'Harry Potter' film adaptation lacks magic of novel
The film adaptation of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" hit theatres across the country last Friday, even one in Lebanon. Rowling's series of novels is wildly popular among ten-year-olds, but widely read among college students and adults as well. Those familiar with the books largely agree that they are incredible. But can an incredible book give rise to an incredible movie?
The story begins on a dark night outside of a muggle house -- muggles are, of course, non-magic folks. Professors Dumbledore and McGonagall (Richard Harris and Maggie Smith respectively) discuss the future of just orphaned Harry Potter, son of a wizard and witch. They agree to leave Harry with his muggle uncle and muggle aunt, who live in the muggle house they are outside of. Then Harry arrives with Rubeus Hagrid via flying motorcycle. Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane) is a very big and hairy half-giant with a heart the size of his large fist. He carries around a pink umbrella too. After Hagrid gets a little teary-eyed, Dumbledore sets Harry on the doorstep in a little bundle and leaves.
Ten years later, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) is living in a cupboard under the stairs with his aunt, uncle and cousin, the Dursleys. Chortling, fat and neckless Uncle Vernon (Richard Griffiths) is particuarly entertaining; we don't get to observe life with the Dursleys for too long, though, because owls start arriving with Harry's acceptance letters to Hogwarts, the world's premier school of wizardry and witchcraft -- Harry has no idea of the institution because he's lived with muggles all his life.
The next sequence takes Harry to Diagon Alley, the hidden wizarding mecca of London, where he finds his size two cauldron, wand, books and potion ingredients. The film's special-effects wizardry begins to shine during Harry's visit to Gringotts bank, a sprawling high-security structure run by goblins.
The movie takes off when Harry finally gets to Hogwarts. That's when Harry really gets his feet wet in all of this "magic" business and makes his friends. Red-haired Ron Weasely (Rupert Grint) and precocious Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) steal the show as Harry's partners in crime. Watson, in her first appearance on the silver screen, is especially charming. For the rest of the movie, these three wander the halls at night, fight trolls, help unicorns, hatch dragons, learn magic and uncover a plot to restore an evil wizard to power.
And then, of course, there's quidditch! Harry plays on his house quidditch team, a wizarding sport played in the air on broomsticks. The quidditch match is by far the most impressive part of the movie.
So did the book translate well to the big screen?
Fans of the book will notice a lack of development on some threads of the storyline, while newcomers to the world of Harry Potter will notice many interesting characters and elements that seem to disappear later in the movie. If you just throw the book out the window, though (something that no one would ever do), the movie is fun and entertaining with beautiful sets and scenery that show a meticulous concern for detail.
Although everyone has his or her own thoughts on how well the book-to-movie transition was made, everyone can agree that Hagrid is hairy, quidditch is crazy and Hermione is haughty.
Do yourself a favor and read the book.