My main thought about the book and movie: they make me feel so nostalgic. Even though I've acquired a hardcover of this first book since I last reread the series, I decided to read my old paperback copy instead of the hardcover one. And I'm so glad I did. That little paperback with the yellowing pages and barely visible dog-ear folds (yes, I dog-eared my pages back then, but I would never do that now!)...it smells like my childhood. :)
I have so many memories connected to this series. I definitely grew up with Harry Potter...I read the first book when I was 8 or 9, and I was 16 when the last book came out.
Okay, on to the actual book. While it's not my favorite of the series, I still love it. There's a lot of world-building going on, and it makes me appreciate the magical world that J.K. Rowling created. Everything fits together so beautifully...and for me, personally, it's an easier world to slip into than say, the world of the Lord of the Rings. Maybe it's just because J.R.R. Tolkien was so obsessive with details, or maybe it's because the world of Harry Potter is still set in a real-life place and time.
I loved meeting all of the characters again, especially the Weasleys. Of course, there are many details in the books that get left out of the films, and it's so nice having that extra information and backstory. I love Rowling's writing style. I had forgotten how lovely and subtle the humor is. But most importantly, she doesn't dumb things down for children like so many writers tend to do. The Harry Potter books don't feel like "children's" books to me...they just have this timeless quality that appeals to all ages.
I loved rereading these lines that are so familiar to me. I would get to a part and be reminded of a specific line that was ingrained in my memory, and I would think, I wonder if that line is in this book or a later one? And then a few sentences later, there it would be. :)
While reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone this time, I wasn't very focused on the plot about the stone and Fluffy and the suspicions about Snape. I was as a kid, and I know I'll probably be more invested in the main plot lines in the later books. (I will say that I definitely noticed some foreshadowing and little things that proved significant in later books.) But this time, with this book, I was just soaking in the familiar, cozy feeling of the story. The way that she describes the cushy arm chairs by the fire in the common room, and the food they eat at feasts, and the handknit sweaters from Mrs. Weasley. It feels so wonderfully homey and comfortable and English. :) Also, it made me so anxious for fall and winter, even more so than I already was.
I watched the film adaptation the evening after I finished reading the book. It made me think of the first time I ever saw the movie. Back in 2001 when it was released, my brother and I won tickets to go see it in theaters. A local radio station was giving away four tickets and a HP prize pack...all you had to do was call in and answer the question that they asked. I knew the answer but was too chicken to call in, and my younger brother didn't know the answer but was willing to call the station (the question was so simple...what was the name of Harry Potter's school?). Somehow he managed to get the line and we won! :) I was the only one in my family who ever read the books (though I tried to get my brother to...I remember giving him a quiz about it, which is probably what scared him away from reading them, ha), but we always went to see the films at the theater after that.
I jotted down some random thoughts while watching the movie, so here goes...
Dudley is the most obnoxious child ever! He's bad enough in the books, but somehow seeing it onscreen makes him even more horrible.
Speaking of children, Harry, Ron, and Hermione look so tiny in this movie! Especially when they're walking down hallways with older students...they just look impossibly small. And sometimes their acting is a bit cheesy, but that's okay. They're just kids, after all. Also, the CGI isn't the best, but it's not really distracting.
It seemed like it took so long for Hagrid to tell Harry about Voldemort and how his parents really died. I think in the book he explained all of that in the shack, but in the movie it takes forever. Hagrid is cast perfectly, as are all of the teachers and staff at Hogwarts. Actually, all of the casting is perfect. (Though I will always prefer Michael Gambon as Dumbledore. Richard Harris just came across as a little too weak and feeble and he didn't really capture Dumbledore's sense of humor.)
Just like with the book, you can pick up on little things when you watch it knowing what to expect. You notice little clues, like with Snape and Quirrell at the Quidditch match. I also realized this time that the film ending is a lot more dramatic than the book ending. Instead of just turning red and blistering, the villain's face (not saying any names just in case anyone doesn't know the story) basically turns to dust and falls apart. I guess that's more exciting? :) Also, Harry is a bit more of a hero and defeats the villain entirely instead of just passing out halfway through the confrontation...
I always tear up a little at the end when Neville is awarded the ten points for standing up to his friends. I do love rooting for an underdog, and Neville is one of my favorites. I just love him. :)
I feel like this first film, of all of the films, is probably the most accurate to the book, and I appreciate that. But I still think you're missing out on so much if you just see the movie and never read the book!
Well, so much for a proper review...this was basically just a lot of rambling thoughts. How does one even go about reviewing something as classic and amazing as Harry Potter, anyway?
What do you think about Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone? What do you like (or dislike) about the book or the film? Is it one of your favorites or least favorites of the series?