Wednesday, November 24, 2021


“You’re a wizard, Harry…”


This month marks the 20th anniversary of HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. 


Directed by Chris Columbus and based on the 1997 novel by J.K. Rowling, SORCERER’S STONE (re-titled PHILOSPHER’S STONE in certain regions), was the first film in the now beloved HARRY POTTER franchise, and follows 11-year-old Harry Potter as he begins his wizarding education and discovers that he is actually famous in the wizarding world. 


The road to Hogwarts, Harry’s place of formal magical education, began in 1997 when producer David Heyman, in his search for adapting a children’s book to the screen, bought the rights to the first four novels written by J.K. Rowling for a reported $1 million. Steven Spielberg was considered to direct, along with Terry Gilliam (12 MONKEYS), Jonathan Demme (SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), Rob Reiner (A FEW GOOD MEN), and Ivan Reitman (GHOSTBUSTERS). The job would eventually go to Chris Columbus, whose directing credits at the time included the hits HOME ALONE (1990), and MRS. DOUBTFIRE (1993). 


At the insistence of Rowling, the cast was to be kept British. Daniel Radcliffe was the chosen for Harry, and he was joined by Emma Watson and Rupert Grint as his best friends and classmates. The adult cast was an assembly of veteran actors Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Julie Walters, Robbie Coltrane, Warwick Davis, Fiona Shaw, John Cleese, and the late John Hurt and Alan Rickman. Filming began in September 2000 at Leavesden Studios and in historic locations around the UK, and would wrap in March of 2001. John Williams would provide the score. 


On release, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE would be a critical and commercial success. It would finish as the highest grossing film of 2001, and at the time, the second-highest earner of all time. It would be nominated for four Oscars, and would be followed-up by seven sequels, and two spin-offs. 




As the first film in a franchise that would need to cover seven thick books, SORCERER’S STONE had its work cut out for it in building a world that feels real and yet is full of magic. Columbus, along with screenwriter Steve Kloves, captured the essence of the book and the child-like wonder of discovery. We explore and discover this magical world through Harry’s eyes, and even after 20 years…it can still make us feel like a kid; from meeting new friends, the jitters of a new school, right down to dealing with bullies. The film is rich and colorful, fun, funny, and yet still carries hints of the danger that magic can carry…and the danger that is peeking out down the road. And John Williams’ score is pure enchantment. As an early successful franchise-starter it would pave the way for future blockbusters with long-term goals. This Blogger was late getting on board the HARRY POTTER train (didn’t catch up until 2005), but fully encourages all budding wizards and witches to re-visit and re-discover that world…and maybe learn a little something about magic. 


“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but a great deal more to stand up to your friends.”

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