The first book of the phenomenal franchise hit the shelves in 1997. However the successful first movie adaption didn’t hit theaters until November 2001, where it became the highest grossing film of the year.
JK Rowling has mentioned in a number of interviews over the years that she was nervous about even talking to film people, let alone allowing them to make her book into a movie. Obviously there are glaring differences between the book and the films however I am an equal fan of both. I understand that parts have to be cut, scenes have to be adapted and sub plots left out, because otherwise we will all be sat round watching a 6 hour movie, something true Potter Heads would love but I am sure would not appeal to the masses.
Of course I can’t discuss the first movie without mentioning the very first scene where we see the beloved Golden Trio together for the first time. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Played by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson respectively) grace our screens together for the first time aboard the Hogwarts Express. We see Hermione, taking charge demanding the boys change into their robes, Ron attempt to impress Hermione for the first time, and Harry observing quietly and almost shyly introducing himself. I feel this is a true representation of their characters and these are attributes they carry through the entire series. In this scene, we also see a more in depth portrayal of the three of them, Hermione Granger is already in her school robes, looking extremely neat and tidy, Ron Weasley is in rugged clothes, has an un-tucked shirt and has dirt on his nose (that Hermione gladly points out to him.) Harry Potter has his infamous scar on show, messy “James” like hair, and Dudley’s hand me down muggle clothes on. This not only shows the audience a glimpse of the main three personalities and later their attitudes towards school, but it also shows the audience a little into their backgrounds. For example, The Weasley’s are infamous for not being very well off, with their many offspring sharing school supplies and robes. This also reiterates Harry’s tragic situation of being an orphan, and living with muggles who despise him. We aren’t offered a lot of information about Hermione’s family, but later in the series learn that they are dentists. This can be a fairly well paid middle class job within the muggle world and with her being an only child, there is the expectation that she probably is no where near as poor as Ron. I love this scene because, if you are watching for the first time, it doesn’t hold much significance compared to others within the film, yet after watching and reading the entire franchise, the nostalgic feeling of re-watching 11 year old Harry, Ron and Hermione never gets old.
I also do have a soft spot for the Troll in the Bathroom scene. This highlights one of Harry’s first heroic moments of the series. Harry is the first hero in this scene, he notices that Hermione is not aware of the invading troll and convinces Ron to help find her. Upon entering the bathroom, he immediately tries to help Hermione, then charges at the troll himself. Ron on the other hand takes some coaxing to get involved, whether this be through lack of knowledge or whether he is just in shock with what is going on, he doesn’t lack the Gryffindor courage when he is the only one left able to help. “What are Friends For” As Ron says to Hermione when they head back to the Gryffindor common room, granted he did insult her earlier that day leading to her being in said bathroom at that time, but him and Harry did just save her from a troll. This is one of the few moments within the franchise, that we see Granger portray a ‘damsel in distress.’ Yet, within this situation, she still manages to be the brains of the trio by guiding Ron before he attempts his charm “Wingardium Leviosa”. This is something only hours before he was not impressed by and she then goes on to cover for the boys by lying to the teachers and not letting Harry or Ron get into trouble. I really like this scene, because it signifies to me that these three will now do anything for each other and really are great friends. It also is one of many moments throughout the franchise, where they end up in a ridiculous situation, and barely staying out of trouble.
Another favourite scene of mine, is Christmas morning at Hogwarts, this is where Harry receives proper Christmas presents for the first time. It is no shock that we learn within the pages of the first book and the first scenes in the film, that the Dursley’s do not treat Harry as their own. In the book he receives a 50 pence piece from them for Christmas and in the film there is no mention of the Dursley’s sending him letters or parcels, let alone christmas gifts. However on this occasion, Harry gains an invisibility cloak, and a “Weasley” jumper knitted by Molly. Although Ron doesn’t seem keen on his new attire, Harry quite clearly loves it as it doesn’t just represent a gift, but it is a sign that somebody truly cares for him and regard him a part of their family. This is a classic Weasley trait as they don’t have much to begin with, yet they still reach out to Harry in this kind way and all continue to do so throughout the rest of the series. Another reason I love the Christmas scenes is because of how extra magical it all appears. Of course, all of us Potter heads would love to go to Hogwarts no matter the time of year but seeing it at Christmas gives it even more sparkle for me and really makes it one of the most magical times of the year.
My final favourite moment within the first film, is the chess scene. This is such an important scene for me because it really is the start of my admiration for the golden trio. They each play their part so well, and after seeing Hermione use her knowledge to save them from Devil’s Snare, and Harry using his broomstick skills to grab the key, this really is Ron’s time to shine. He then goes on to willingly sacrifice himself in order for them to win the game. A courageous act which is a typical Gryffindor trait. This was always an important chapter and scene for me, because it really made me realise that together they can do anything, they all need each other’s talents and strengths in order to fight the unknown. Something they do over and over again until the final battle.
Overall, I love watching the first film and reading the first book over and over again, it re-opens the door to the magical world, and welcomes us Potter Heads home to Hogwarts time and time again. Please let me know your favourite moments from the first book or film in the comments below!
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends” – Albus Dumbledore