With the final installment of the Harry Potter movie franchise coming out, we thought it would be fun to revisit the phenomenon with a special edition series of Harry Potter Book v Movie columns.
By: J. K. Rowling
Publisher: Scholastic Press by arrangement with Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.
Copyright Date: 1998
Number of Pages: 309
Format: YA Fiction
Reason for Reading: It’s Harry Potter, do we need a reason?
Director: Chris Columbus
Release Date: November 16, 2001 (USA)
Running Time: 152 minutes
IMDB Linkage: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0241527/
THE BOOK: It’s only right to add the following disclaimer: I am an unabashed and unapologetic fan of Harry Potter. I discovered Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in November of 1998 while unpacking a shipment from the bookstore where I worked. It looked intriguing and since we were allowed to check out hardcover books I just set it aside to take with me at the end of my shift. When I got home, I started a load of laundry and then sat down with a coke, a slice of BBQ pizza and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I was immediately drawn into Harry’s world-the pizza went cold and the soda went flat, but I didn’t care. There was Hogwarts to learn about, mysteries to solve, life-long friendships to make, and a dark wizard to defeat. Besides, between you and me, cold pizza is proof God exists. I read the book in one sitting flat and the moment I hit the last page, I turned back to the beginning and started over again. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet and in my heart I knew Harry’s adventures were only beginning. J. K. Rowling’s debut novel was fantastic, charming, well-plotted/paced, and pure delight from beginning to end. The only thing I enjoyed more than reading it that first time was discovering that Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets would very shortly be enjoying its US release. Excellent. More Harry.
THE MOVIE: So yes, I was one of the hundreds of thousands of idiots enthusiastic fans who stormed the theatres at midnight of the release date to view the first movie. I went with the incomparable chauceriangirl, and I kid you not, we held hands and squee’d like little girls as Richard Harris’s Dumbledore made his way down Privet Drive, using his put-outter to make short work of the street lights. More handholding and squeeing ensued as we caught our first glimpse of McGonnakitty, to Hagrid, to Platform 9 ¾, to the Hogwarts Express, etc. et al, I could go on and on. It was magical seeing all of the sights I’d already envisioned and gratifying how much it resembled what I was seeing on film. Christopher Columbus, both to his credit and downfall, was slavishly devoted to the source material. The end result was a faithful, visually stunning adaptation that in translation lost a bit of the magic from J. K. Rowling’s story.
THE VERDICT: The movie put up an excellent fight, but was KO’d in the third round by the sheer magic and wonder of the book.