Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Movie Review


Diya Karakala

Based on the popular series written by J.K Rowling, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is the first movie out of eight. The first book was released in 1997 and four years later, in 2001, the movie was released. In America, the title of the book was changed to “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in an attempt to catch the eye of American consumers. The movie kept the title change and in the United States, it is also known as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”. The movie takes place in Great Britain, specifically Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, one of the schools in the series where students go to learn magic. The main character is, of course, Harry Potter (played by Daniel Radcliffe). When Harry was young, Voldemort (Richard Bremmer), a dark wizard, killed his parents and he attempted to do the same thing to Harry. However, he failed and Harry was left with a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt. Voldemort became powerless and vanished. From that point Harry began to be known as “the boy who lived”. Since his parents death, he has been staying with his aunt, uncle, and his spoiled cousin, Dudley Dursley (Harry Melling). 

The movie starts with a scene between Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Professor McGonagall (Maggie Smith), and Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) looking over a young Harry, discussing his future before they leave him with his aunt and uncle. Things start to kick off when Harry meets Hagrid for the first time. Hagrid says the famous line, “You’re a wizard Harry” and Harry is introduced to a world of magic. Throughout the movie, Harry becomes friends with Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint). Harry learns more about his past and his place in the wizarding world while solving mysteries with Ron and Hermione. While Harry makes new friends, he also makes some enemies. One of them is Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton), a pure-blood first year. In addition, as soon as Harry sees his Potions teacher, Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), it is clear that their relationship is not going to be a good one.

Throughout the movie, the directors, producers, and writers stay close to the plot and characters of the book, keeping many things the same. However, a few events and characters are cut from the movie. For example, Peeves the Poltergeist and the Sorting Hat Song. In the book, the Sorting Hat sings a song before sorting the first years into the four houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin. Due to time restrictions, the song was taken out from the movie. Instead, in the movie, it skips to the scene where the Sorting Hat reads Harry’s inner thoughts and decides to put him into Gryffindor (the house associated with bravery and courage).

Small features such as adding a scene of Ron and Harry playing wizard’s chess (foreshadowing events at the end) to the special effects added to Quidditch make the movie more interesting and pleasing to the eye. Not all special effects looked the best at the time (19 years ago), the most obvious example being the scene with the troll in the bathroom. While it is an important scene (the event that causes them to become closer to each other) and it would be nice to have seen the troll look more realistic, it is still fun to see that scene show up on screen and watch the actors expressions and movements. It is also incredibly amusing to see the troll fall after Ron spelled his club. Overall, the effects are pretty well done and you can feel the magic around as you watch.

During the movie, Harry, Ron, and Hermione become curious about what Fluffy, the three headed dog is guarding. After searching for answers and Hagrid accidentally spilling secrets multiple times, the three of them figure out that Fluffy is guarding the Philosopher’s Stone, an object that could create a potion of immortality. They believe that Snape will steal the stone and give it to Voldemort so he can restore himself. The three of them rush to get it before Snape. But before they can reach the stone, they have to go through many obstacles created by multiple professors. Eventually, Ron and Hermione stay behind while Harry goes on to grab the stone. Harry learns that Professor Quirrell (Ian Hart), his Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, was actually the one who was working for Voldemor, not Snape.. He tries to get Harry to give him the stone using the Mirror of Erised, a mirror that shows the viewer their deepest desire. Harry wishes to find the stone before Quirrell and the stone ends up in his pocket. It is revealed to the audience that Voldemort has been attached to the back of Quirrell’s head the whole time. Voldemort tries to persuade Harry to hand him the stone, telling him he can bring back Harry’s parents. Harry refuses and Harry and Quirrell fight. But, everytime Harry touches Quirrell, Quirrell’s skin burns. (The audience later learns this is because his mother’s love left an invisible mark on Harry.) Professor Quirrell dies and Voldemort vanishes once again, no longer attached to Quirrell. Everything turns right as the stone is given to Professor Dumbledore, the headmaster.

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It was amazing to see a book I had loved as a child turned into a breathtaking movie. The viewer is transported to the magical world and walks alongside the characters through their journey. I liked how they portrayed Hermione and brought some of her hilarious moments and iconic lines to life (“It’s Leviosa not Leviosa”). One major thing that could have improved the movie is including the scene with the obstacle Snape created, the potion puzzle. Adding that scene would have developed Hermione’s character more. It would have proven that not only is she good at memorization, she is also clever and quick on her feet. In addition, it would have helped show the relationship between Harry and Hermione and their growth since the beginning of the book. Despite that, the movie itself was well paced and the soundtrack was beautiful. “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” is a movie that is definitely worth watching (or rewatching).