Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Harry Potter: The Philosopher's Stone - Book vs. Film

When a series as well known and well loved as the Harry Potter books get made into films, it is fairly predictable that they are never going to manage to be wholly accurate conversions. Plot twists have been lost, things didn't always look the way you imagined them to when reading and certain plot developments were totally altered. But there remains something totally magical about seeing the world of Hogwarts and muggles on the big screen and the films have, collectively, done amazing things for the British film industry. It also helps that the cast lists read like a who's who of British actors.

Book 1: The Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter is 11 years old and living with his mean auntie, uncle and cousin in a small house in Surrey, more specifically in the cupboard under the stairs. As his 11th birthday approaches he learns that he is in fact a wizard and his parents were not killed in a car crash as he has been told all his life - but murdered by an evil wizard. As Harry enters the magical world of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry he learns that he is famous in the wizarding world as the boy who lived. He immediately makes friends with Ron Weasley and the two later become friends with the loveable know-it-all Hermione Granger. The three learn about Nicholas Flamel and the Philosopher's Stone, a gem that gives its owner eternal life. But they are not the only people aware of its presence and it's a race to the finish to make sure the stone does not fall into the wrong hands.
As the first book in the series, the introduction of Harry into the wizarding world is as seamless as it is for the reader, with spells and customs explained to both at the same time. The teachers are a mix of fun and quirky, stern and moody. And of course there is Headmaster Professor Albus Dumbledore - the grandfather figure who manages to be cute and fluffy and powerful all at once. Dumbledore is, after all, the only wizard feared by Voldermort - the evil wizard who killed Harry's parents and many others and a wizard so feared that people daren't speak his name.

Best Line
Hermione: Now, I am going to bed before EITHER of you think of
another brilliant idea to get us killed, or worse, expelled.
Ron: She needs to sort out her priorities.

As a film, this was arguably the most anticipated film of the last ten+ years. Children and adults across the world had grown to love the books and were eager to see their favourite characters on the big screen. And it didn't disappoint. The new young actors Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson weren't perfect but they weren't bad at all. Rupert Grint especially shone with the adorable charm of a Weasley.

It was a little cheesy in parts but the action more than made up for it. The three headed guard dog, the first ever look at the game of Quidditch (performed brutally on broomsticks) and a brilliantly creative and gripping finale made for a brilliant and very promising opener to the series.

Cast included Richard Harris as Dumbledore, the always brilliant Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, Alan Rickman as nasty teacher Severus Snape and Robbie Coltrane as the gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid. Even Harry's bullying and nasty classmate Draco Malfoy was played by Tom Felton who had already acted in The Borrowers and Anna and the King alongside Jodie Foster.

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