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Monday, January 30, 2023



Nov. 22, 2001 – First off, this preview of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is written by a muggle, so you will have to bear with a muggle's point of view. We don't understand wizards, witchcraft, wonders, warlocks or most other words starting with W — except, perhaps, wizened, (as in point of view).
Now, Harry Potter, (Daniel Radcliffe), a 11-year-old wizard unbeknownst to himself, comes to understand all of the above and more, and that is what this movie is about. If you are not familiar with this book for young people and the three sequels by J.K. Rowlings, you must have been living in a cave or beneath a bridge with ogres (but, come to think of it, they surely would know).
Anyhow, the movie version has gotten mixed reviews from us muggles. Several critics have said the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where Harry winds up, upstages Harry, himself, dwarfing his performance by not allowing him time to grow into his new self.
Harry is uprooted from his muggles family, who treat him horribly and make him sleep beneath a staircase and eat old shoes for dinner (well, not quite old shoes, but pretty grim gruel), by Hagrid (Robby Coltrane), the friendly giant. Hagrid escorts Harry to Hogwarts, where he starts his incredible adventure.
Harry's buddies in his magical experience hold up well to the critical eye, "smartly cast to type." Ron, (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson), who enter Hogwarts with Harry, are described as "picture perfect" for the parts. And Hogwarts faculty members Dumbledore (Richard Harris) and McGonagall (Maggie Smith) play their unlikely roles with likely aplomb.
Making a film from a book so rich in text, imagination and feeling which has reportedly been read by 100 million people — not all of them children — who already have their own images of the story firmly in mind is something more than a challenge. The result, some say, is like a cross between "Tom Brown's School Days" and Tolkien, or between "The Wizard of Oz" and "Alice in Wonderland."
The San Francisco Chronicle asks, can director Chris Columbus accomplish with literal images what Rowlings did with words? Probably not, critic Bob Graham says. He calls the film "a completely admirable journeyman production … that may have its audience wondering if it will ever end." It runs two hours and 22 minutes.
The film's main action piece, an epochal match of quidditch (airborne polo played on brooms instead of horses), resembles a video game more than a magical world, according to a Knight-Ridder review. Quidditch is truly magical in Rowlings' words.
Although the film's box office take reportedly is going through the rooftops (ahem), some critics have been especially unkind. Elvis Mitchell in The New York Times said "the most highly awaited movie of the year has a dreary, literal-minded competence." Variety complained that the movie "never takes on a life or soul of its own."
However, all of the above is written by muggles like me, and what do we know?
The movie is playing at Market Square East on St. Thomas. It is rated PG for some scary moments and mild language.

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