Book V. Movie: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

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.

Name of Book: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

By: J. K. Rowling

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Copyright Date: US Edition June 1999 (This edition 4 Oct 2004)

Number of Pages: 256

Format: Hardback, Adult Edition

Reason for Reading: It’s Harry Potter, do we need a reason?

Rating: A


Name of Movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Director: Chris Columbus

Release Date:  November 15, 2002 (USA)

Running Time: 161 minutes

IMDB Linkage:

Rating: B

 THE BOOK: Though still largely considered a YA book, JK Rowling took a decidedly darker tone with Year Two of the Harry Potter series.  House Elves and Spiders and Basilisks, Oh My!  Dobby, a house elf, appears in Harry’s bedroom to warn him of shenanigans galore afoot at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Harry, as any respectful hero would do, completely ignores Dobby’s warning and hightails it to Hogwarts anyway.  Not long after his epic arrival (flying cars and whomping willows, indeed!) a muggle-born student is attacked, petrified by some unknown magic, and whispers and rumors about the monster housed in the mythic Chamber of Secrets spread amongst the student body like wildfire. In this installment, JK Rowling handily introduces multiple new magical creatures and characters (including the unctuous and self-absorbed Gilderoy Lockhart), expands on the mythology of the founders of Hogwarts, and sets up an enduring allegory about tolerance and race relations which will resonate throughout the remainder of the series.  The Chamber of Secrets doesn’t entirely leave behind the whimsy of Book One (none of the books are lacking in whimsy!), but it becomes clear that child Harry is fighting very grown-up war. 

THE MOVIE: Christopher Columbus directed this second outing with much the same slavish devotion as he did the first.  It seems disingenuous to claim that as a fault, when one of the primary complaints book-lovers have about movie adaptations in general is Hollywood’s tendency to stray from the author’s vision.  The problem inherent here is that the sense of terror, the urgency which is so palpable in the book is almost entirely missing in the movie.  For example, Ron’s fear of spiders is played up as more of a joke, while the book depiction of the same scene has a creeping menace that brings an entirely different nuance to the scene.  It just seemed simplistic, especially when compared to risks taken by later directors.  Christopher Columbus is a fantastic director and a great choice for the first movie, but the second might have been better served with a director with different sensibilities and more finesse.

The acting, however, was spot-on, particularly by the adult actors.  Kenneth Branaugh’s depiction of Gilderoy was quite amusing and Richard Harris’s final performance as Dumbledore was genuinely moving.  The core cast was still a bit too young and inexperienced, but it was clear that Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint had terrific natural talent and room to grow.

 THE VERDICT: No contest.  The book.  By like a million points.

About izzybella

Just trying to figure it all out.
This entry was posted in Bookish Thoughts, Fiction, Posts by Izzy, YA and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Book V. Movie: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

  1. kaye says:

    great book/movie comparison. *sigh* I miss Richard Harris–he was the perfect Dumbledore.

    • izzybella says:

      Wasn’t he, Kaye?! I loved him so much-he was just perfect. Exactly how I envisioned Dumbledore when I read. Faith is taking on the review for the third year and Jehara will have the installment after that. I’m interested in their takes for sure!

  2. Margot says:

    Is there going to be any one of the movies that will beat out a book? I’m just wondering. I’ll stayed tuned for the results. Good review, by the way.

    • jehara says:

      highly doubtful, margot. highly doubtful. 😉

    • izzybella says:

      What Jehara said. At least when it comes to Harry Potter, JK Rowling is such an imaginative and brilliant writer. But the later movies (IMO, obvs) get better and better.

      Mostly books will always win over movies, but I have to say in my movie going career there have been a few exceptions. Maybe I’ll review them sometime here just to be fair!! 🙂

      • jehara says:

        I was completely reading Margot’s comment from the Harry Potter perspective, haha. There do exist movies in my opinion that rate higher than the book. Not that many, but they do exist.

  3. jehara says:

    I am so digging this series.

    P.S. I ❤ that you used the british cover. 🙂

  4. Heather says:

    The HP books will always be better than the movies! Great review and comparison.

  5. Penny says:

    HUGE hp fan. I even have an HP tattoo on my wrist.
    I try to read them all at least once a year. Can’t wait for the last film! This little reminder got me excited about reading them again!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s