Movie Name: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone/Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
Studio: Heyday Films/1492 Pictures
Release Date(s): November 4, 2001 (London)/November 16, 2001 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) has always been treated poorly. His parents were killed when he was an infant and he was left with a scar on his forehead. Given to his Aunt Petunia (Fiona Shaw) and Uncle Veron (Richard Griffiths), he was treated as a second-class child to his cousin Dudley (Harry Melling). When Harry learns that he has been born to a magic family, he is whisked away to the school of Hogwarts by a half-giant named Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) and begins his study of magic. Under the watchful eye of headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Richard Harris), Harry finds himself making friends with Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and together they seek to unravel the mystery of something called the Sorcerer’s Stone. When Harry seems to be the target again, Harry, Hermione, and Ron question if their teacher Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) is the enemy.
Directed by Christopher Columbus, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was the first leap into the world created by J. K. Rowling in her novels. The original English title for the book was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and overseas this movie is referred to by that title. Widely acclaimed, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone became a big hit and permitted the sequels to be shot in such a way to keep all the actors involved. The film was nominated for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Score.
The movie had an easy go at being a hit. By the time it was released, the book series was on its fourth book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and people were begging for a movie. The makers of the movie knew that there already sequels planned so they had to cast young actors with the potential of growth. Even though they didn’t know the ending of the series, they knew the direction it was heading and had to plan for the future.
In that respect, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a success. The movie is cast perfectly with young actors who did progress throughout the series. I have to commend the casting agents for this film because all three leads in addition to other young actors like the perfectly evil Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) that continued to pop up through the course of the films. In addition to great child actors they were granted great seasoned actors with Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Richard Harris, and Warrick Davis in the teacher roles.
I think the book is one of the weaker books in the series and as a result a weaker movie. Later in the series more experimental directors were picked and richer movies came out as a result. Columbus makes the movie too rose and too friendly…Hogwarts looks like a set and has no real life. I would have liked a darker touch. He does improve in the second film that also benefits from not having to set up the whole series. This movie must not only tell the tale but introduce the whole world of Harry Potter…something that Christopher Columbus does in an average way.
*****Spoiler Alert***** Story-wise, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone always feels like a letdown at the end. The final confrontation with Quirrell (Ian Hart) is set up nicely (everyone gets to show their skills and knowledge to help Harry). The battle with Quirrell however and resolution is weak. It felt like the movie needed an actual throw-down and it just didn’t succeed in doing that.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is an entertaining movie but could have been a better movie with some more direction and tweaking. It does demonstrate a potential for great things in future films and great possibility for their actors. The movie became a huge moneymaker and the series developed into one of the most profitable series of all time so it deserves some credit just for that. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was followed by Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002.