It is hard to believe it has been nearly a decade since many family herded their kids into the car and headed down to the local cinemas to see this first installment of the Harry Potter movies. The main players, Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Gint), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson), and their first magical rival, Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) were all just pre-teens then, dealing with things they never dreamed of. Some were ready for the challenge, growing up with, or researching what was coming to them. Harry was the most un-prepared, yet the most powerful of them all. We saw glimpse of Harry’s miserable home life with the Dursleys. Vernon Dursley (Richard Griffiths), who is perpetually in denial about magic. His wife, Petunia (Fiona Shaw), who knows that it does exists, but would rather not deal with it, and supports Vernon fully. That leaves Dudley (Harry Melling), whom is a male version of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. A beefy brat that is so spoiled, that if he was a carton of milk the expiration date on him would have been 322 B.C.E.
When Harry first gets his Hogwart’s letter, he is mystified and delighted, because he never gets mail, and the Dursleys do everything to make sure he never gets the letter, including driving off to some stormy tiny island in what could be the North Sea, or possibly in the Jerseys, we never really find out which. It is here that Harry makes the acquaintance of a huge man, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), a half-giant he has not seen since he was rescued on that fateful night that put all the wheels in motion. Harry was The Boy Who Lived, and he survived the Killing Curse delivered by the Wizarding World’s darkest and most dangerous product to date, Lord Voldemort. Hagrid has a bit of fun teasing the Dursleys, and again, Harry is rescued from this awful fate, and brought to the one place he will really fit in, and that is where the real story begins.
We see the Hogwarts Academy of Wizardry and Witchcraft as J.K. Rowling had meant for us to see it, magical, mystical, and ancient. Chris Columbus could not have hit the nail on the head any better than when his vision of Hogwarts came to came to life with his own kind of movie magic. From the moment Harry meets with the Weasleys on Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross, we are give a real treat of a story, but there are lulls in it at times, but the exciting moments make up for it. We are introduced to the brutal game of Quidditch, the biggest game in the Wizarding World. We meet with the professors that would be changing the lives of the magical trio forever. Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Minerva McGonagall (Maggie Smith), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman), and friends that would have their back over the years from the house of Griffyndor. The hapless Neville Longbottom , the explosive Seamus Finnigan, and the Weasley Twins (James and Oliver Phelps) partner in crime, Lee Jordan (Luke Youngblood). This movie takes us through the trials not only do many of the first year students have to face at Hogwarts, but some even they would not encounter, since they are not the current protectors of The Sorcerer’s Stone, the legendary artifact known to give unnatural long life and change lead into gold.
There are so many characters that we meet in this first installment that are so rich in personality and involvement with everything that touches these stories, that it is difficult not to mention them all, and more along the way. There are many enemies and objects, that make Harry’s life a challenge every day, but he would rather deal with giant three-headed dogs, Wizard’s Chess, trolls, and malfunctioning broomsticks than be back in Surrey with the Dursleys. Many, many fans of the books and movies from around the globe would highly agree.
It has been nearly ten years, and Harry and his best friends have dealt with conflicts and enemies, and enemy supporters many of us could never imagine, and sometimes we need a a reminder of where it all began, with a letter, delivered by an owl, to a young boy at 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, England.
I give this film a Musing review of