Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Amy on Potter #1 - The Philosopher's Stone Movie

On 16th November 2001 I went to the cinema with a friend. It was her birthday and she wanted to see some film about Wizard that I didn't even want to see. I was secretly hoping that she would change her mind at the last minute. But no, we went into the crappy Stockport Virgin (now Cineworld - main hunting ground for chavs) Cinema and we sat in our seats. Slowly, more and more people joined us which, while not uncommon for a film on it's opening night, caught me a bit off guard because the parents were just as excited as the kids.

The film was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I saw the film, went to that girl's sleep-over, tongued a girl for the first time for a bet, tottled off home the next day and went to my bookshelf where a very dusty copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets lay. My Dad bought me the book hoping to get me into reading, but was unaware that there was an order to the books (bless him) so it gathered dust for a year. By New Year 2002 I had read all the books that were out at the time (the first four) and my life was changed. Not only did it spring in me a love for reading (bear in mind I was of the "Nickleodeon Generation" and that what we looked forward to everyday was watching an episode of Sabrina the Teenage Which at about 5pm that I had already seen about five times!) but I was enchanted by such a vibrant world!

And this film is the root of it all. It is the only one of the films that I watched before reading the book. And rewatching it today after so many years was very disconcerting in several ways. First of all, in striking contrast to the Deathly Hallows, it is a very colourful and charming kids film. And while there are two types of fans: those who love the faithfulness of the first 2 films; and those who prefer the more stylized and character-driven films later on, I love The Philosopher's Stone for establishing such a vibrant culture which could so easily have been screwed up by the director Chris Columbus from the source material. It is also disconcerting because unfortunately I suffered the "seen it too many times it may have lost it's impact" syndrome. Me and my sisters went through many a summers day wearing out our VHS copy...

Most of the effects do not hold up. The Quidditch scene in particular, while obviously very good at the time, seems a bit too bright now, although that could be down to the significant tuning down of the darkness in later films. The Troll also looks a bit dodgy (well dodgier than back then!) but other than that it is a film that will definitely stand up in the years to come. It charmed me during my rewatch in the same way that The Princess Bride charmed me. And hopefully it will do the same for years to come.