Feat. The Original Score by John Williams
“First years, this way please.”
Hello, and welcome to EFC’s: A Harry Halloween. In the previous post I told you the story of how a young, penniless single-mother overcame the odds to craft one of the most popular book series of all time. Each of J.K. Rowling’s 7 novels were subsequently adapted into movies. The first of which, Philosopher’s Stone, hit theaters in November, 2001. That movie is the subject of this present post. Stick around for the Sorting Hat Ceremony at the end to learn your house.
Philosopher’s Stone is my dad, Eric’s favorite Harry Potter film. That is worth mentioning because, objectively speaking, nobody has better taste in movies than my pops. He knows the classics when he sees them. And, if we are talking about which HP film is the purest ambassador of this series, you might be looking at it.
Orphaned at birth, 10 year-old, Harry now lives with his cruel Aunt and Uncle, The Dursleys, and their boorish son, Dudley.
Like Cinderella to her stepsisters, Harry thanklessly waits on his foster family, serving them meals, and cleaning the house. He sleeps in a broom cupboard underneath the staircase so that his cousin, Dudley, can have a second bedroom.
It’s a dull life. However, better fortune awaits this good-natured, unassuming little boy.
On the stroke of midnight on his 11th birthday, a giant man named Hagrid crashes like the Kool-aid man through the front door to rescue Harry from his evil foster family, and to show the little tiger his true stripes.
“You’re a wizard, Harry” he says, as Harry stares at him bewildered.
“I’m a what?”
Hagrid informs Harry that he has been accepted to the prestigious, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, where his Mother and Father attended. The start of term is just days away!
In addition to being the first, and the most faithful to its respective source material, Philosopher’s Stone is also the most joyous film in the Harry Potter series.
Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire, The Goonies (Writer)) follows one cardinal rule: “magic” is that which makes a person smile, and fills the heart with love until it is overflowing. The director allots ample screen time toward celebration of the holidays, and time spent with friends, both inside, and outside of the classroom.
In between learning to caste spells, and riding brooms for the first time, Harry and his new friends, Ron and Hermione explore the castle after hours, play Wizard’s chess, and Quidditch, and attend a colorful Halloween feast in the great hall. Harry and Ron even open gifts together by the fire of their dormitory common room on a whiteout Christmas morning.
For me, the most magical element of Philosopher’s Stone, however, is the symphonic musical score, composed by none other than the legendary, John Williams. There is so much feeling in every bar. The chimes inspire wonder, and the strings, hope. The horns triumph, and the woodwinds flutter like the butterflies in the first years’ stomachs as they meet their classmates for the very first time.
Listen below as Harry & his friends arrive at Hogwarts.
I like how, about half-way through the boat ride, the sounds of hope triumph over the initial foreboding sounds of apprehension. I find this music so befitting the house of Gryffindor, who’s members never shy away from a challenge.
Once the first years arrive at the castle, each must be sorted into one of the four Hogwarts Houses – factions of Hogwarts students with similar personality traits, goals, and values.
Here are the four houses: Which is your house? You can look at the qualities of each house to decide for yourself, or you can take the official Pottermore sorting hat test Here.
Thanks for reading! The next stop on this Harry Potter Halloween journey is just around the bend: The Phenomenon of The Defense Against The Dark Arts Teaching Position.
Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone
Release Date: November 16th, 2001
Director: Chris Columbus (Mrs. Doubtfire, Home Alone, Adventures in Babysitting)
Writer: Steve Kloves
Music: John Williams
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Tom Felton, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Ian Heart, John Cleese, Julie Walters, and John Hurt.
The Inside Out: Joy (36), Sadness (26), Fear (14), Disgust (6), Anger (3)