every scene and I would not have been happier.  Just beautiful.

The Bad

Dursley’s Reaction to Hogwarts – I had the same reaction to this in the book that I had in the movie: Why were the Dursley’s mad that Harry was going to Hogwarts?  Petunia’s sister, Harry’s mother, went to Hogwart’s she would have known that there would be no cost to the Dursley family coffers.  They also had to realize that they would be getting rid of Harry for a long time – the entire school year.  There is some logic missing in their reaction to Harry’s invitation to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

The Ugly

There is no Ugly in this movie.  I even watched it recently looking for the Ugly but I was daunted in that task.

Love this movie.  The Sorcerer’s Stone is the start to some of the best storytelling on the silver screen in my lifetime.  These are timeless movies that just leak family friendly fun.  Light-hearted and wonderful, this introductory chapter into the Potter-Verse is fantastic.