5 Reasons Why The Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone Is The Best Harry Potter Movie
20 years after the premiere of Harry Potter, here’s a look back at why Harry’s first year at Hogwarts and the introduction to the magical world is the best movie of the series.
The Harry Potter movies have long since entrenched themselves in the book adaptation zeitgeist of the twenty-first century. One of the most popular book and film series ever made, this eight-part story has reached audiences young and old since the premiere of The Philosopher’s Stone in 2001.
Over the years, the franchise experienced a few changes to cast and crew members, directors, and the number of changes made from the books. The first film set the stage for the rest of the series and did a solid job of establishing the feel and tone for future movies.
Directed by Christopher Colombus, the first film introduces viewers to the world young Harry lives in: Privet Drive, the Dursleys, the mysterious Hagrid, and then Hogwarts. Here are five reasons why The Philsopher’s Stone is the best Harry Potter movie.
5. Exploring Hogwarts
The most awe-inspiring and wonder-inducing moments of the film are definitely those that take place in Hogwarts. From the first glimpse Harry (and the audience) gets of the magical school, everyone is awestruck. As the little boats filled with (mostly) innocent First Years make their way across the Black Lake, we see the glittering lights of the castle on the picturesque grounds.
The air of mystery surrounding the school’s introduction is part of the reason we are so intrigued by Hogwarts. A large part of this is, of course, the enigma of Albus Dumbledore. This is also the movie that introduces viewers to the format of Hogwarts classes, which any Muggle would prefer over traditional school.
For instance, the scene where Harry and Ron are late to Transfiguration also serves as an introduction to McGonagall, who Ron calls “bloody brilliant”. Later, we see the ill-fated Flying lesson that also leads to Harry earning a spot on the Quidditch team. And finally, we finally see how much of Hogwarts is kept hidden when Harry and his friends attend detention in the Forest, visit Hagrid’s hut, find the Restricted Section of the library, the thirteenth-floor corridor, Fluffy, and the Mirror of Erised.
4. The Wonder Of Magic
As Harry discovers the world of magic, so does the audience. With glorious visual effects and a soaring soundtrack, the movie does a stellar job of making us feel like we’re in Diagon Alley or Hogwarts along with Harry.
Even when Hagrid makes Dudley sprout a pig’s tail, we are awed and waiting for more. Diagon Alley is a neat introduction to the wonders of magic, with enchanted objects, magic animals, exotic foods, and piles of money in Gringotts — which, for Harry, is its own form of magic.
Nothing beats Hogwarts, of course, where we find a Sorting Hat, an endless feast at every meal, moving staircases, singing paintings, a troll, unicorns, centaurs, Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, and Seamus Finnegan’s appalling attempts at spellcasting.
3. Lower Stakes
Since this is the first installment in the series and the characters are only eleven years old, the stakes are relatively low. Harry has only just discovered this new world of magic and the truth about his parents’ deaths. At the beginning of the film, his biggest challenge is fitting in with his peers.
He finds a friend in Ron, and later they learn to accept and love Hermione for who she is. Draco Malfoy is one of the biggest threats to the trio until they learn about the Philosopher’s Stone and that Voldemort is still out there. But Voldemort is weak and can’t really harm Harry, who also has the protection of his mother’s love, Hogwarts, and Dumbledore to keep him safe.
The lower stakes allow the characters to learn more about the magical world, navigate their new lifestyles, form key friendships, and figure out who to trust. As a result, these characters are easy for the audience to empathize with.
2. More Suitable For A Broader Audience
With younger characters come less mature themes. The first three films all have a rating of PG, which means they’re suitable for young viewers. As the films become darker and more violent, the ratings go up, too.
The Philosopher’s Stone was a movie that kids watched with their parents, many of whom had read the books. I remember being introduced to the story by my mother, who had read the books years before.
- Lighter Mood
Because the characters are younger and the stakes are lower, the movie has a lot more room for humor. This humor is suitable for its young audience and finds ways to creep into even the “darkest” scenes. For instance, one of the most iconic moments of the entire series is when the trio stumbles upon Fluffy guarding the trapdoor.
All three of them look up, pause, and scream in unison before tearing out of there. In the Gryffindor common room, Hermione tells the boys that she’s “going to bed before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us all killed. Or worse, expelled!” As she stalks away, Ron mutters, “She needs to sort out her priorities.”
This lighter mood entices viewers to keep watching and makes this world inviting and welcoming, even though it’s actually teeming with darkness, threats, horror, and danger.
[Originally shared via Vocal Media]