Sunday, 18 March 2018

A No-Maj Ponders Potter: The Philosopher's Stone

It was with mixed pride and disbelief that I discovered that my godson, almost 20, had never in his life seen a Harry Potter movie. As a big fan of Harry Potter since I was a kid (I even went to the movie studios in England), I was curious about his opinion about the first movie: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001). Like Mike Schubert (25), author of the Potterless podcast where he reads J.K. Rowling's books for the first time and tells us his theories and opinions, my godson also had a lot of thoughts, so here's a quick summary he made of the movie:

You need to be very cautious when deciding the future of a baby who has the potential to be the most powerful wizard in the world. In my opinion, the main concern would be to keep him from becoming the most spoiled and irritating child ever. I can perfectly picture little Harry casting a spell to make the soup disappear from his plate, controlling the weather to go play in the streets, or even to prevent his caretakers from roughing him up, locking himself inside a ball of energy, for example. In this regard, my opinion is that Gandalf (whom I later realised was called Dumbledore) made a good decision. Giving Harry to his uncles, who forced him to live in a cellar under the stairs as they channeled the whole caress to his son, proved to be not only a very clever decision but also a very lucky one since they were his only family. Still, I remained skeptical throughout the film. You never know when someone with such talent will not become a first-rate brag.

A bunch of birds starts spinning around Harry to give him some letters inviting him to a school of wizards. His uncle won't let him go because he needs someone to cook bacon for breakfast, understandably. They then decide to move houses and choose an abandoned shed without even worrying about hauntings or supernatural dangers. Consequently, on Harry's birthday, the shed is invaded by a bearded hairy giant (it's because of things as such that we should always consult our real estate agent)! This giant intends to take Harry Potter to Hogwarts but first they have to buy school supplies in London, where they visit the bank and Harry discovers that he's rich after all. He then buys a wand from a specific store and receives a special one that blows wind on his face and wooshes his hair. It's on the train to school that my suspicions are confirmed: Harry Potter is already a brag! He only needed to have his hands on some money and he's already buying an entire cart of candy to impress a colleague. He took a handful of coins from his pocket to pay and didn't even ask the price. Because of this, nothing gets out of my head that further on, Harry will fall into disgrace because of poor financial management.

When he arrives at Hogwarts, he is given a talking cap whose job is to divide the new students into four teams. These four teams will compete against each other in an exciting game of good behavior. The main character becomes popular in school because he was able to retrieve a silly boy's toy that had been thrown away by an annoying lad named Malfoy, denoting great dexterity flying on a broom. He is invited to the Quidditch team (a sport that I haven't completely understood the rules yet), where he will play as a Seeker, with the aim of catching a golden ball that moves very quickly. In his debut game he manages to catch the ball and gives the victory to his team, although he was a victim of spells on his broomstick. He later begins to investigate what's being protected by a three-headed dog and ends up realizing that it's actually the Philosopher's Stone. To explore the protected area and reach the stone you have to go through the three-headed dog, some herbs that kill hysterical children and you have to play chess on a giant board and risk your friends's lives.

Here are also some of his opinions about the characters that stood out to him the most in this first stage of the journey:

“Hagrid: He's a nice, hairy giant who walks into Potter's uncles' shed by breaking the door and then shoots fireworks through his umbrella and gives pig tails to fat kids. He has a job at Howgarts but I haven't understood it yet. He takes Potter to Diagon Alley but at the bank he drops down a few points in my consideration: firstly by risking pouring down the drain all the work done by Dumbledore so  Harry wouldn't be a brat when he shows him the inheritance his parents left him and then by getting himself in a slyish scheme where he seemed to be stealing a crumpled package from someone else's safe.
At one point, Hagrid is baking a dinosaur egg (which is then born and taken away) but is interrupted by Harry Potter and Company. He escorts Ron, Hermione, Harry and Malfoy with their punishment in the black forest but doesn't take very good care of them, allowing them to be attacked by a man with a cape just like Snape, drinking unicorn blood. Throughout the film, Hagrid is an accomplice of the three friends in their adventure to find out who is trying to steal the philosopher's stone.

Professor Snape: He's the Malfoy's good behavior team director and also the school's most sinister teacher as the first time he appears he causes Harry's scar to hurt and then asks him difficult questions during class just to make him look bad! In Harry's first Quidditch game he starts talking to himself, causing the broom to go uncontrolled but Hermione sets fire on his robe and the broom stabilizes. Throughout the movie we are led to think that Snape is bad, which I still believe even after the end of the movie, where it is perceived that the evil one is Quirrell. I am therefore expecting a turnaround in the next films where they proves that Snape is actually bad.

Professor Quirrell: Throughout the film I could not unravel the character of this teacher: first he refuses to shake hands with Harry Potter but then seems to be a nice teacher. In the end you realise he is the bad one! I still believe that Snape is the bad guy and that Professor Quirrell is just a victim in this story because his bald is possessed.

Voldemort: Kind of demon that only takes hold of people's balds. Bald people who don't ventilate their heads tend to develop Voldemort because of heat and humidity. Professor Quirrell, for always walking in a turban, caught Voldemort. When the possessed person dies, it turns into smoke and goes away. It is said that he was he who killed Harry Potter's parents and tried to kill Harry himself but couldn't do it (probably because he wasn't bald at the time).

Other characters: They didn't catch my attention as much as the ones mentioned above. Ron and Hermione are always doing what Harry tells them to do, and they are friends who are subjugated to Harry's fame and wealth so I'm convinced that they are driven to so many situations with incentives (particularly candy-filled carts). If they don't get some personality in the next movies, they are more likely to become bait for the bad guys while Harry escapes. I've seen lots of action movies and that's what happens to the main character's friends.
Professor Dumbledore runs the school and, excluding Harry Potter and his friends, he's my favourite character. He was the one who decided to give Harry to his uncles and didn't punish him during the entire movie, unlike the lady who turns into a cat (although being left with the Dursleys is more than enough punishment).

In conclusion, my godson told me that he really liked the movie despite not being a big fan of plot twists. Before watching the movie he thought that everything was happening in the middle ages so he was very surprised by how recent the film was and found it very nice to have funny parts.

It seems that he became a fan of the saga, so you can count on his next reviews here!

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