As the second (and the last) part of the 7th movie is making history, I have finally finished with my book/movie marathon. It is logical that I’m gonna do reviews on Harry Potter movies although I find it hard to be objective. If you have grown up with Potter and if you have read the books – you simply enjoy the movies for what they are. So this is more of an overview of the first three Harry Potter movies.
The magic begun in 2001 (4 years after the first book was published) – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (America has it called Sorcerer’s Stone but I’m sticking with philosophers all the way) marked the beginning for this saga that is to its core filled with brilliant English actors (something that J.K Rowling insisted). Not only did this movie bring the magic on to the big screen, it also showed us young talent that, like us, got the chance to grow up with Harry Potter: starting with Daniel Radcliffe as Harry, Emma Watson as Hermione and Rupert Grint as Ron. Trying not to make this a post about actors, I’ll keep the rest of the actor list minimal – Tom Felton (Draco), Matthew Lewis (Neville), Oliver and James Phelps (George and Fred), Bonnie Wright (Ginny) along side with Maggie Smith (McGonagall), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Julie Walters (Molly Weasly), and Richard Harris ( “first” Dumbledore).
The first movie was rather by the book as far as I’m concerned. Of course the challenge wasn’t about fitting the book into 2 and a half hours – it was more about finding the right cast which in a long run was almost perfect. The special effects are rather funny though but what do you expect – it was 10 years ago! Philosopher’s Stone is that sweet children’s movie, I say children’s because that’s what it is. Later on it changes, from year to year, from book to book, from movie to movie – as the characters grow, as “we” grow, the story evolves into something much more serious and that is something I keep in mind when I watch the first movies. Besides, for those who have read the books, the first movie supports it and after a while you start to see those same faces as the characters when you read the book. I think Philosopher’s Stone embodies that – how a movie can just collide with the books and in the end they just are together rather than just co-existing.
Two years later, in 2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came out and much like the first movie, this one kept things simple. The actors had grown a bit and it seemed that they were still putting emphasis on the details (which is good). All in all the second movie in my mind still marks the beginning. Due to the fact that they are so close to each other (with only 2 years between) the look of the movie is still pretty funny but improved (I’m saying this as a comment to the fact that things have changed in special-effects during10 years not about the movie itself). The casting choices still prove that the actors are (not able to find a better way to say this) the characters – now after 10 years it is probably very difficult to see them in other roles (but we’ll see).
In my mind the first and the second are very similar, not much differences visually and it’s not a bad thing – but what these 2 movies have done (for me at least), is make the characters come more alive and they kind of are the perfect foundation of the saga as the story continues into the third movie.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came out in 2004 and this for me was very important – the third book is my favorite and as far as I know – many others consider the third one the favorite as well. But let me say this, the third movie isn’t my favorite because I think the ones that came after this one managed to have a bigger appeal but still the third is definitely a step towards greatness.
Now as everything had taken a huge step forward – the actors, the special-effects and the story – things got serious. Two new characters were introduced: Gary Oldman as Sirius Black and David Thewlis as Remus Lupin. It also brought Michael Gambon to be the new Dumbledore since the first one had past away in 2002. As the visual outlook of the whole movie had evolved (as it started back then) everything seemed a bit more colorful. This was by far the best version of the book to the screen back then. I also think that the first three movies (and the 4th) were easier for the writer since the stories weren’t as huge as for instance the fifth one (which is actually the only Harry Potter movie Steven Kloves didn’t write the screenplay for). But it might also be that Steven Kloves was that good with the first three that it’s hard to comment on what finally made it into the movies because the story-lines were fulfilled to their max.
Short facts about the first three Harry Potter movies:
- With 7.7 score on IMDb The Prisoner of Azkaban is the best one (metascore gives it 82/100), The Philosopher’s Stone has 7,2 (64/100) and The Chamber of Secrets 7,1 (63/100).
- The third one has the second highest score of all 8 movies.
- All of the Harry Potter movies are in the list of 50 highest-grossing movies of all time – ironically the second best, the third, is the last out of the 8 – 32nd.
- The Chamber of Secrets is the longest of all the 8 Harry Potter movies – it runs for 161 minutes.
- The Philosopher’s Stone has the most Oscar nominations, which is 3 (not including the final part of the last movie).
- Although being the longest of all the movies, The Chamber of Secrets has the lowest budget of a 100 million dollars.
- John Williams (an award winning American composer) was behind the music of only the first three movies but his themes continued to be apart of the entire saga.
- All the three movies (and the forth) have different editors.
- In 2001 The Philosopher’s Stone was the highest-grossing movie of the year.
The second magic special on Harry Potter will be on its way soon after this one – stay tuned!