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    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's (Philosopher's) Stone [26]

    Movie Reviews
      
         
    This was a brilliant surprise for me in 2001. I certainly have been aware of all the hoopla surrounding the release of the new Harry Potter books in 1998-2000. My first real look was when Marshall Field's (Daytons) 8th floor hosted the Harry Potter display in Christmas 2000. Maybe I just did not have time to read; maybe I thought that it was too simplistic. Whatever the reason, I never read any of the books until I finally saw this movie.

    Needless to say, the casting is excellent. Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint are outstanding as Harry, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Robbie Coltrane plays a great gentle giant in Hagrid. He reminded me of the Ghost of Christmas present. Ah, shouldn't a told yer that.

    This has somewhat of a take off of British public schoolboy stories. Except this time, no one is getting caned. We are introduced to Harry and find out he has special powers and is the son of two wizards. He gets to go to a special school, Hogwarts. A special train from King's Cross will take you there departing from platform 9 3/4.

    As with all school stories, there is a bully. This time it is Draco Malfoy. A rudimentary knowledge of Latin will take you far in the Harry Potter stories. In this case “mal” and “draco” let you know that this kid is a bad seed. There is also a love interest, Hermione Granger and a best friend Ron Weasley. There is a sports competition (Quidditch) in which Harry emerges victorious.

    What is different with other school stories is that there is a really bad guy, Lord Voldemort, trying to kill Harry. Why, we don’t know, only that he killed Harry’s parents for opposing him long ago. Also, all of the characters have the ability to use powerful magic according to their ability.

    Movie Note: For the American market, J.K. Rowling’s texts were edited by an American editor, Arthur Levine. The most obvious change is the Philosopher's stone to Sorcerer's stone. This change was done with the approval of J.K. Rowling. Nicholas Flamel was, in fact, the alchemist associated with the finally creating the elusive philosopher's stone. More about Flamel can be read at http://www.alchemylab.com/flamel.htm When learning about chemistry in grade school, the introduction begins with alchemy, during which the philosopher's stone is prominently mentioned. This encyclopedia article about alchemy at www.encyclopedia.com covers the properties of the philosopher's stone. Thus, many American children may have heard of the item as I did when I was younger. Nevertheless, I cannot fault Mr. Levine for underestimating the intelligence of the average American teenager and punching up the title (sorceror: a practitioner of black magic vs. philosopher: a rather nerdy professor type). His decision was apparently the correct one, as J.K. Rowling's books became extremly popular in the United States. Now the search is on for the UK versions of the books to see if they are more difficult to understand.

    Famed author Roald Dahl (inventor of Willie Wonka) wrote an autobiographical tale called "Boy" about how really brutal an English public (private boarding) school could be. He described Repton school to be somewhat like doing time in prison, with canings, constant aggravation, and struggles for domination. Hogwart's looks like a picnic compared to Repton in the 1930's. Interestingly enough and tying this in, the "Smeltings" uniform worn by Dudley Dursley looks very much like the Repton uniform as described by Dahl - Right down to the straw boating hat and tailcoat.

    I enjoyed this movie immensely. This also makes a good date movie. It does not matter if your date is familiar with other works of Science Fiction or Fantasy, this is a story that just works and magic advances the story just like in a Grimm fairy tale. After seeing this movie, I picked up all of the books and read them, because I wanted to know so much more about the wonderful world of Harry Potter. {BB}

    Added: July 6th 2004
    Reviewer: BB
    29 Point Scale Score: 26    [26]

    Related Link (IMDB): IMDB
    Hits: 3981
    Language: english

      

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