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Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone (2001)

by on 2012/01/05

“The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with caution.”

* * * *

At parties – when I used to go to them – I tended to be the one off in the corner, reading something alienating and obscure, and planning my escape.

Mostly, I avoid crowds – both real and virtual – whenever possible. In the same way, I deeply mistrust pop culture fads.

When the Harry Potter craze hit, I avoided the entire thing like a patch of writhing Devil’s Snare for months, feeling an outsider’s disdain for every breathless colleague who told me that I absolutely had to – had to – read the books.”


Finally in 2003, I relented and picked up the first in the series. I purchased it sheepishly at a mall book store, and hid it carefully in a plastic bag like I had just purchased some malt liquor and porno.

I devoured that first book in secret with the panting appetite of Fluffy the three-headed dog. Thinking the excitement I felt was simply the result of low blood sugar, I refused to buy the other books until I finally couldn’t take it anymore. White-lipped and twitchy, I bought as many books as I could lay hands on, kept on buying them, and haven’t looked back since.

As I once again contemplate this Chris Columbus film, I still believe this is a one of the rare times that a movie surpassed what I imagined while reading the book.

The addict in me appreciated the attention to detail that went into to the making of this film. It was all there, better and more detailed than my mind’s eye: Norbert’s dragon egg, the brown of Argus Filch’s big British teeth, the golden shimmer of the snitch, the soaring gloriousness of the Quidditch match, the red fog of the Rememberall, the tapestried grandeur of the Gryffindor common room, the violence of Wizard’s Chess.

There’s the terror of seeing Voldemort and his rasping delivery of the lines, “You see what I’ve become? See what I must do to survive? Live off another, a mere parasite.”

Sure, sure some of the effects had that CGI plastic sheen but nothing has ever diminished my love this first in the series.

It also had Alan Rickman as Severus Snape. He’s a walking, talking Edward Gorey drawing come to life. I do adore him so.

Mostly, I think I like Harry Potter so much because it made me believe not just in magic (briefly) but the hope that children could be brave, resourceful, compassionate and kind to one another.

I love the idea of Harry Potter.

“There are more important things, like friendship and bravery.”

Bloody brilliant.

* * * *

152 minutes

Rated PG for some scary moments including Troll mucus, earwax jelly beans and Robbie Coltrane’s beard

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