23 October 2010

The Harry Potter Retrospective: Part I

Harry Potter and The Philosophy’s Stone – Chris Columbus

Welcome to the first of the series where we look back at the wonderful film franchise that is, Harry Potter. And try to say the name without using Snape’s or Voldemort’s voice. It’s quite difficult. But anyway back to the retrospective of the young wizard’s journey from being a little boy into being a little taller boy. Not much of transition compared to others in the film, Potter doesn’t grow balls until the fourth or fifth film and by then Ron Weasley is having his licked. Don’t worry, sick jokes like those will be thrown in for fun, so the next time you watch a Harry Potter film you’ll be thinking of some parts you may have missed or just didn’t want to think about. Starting with the 2001 epic that is The Philosophy’s Stone, strangely named The Sorcerer’s Stone in the US because of them not understand what a Philosophy is, and it marks the beginning of a trend. Released in November, for the next couple of years, with a year in between, the films would be released in the Christmas period where kids are off from school and the parents can take them. This proves to be great strategy with millions, billions even, going to see these films every time. And with the film being set at a snowy castle in the middle of forests and a lake, its winter feel is a great match for the colder and darker times of the year. A great memory of mine, being 12 and going with my mum to go see the first film and loving it and from then on, having a tradition to see the films with my family, it’s just a given, it may seem childish and sad but fuck it, not many other films you can have the bond with. And with two films still to be released, i shall cherish those moments and secretly miss them when they stop making the Potter films.

Let’s begin with the plot, with a young boy named Harry Potter, his real parents Lily and James both killed in a murder by a man named Lord Voldemort, or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and Potter s then taken to live with relatives named the Dursleys. He isn’t treated the same, with living underneath the stairs and being a slave to the family. But after his 11th birthday, he is sent a letter that turns his world upside down. He is revealed to be a wizard and that he will be attending Hogwarts School of Wizards and Witches in a few weeks time. He is then picked up by the giant named Hagrid who saves him and helps him collect his school equipment. After reading the train to Hogwarts from platform 9 ¾ he meets Ron Weasley, a ginger boy also going to the school, along with the uptight and very talented Hermione Granger, and the three of them form a friendship that will last the entirety of the film and more. After being placed into his house, Gryffindor, he meets more wizards like his teachers, Albus Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape and Professor Quirrell. He learns that he has a natural ability for the Wizard game called Quidditch and becomes a member of Gryffindor’s team. The three of them soon find themselves uncovering a secret in the castle where a large dog guards a door leading into a secret area. A stone that Harry first saw with Hagrid under much debate and after a troll attack which the three of them fight off, they go in search of clues. The answer leads to Snape who seems to be hiding something underneath that dog and after going past it, defeating a massive chess game and other challenges, it is revealed that the killer of Harry’s parents lives, Lord Voldemort and is a part of Professor Quirrell who is the culprit all along. They fight and Voldemort is somewhat defeated. Everything goes back to the normal and you have yourself a cheesy ending to go with it too.

The film is a childfest with jokes aimed at them and acting that just screams amateur hour but you have to take credit for it as it is acted by 11 year olds and a film about wizards. You can’t be that harsh, but what the hell, that’s what i’m here for. Just watch Daniel Radcliffe’s facial expressions (Harry Potter) in every scene and you’ll see he has 4 stock faces: scared, sad, happy and expressionless. There are no other faces he makes, just those. It’s really weird and strange. I paused the film over 10 times just to laugh at some of the expressions made. Also another thing you might want to pick up on, the music. Two points where the music is quality, especially the chess scene where it really gets into your head. I know it’s a child’s film and it’s aimed at them, but it’s laughable in parts and it’s different compared to the rest, but we’ll talk about that some other time. For now, that was part 1 in the retrospective. Look at next time for part 2, The Chamber of Secrets.

Simon Childs

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