Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone
directed by Chris Columbus
(Warner Brothers, 2001)

Harry Potter has enjoyed great fame in both the wizarding world and the real world. With the release of his film, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer's Stone, based on J.K. Rowling's novel of the same name, his fame is sure to spread even farther.

For all those who have not yet gotten around to reading the books, this movie is a must see. Following the original plot closely, it eliminates only events that would muddle the story. The special effects are done tactfully; only in one case did I feel it was overdone. For once, Hollywood has managed to transform a wonderful book into just as terrific a film.

Beginning with Harry's unfortunate delivery to his muggle (non-wizarding) aunt and uncle, the plot dwells briefly but adequately on his early years in the Dursley home. The neglectful, nasty Dursleys, including Harry's cousin of the same age, may seem a little overacted, but that's forgivable since they are pretty exaggerated in the book as well. They serve to make Harry' rescue and subsequent arrival at Hogwart's School of Wizarding seem all the more miraculous.

Once at Hogwart's the real magic begins. The settings are beautiful, filled with richly hued fabrics, gleaming silver and gold accents, even floating tiers of candles. Quidditch, the school's primary sport, is thrilling to see, as the players zip through the air in pursuit of the very elusive golden snitch.

In the title role, young actor Daniel Radcliffe is the perfect personification of Harry Potter. Along with most of the other cast members, he is exactly how I had imagined he should be. Rupert Grint and Emma Watson also command attention as Harry's two best friends, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. All three were unknown actors at the time of casting but are sure to receive much attention in the future. Robbie Coltraine, as the ogrish Hagrid, is sweet and caring, but strong and protective when called upon.

As much as I love Alan Rickman, I must admit that I had pictured Professor Snape as more menacing than this portrayal.

The rating is PG, which should be considered when deciding whether or not to bring younger children, as the scenes are very realistic, and frightening parts are not toned down.

Luckily, screenwriter Steven Cloves (Wonder Boys) and director Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire) were chosen to adapt this story for film. They stayed absolutely true to the plot, as well as the emotions conveyed in Rowling's writing. Sure to become a classic children's movie, Harry Potter is just as entertaining for adults. And arriving just in time for the holidays, it makes a fun evening out for the family. Let the magic begin.

[ by Katie Knapp ]
Rambles: 24 November 2001

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