Magical in both its subject and its execution on screen, Harry Potter’s first movie
adventure is a satisfying and entertaining exercise in having fun while learning
something. I suspect its English cultural roots account for its endearing earthiness and
lack of cuteness, while the immense resource of imagination banks of Chris Columbus, Steve
Kloves, John Seale and Stuart Craig account for its gothic-flavoured fantasy world. Not forgetting John Williams, whose score is big, lush and full of temperament, tension
The connection to the real world of today – via the splendid virtual
entrance to Platform 9 ¾ - creates a psychological anchor for the film that is
indispensable to its accessibility. The cast create their classic characters beautifully,
from the ageing Richard Harris as the head honcho at Hogwart’s, through his
side-kickess, Maggie Smith, to the three central wizz kids, Radcliffe, Watson and Grint.
Radcliffe is a godsend to the filmmakers; he is not only perfect visually, but the boy can
act without making it look too much like acting.
The big flying stunt scene is spectacular
and exciting in every respect, and the endless detail in the production design helps make
Hogwart’s a tangible place for the audience. (Maybe one day soon it will be,
considering the popularity of Harry Potter’s world.) It’s a world where wizardry
is an honourable profession and seems to exist for the purpose of doing justice and
fighting evil in this world. And sometimes to have fun doing it. How irresistible is that.
Andrew L. Urban
With breathtaking cinematic magic, Harry Potter opens our eyes to a sublime world of
fantastic fantasy. Whether you have read the book or not, this is a bewitching, marvellous
film for anyone of any age willing to open the doors of their imagination. The boundaries
between real life and the fantasy world are wonderfully created, and when the stones in
the wall shift, allowing Harry to enter, we experience every step of this enchanted world
with him. Like the world of Oz with its yellow brick road and munchkins, Harry Potter's
world becomes our reality: its majestic castle setting filled with forbidden floors and
secrets, staircases that change, paintings that come to life, mail messenger owls,
unicorns and unforgettable characters entice us far beyond our wildest dreams.
Columbus has created a mesmerising reality; a fine screenplay brings J.K. Rowling's book
to life, while John Seale's imaginative cinematography makes the film look simply
splendid. All the production is superb, from the detailed production design to the
sensitive editing. With its haunting themes and dazzling orchestrations, John Williams'
exciting, masterful score makes every sense in our body tingle with emotion.
Much has been
written about Columbus' skill working with children, and here he elicits terrific
performances. Daniel Radcliffe is perfect as Harry, conveying and transferring the wonder
to us, while the other youngsters also give naturalistic, compelling performances. The
cast's backbone is as solid as the castle walls, with stalwart, impeccably credentialled
thesps Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman and Robbie Coltraine all wonderful.
story's sentiments reinforce the importance of family and the line is clearly drawn
between good and evil: there's drama, mystery, suspense and humour and I must admit I did
shed a little tear. Harry Potter manages to avoid sloppy sentimentality, but weaves the
perfect balance, allowing us to not only enjoy this fabulous fantasy on a visual level,
but also on a satisfying emotional one. For my money, this use of special effects in
cinema is the ultimate - allowing technology to make our fantasies real.
imaginative and will make you feel fantastic. You can believe the hype – Harry Potter
is indeed a phenomenon.